What's in a Global Ecommerce report, anyway?

Ecommerce reports are always chock-full of data – facts, figures and statistics covering fairly traditional and well-established ecommerce markets. For a webshop owner who knows how to use that data, these reports are a great tool for expanding business domestically, as well as cross-border. However, quite often you find ecommerce reports neglecting countries with less-established ecommerce markets, giving a skewed view of what is usually referred to as the ‘Middle East’ and/or ‘Africa’. 


Can you really call it a Global Ecommerce Report?


…if it includes only one or two countries from Africa, and one or two countries from the Middle East? 

Not really – which is why we decided to make this global report more diverse by including ‘under-sung’ countries like Qatar, Bahrain, Nigeria, Iran, Ghana, Tunisia, Tanzania and more. Of course the report also covers thoroughly established ecommerce markets, including the United Kingdom, the United States, China, etc., making it easier for retailers to see the full spectrum of ecommerce markets. 


When we think about ecommerce markets, especially well-established markets, we tend to think of consumers ordering products on desktop or laptop computers. But when we look to the global market – that is, a truly representative model of the global market... -- it’s clear to see this is not the case. In fact, mobile commerce (m-commerce) is dominating in many parts of the world, and for different reasons.


Here are some of the countries and stats we could find on m-commerce:



Once the research team caught the trend, we looked further into why some region’s consumers had a preference for m-commerce. In some cases, the amount of people who owned desktop or laptop computers was quite small, especially in some of the African markets; however, on the other side of the coin were countries like China and Japan, with great infrastructures and loads of technology available, but with more mobile-savvy consumers. We included a case study in the report about some of these new trends, particularly those found in China.


Here’s an excerpt from the Global Ecommerce Report Case Study, New Retail: 


China has been at the core of the New Retail model for ecommerce. That is not only down to Alibaba, but the factors found within China itself. With its rapid development in recent time, developing markets such as China are skipping the fixed broadband infrastructure that propelled developing nations (such as the UK and Japan) onto the Internet. With cheap mobile access leapfrogging fixed access [in comparison] to developing nations. Moreover, Chinese consumers shop online in a different way to the majority of Western markets. The recent surge in consumer wealth within the middle-class in China has met the highly mobile-first Internet infrastructure. These new consumers are not attached to the brick-and-mortar retail experience and increasingly push for a mobile shopping experience.


We dug a little deeper into the world of mobile commerce, and came across something that gave us another (very important) piece of the m-commerce puzzle: 40% of mobile shoppers in the Middle East and North Africa have been victims of cybercrime, and 71% say they observed cyber-attacks in the region. It made sense to us then why ‘lack of trust’ was cited as the main ecommerce issue discussed by consumers across the Middle East and North Africa regions (MENA) (42%).


What does this mean (and why does it matter) for retailers?


We consistently talk about infrastructure as a barrier in emerging ecommerce markets, and that is absolutely a factor, as the next highest ecommerce issue cited in the MENA regions were ‘delivery issues’ (21%). Infrastructural problems are not always something a webshop owner can do anything about (at least not immediately), but trust and security are. It is clear that Africa and the Middle East (as well as Asia) are mobile-shoppers, and they are also victims of cybercrime on mobile devices, and exhibit a lack trust in ecommerce, which means online retailers must consider online security for consumers, especially if they want to sell in any of these countries, and especially across the border.


Marc Atallah, co-founder of Mazars zettafox and Co-leader of the Data Explortation/Advanced Analytics team had some interesting comments on online security: ‘Fraud has always been around. It usually comes from ill-designed IT/IS architectures and bad technology implementation. Part of the answer to this lays therefore on the cyber-security front being an issue in itself. The other part today comes from good data practices from people using the Internet. People, the Internet and mobile users must be aware of phishing techniques, properly using and recording their login/password, etc. In the future, SMEs should be able to use more advanced techniques such as biometric modalities for user authentication – fingerprint facial recognition, etc.’

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