As we’ve discussed last month, we are seeing a boom in B2C e-commerce in the MENA region, starting two years ago following the onset of the pandemic. Revenues are higher than ever, and new consumer trends have begun to take form.
One of the key players at the heart of this transformation has been none other than noon, one of the largest online retail firms in the region. Founded by billionaire Mohammed Alabbar of Emaar Properties fame in 2016, the company has been instrumental in normalising e-commerce as a component of the 21st-century lifestyle within the MENA region. The platform was initially launched in Riyadh with a $1 billion investment with the support of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and other private investors, and has since branched out to the UAE and Egypt.
Late last year, Alabbar revealed that there are plans to invest a further $2 billion in the company over the next three years in order to enable the digital marketplace to achieve 15-20 minute deliveries and fuel further growth. A large part of this growth in years past has been based on supporting third-party sellers on its platform - from big brands to small and micro businesses.
Lamiaa Itmi, Seller Support, noon, sheds light on the company’s latest activities, market trends, the platform’s growing suite of services, and the ramping up of support for sellers.
How would you describe the B2C e-commerce industry in the MENA region when you first launched in 2016, and how does it compare with the landscape of 2022? Any notable trends, tech developments, pain points, market gaps, etc.?
Consumer buying habits have shifted dramatically in the previous two years, with e-commerce platforms emerging as crucial growth engines within retail.
As preferences for payment methods have changed (from cash on delivery to contactless), so has online food and grocery shopping. The quick commerce industry is rapidly expanding to meet client demand, disrupting traditional business and delivery techniques.
What role has noon played in bolstering the offerings and services in the e-commerce market since its launch? After all, your company is one of the biggest regional names in this field.
In 4.5 years, we've established a digital ecosystem of products and services, including a 15-minute delivery service, noon Minutes. Our Yellow Friday Sale is the region's biggest sales event, and we have the largest Middle East logistics and fulfilment network.
When we first started out, one of our main goals was to help the region's SMEs, SMBs, and businesses. We're thrilled to have onboarded thousands of local businesses to the platform, giving them access to our suite of tools, enormous fulfilment network, a database of millions of clients, and the ability to substantially expand their brands online. We also developed the Mahali programme to help Emirati and Saudi sellers succeed online.
Speaking of expanding services, we've come to see a drive towards super apps in the region, especially since the pandemic. noon has been expanding its scope of services too, like offering a food delivery service in 2020 - would you say you are working towards developing a super app?
We currently have four services within the core noon app - noon.com, noon Food, noon Grocery, and noon in Minutes - offering customers everything from online shopping, food delivery services, and groceries to 15-minute deliveries on thousands of products. Our goal is to be a daily touchpoint for customers, catering to all of their needs at a click.
How does noon help entrepreneurs in setting up and growing an e-commerce business?
noon operates in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt and has an in-house seller support team to help vendors with onboarding, selling, and growing sales and online presence.
noon offers two selling model structures, FBN (Fulfilled by noon) and FBP (Fulfilled by Partner), to accommodate merchants of various sizes and inventory capabilities. noon's yearly seller events help SMEs and SMBs around the area.
Are there any tips you can share with entrepreneurs looking to set up their own e-commerce business/store, and any pitfalls they should avoid?
Using noon's range of tools and obtaining access to millions of customers in a single click is an excellent method to expand online without incurring additional costs such as labour and fulfilment.
noon offers entrepreneurs hassle-free store setup, on-hand support, in-depth training resources, and much more available to sellers in order to help them thrive.
What's next for noon in the coming 3 years?
noon aspires to be the Middle East's local digital champion, serving and supporting communities around the region - merchants, customers, and partners. We'd love to support even more sellers' success, enabling even more contributions to the local digital economy.
Find out more about joining noon as a seller here: https://sell.withnoon.com/ or refer to the video below.