Robusta is organising the first e-commerce summit by the end of this month, during which the summit will discuss the future of e-commerce in Egypt and the challenges it faces.
Daily News Egypt sat down for an interview with the Managing Director of Robusta Hussein Mohieldin, who spoke about the e-commerce market in Egypt and how it is expected to reach 10 times its current size in the coming five years. The transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
How do you see the e-commerce market in Egypt?
The age of the electronic commerce industry in Egypt does not exceed 10 years, but has witnessed many developments over the past few years. There is a partial transformation of many traders to shift to online sales to reach as many customers as possible.
The market also witnessed the entry of international companies such as Amazon to acquire Souq to make Amazon one of the official e-commerce services provider in Egypt. Distribution and other services companies started relying on mobile applications to connect with merchants and complete business.
All these developments reflect the development of the e-commerce market in Egypt. Currently, Egypt is experiencing a boom in the e-commerce market in America and Europe. The market is expected to grow 10-folds over the next five years.
Now e-commerce has become a key player in the development of economies worldwide and the Middle East and North Africa region in particular.
What is the size of the e-commerce market in Egypt today?
The percentage of electronic transactions in the Egyptian market is only 2%, compared to 20% in the US market, indicating growth opportunities available in the Egyptian market.
As for the size of the market, there are many different estimates based on a different estimation method, but our figures indicate that the size of the e-commerce market in the Middle East and North Africa will reach $2.7bn by 2020
What are the market needs of regulatory frameworks?
We, at Robusta, aim to crystallise the challenges facing the e-commerce market through the first e-commerce summit. One of these challenges is the legislative framework of the market, but I believe that the Ministry of Communications is currently working on it.
However, there are other challenges facing the market, most notably the lack of experienced cadres in the digital marketing industry. There are also challenges related to logistics. There are challenges in the management and implementation of technology, and there are challenges of pricing and marketing campaigns. All of these challenges will be discussed during the conference.
During the conference, we will present more than 21 case studies from different countries to learn about their experiences in overcoming such challenges. We will also hold more than 12 roundtable talks to discuss market problems, proposed solutions, and their vision of the development of the e-commerce market.
What services does your company offer? Why was the first e-commerce summit held?
We are a company offering various technological solutions and we have clients from different categories, such as multinational companies, such as Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) and Orange. We work with large companies in Egypt, some of them listed on the Egyptian Exchange (EGX). We also cooperate with many start-ups and entrepreneurs.
Through our experience in the market we found growth opportunities in the e-commerce market and at the same time there is a gap and therefore we decided to hold the conference to gather executives in the e-commerce market to discuss the challenges and propose solutions to support the industry, and this is happening in different countries in the world and therefore we used experts from the UAE and Germany to view the experiences and how to overcome the challenges they faced.
One of the most prominent technological solutions we offer mobile applications and setting up websites and solutions for online sales, whether to the public or retailers, as well as technological solutions enable companies to manage their points of sale and distribution.
Will the summit be held annually? What is its purpose?
During the conference, we aim to review the various new trends, technologies, and technical tools in the area of digital commerce in the region.
The forum is expected to become an annual forum for business owners who rely on e-commerce, experts, and specialists to discuss the latest developments in this field and ways to develop it through various electronic solutions and innovations, which contributes to the transformation of this area in the region to be more effective and impact the economy. During the first summit, experts and industry professionals will also discuss two important trends: past experiences, successes, and challenges, and ways to bring more investment opportunities to growth opportunities in the e-commerce market.
We have many sponsors such as B.Tech, Mountain View, Nestle, Fawry, Wazzuf, and DHL.
Many start-ups will also be present to link them to large companies that have the ability to move the market, helping to further support and grow the e-commerce industry.
We also launched a competition for companies and entrepreneurs offering solutions to the e-commerce industry and the winner will receive a prize of $10,000.
How will you choose the winner?
There is a jury from Falak. Over 200 ideas were submitted, including working start-ups and ideas. We will select 10 existing start-ups to present them to the jury during the conference, one of which will win the award.
What are the most important topics that will be discussed by the conference?
The conference covers a comprehensive vision of the electronic commerce industry, including the challenges facing the industry, legislation and taxation, and sessions discussing specialized industries within electronic commerce such as clothing and distribution, and we will discuss the experiences of other countries.
There are speakers from different sectors of the e-commerce market, some from the pricing sector, others from marketing, and others specialising in setting up a strategy to ensure that participating companies benefit as much as possible.
What is the expected number of attendees?
We expect 1,000 people from various departments in the e-commerce industry to attend.
Are two companies such as Souq and Jumia a hindrance to the emergence of new companies?
The presence of these major companies is considered an advantage and a disadvantage. It is an advantage because it has the financial ability to spend what helps to spread the culture of online purchasing. This feature is not owned by small companies operating in the e-commerce market. Major companies, with time, will work on global competition.
Do you have plans to expand your company externally?
Currently, we have an office in Germany and we have a plan to open another office in Sweden and Australia.
Why expand Europe rather than the Gulf?
The European market is large and highly developed and has a high purchasing power. We have the qualifications to expand in Europe, such as language and time, as well as the requirements of the European customer to pressure us to improve our quality.