The First E-Commerce Summit in Egypt...About Time!
Leading businesses big and small, all entrepreneurs share a certain quality; a drive, an itch, a relentless sense of curiosity. There’s something about them that you can’t quite put your finger on, but it gets them where they want to be. Once they get to that magical place of infinite possibility, all entrepreneurs will almost always tell you the same thing; when they got there, they found another entrepreneur waiting for them.
Great things happen when entrepreneurs huddle up and start talking; opportunities are made, spaces are created and challenges are overcome. Hussein Mohieldin, CEO and founder of Robusta, knows the importance of narrative in emerging industries, and as we walked the carpeted hallways of the 2018 E-commerce Summit, we realized how empowering it is to walk among people who were not only going through the same things, but were also pursuing the same dream.
Snazzed up in suits.
With a variety of international experts and industry players leading the conversation, the 2018 E-commerce Summit explored the untapped potential of utilizing e-commerce as a cornerstone of business strategy. “Businesses need hands-on training and business development support in e-commerce application,” Mohieldin told Think Marketing Magazine, as he pressed the importance of teaching businesses to integrate e-commerce in their operations and use it to grow bigger supply chains and larger markets.
The E-commerce Summit attracted 2500 industry specialists, including 30 international and local panelists and a host of government officials and brand representatives as well as several executives of complementary industries, such as payment gateways, branding agencies, telecom operators and supply chain executives. Responding to a national call of common interest, 2500 people came together to talk about the potential of the industry, and by coming together, a conversation was started about e-commerce; the first of its kind in the MENA region.
Once united, conversations were not limited to the direct business applications of e-commerce, but went on to explore the possibilities of blending digital experiences with in-store experiences to create an integrated omni-channel experience; one that reconnects with the customer long after they have made their online purchase. With the digitization of the industry, digital experiences are personalized and augmented with personal interactions; creating a seamless line of connection along the real and the virtual. Inside, the industry was tested against bigger concepts like machine learning, augmented reality, and blockchain, and industry leaders were moved to consider bigger models as B2B e-commerce was estimated at US $7.7 billion.
In addition to online applications, circulating dialogue explored the possibilities of building omni-channel businesses that incorporate digital transformation in companies of all sizes. Can startups be the seed that provide agility and innovation to an enterprise ecosystem? Thus, the narrative bypassed the barrier of binary and went into greater depths; those of structural innovation and targeted startup integration. In this, the 2018 E-commerce Summit achieved its greatest success. Not only did it bring people together to talk about e-commerce, it also inspired them to push its very boundaries; exploring the consumer, business and technology tracks of this mind-boggling industry.
Drawing on his expertise as a regional tech leader and e-commerce service provider in the Middle East since 2007, Mohieldin confided to Menabytes: “The potential of e-commerce in Egypt is huge but most of the businesses in Egypt have not been able to capitalize on it due to different reasons,” denoting the importance of the summit in filling the gaps, networking with supplementary business, aiding growth through business integration and giving context to an otherwise fragmented yet very ripe market. Egypt is conveniently stationed in the eye of a digital storm, with the e-commerce industry expected to reach a value of US $ 2.7 billion in 2020, according to Payfort’s 2014 State of Payments report.
Despite its late initiation into the bright world of online shopping, Egypt is showing immense potential on the global e-commerce front. As the breadwinner of US $1 for every US $11 spent in retail, the e-commerce industry in Egypt reached US $2.4 billion in 2016; an estimated growth of 31.7% in just one year.
In fact, the Egyptian Ministry of Communication estimates the current number of internet users in Egypt to be 46.2 million; a total 54% of the population growing at an annual rate of 3.3% and ranking Egypt the 14th worldwide in the number of active internet users. Ashraf Sabry, founder of Fawry; Egypt’s largest electronic payment network and Summit Awards sponsor, estimates the growth rate of the e-commerce industry to be around 200-300% per month, with the number of e-commerce websites in Egypt reaching 450 online retailers and marketplaces in 2015.
Showing 22% growth in 2017, the e-commerce environment in Egypt shows promise for mobile shopping as well. With 30.4 smartphone users recorded in 2016 and an online buyer base sporting a 16.4% annual growth rate, the most active online faction was recorded to be between 18 and 24 years of age; the prime shoppers and pro clickers of our emerging nation.
The proliferation of mobile and social media in an active consumer market of 90 million people was also a huge success factor, largely facilitating the growth of e-commerce startups. Thanks to Robusta, this summit not only marks the start of a new age of communication, but also the evolution of the industry around Middle Eastern innovators, young dreamers, aspiring entrepreneurs and industry enthusiasts throughout the region.
Did you attend the 2018 E-commerce Summit? Tell us all about your experience in the comments!