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Souq's Latest Acquisition Could Give Middle East Ecommerce a Boost

Its purchase of Wing.ae is expected to benefit both merchants and consumers

September 7, 2017 | Retail & Ecommerce

Ecommerce’s lagging share of retail sales in the Middle East may soon get some help from regional online shopping leader Souq.com’s purchase of Wing.ae, an ecommerce delivery marketplace that’s sought to overcome the purchase fulfilment issues perceived to be holding back digital buying by the area’s internet users.

Founded in 2016, United Arab Emirates-based Wing.ae connects merchants in the UAE with delivery couriers on an on-demand basis. New owner Souq.com says it will invest in growing Wing’s same-day and next-day delivery services in the greater Middle East region.

Retail Ecommerce Sales in the Middle East & Africa, 2016-2021 (billions, % change and % of total retail sales)

“With the support of Souq.com, Wing will accelerate investments into our technology, infrastructure and regional coverage to provide innovative delivery solutions and to make online shopping for Souq.com customers and merchants even more convenient,” said Wing.ae co-founder and CEO Muzaffar Karabev of the intended effect of the company’s new ownership.

Greater convenience could help boost ecommerce’s relatively small share of retail sales in the region. While eMarketer forecasts that retail ecommerce sales in the Middle East and Africa as a whole will rise nearly 25% this year, compared with other regions, digital buying’s 1.9% share of overall retail sales in MEA this year will be the lowest in the world.

More certainly, the purchase connects Wing to one of the Middle East’s most popular ecommerce sites. According to a study by online payment provider Payfort, Souq.com was the leading business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce platform in the Middle East and North Africa in 2016, used by 74% of internet users polled.

Leading B2C Ecommerce Platforms Used by Digital Buyers in the Middle East & North Africa*, 2016 (% of respondents)

Souq.com’s nearest competitor in the region, Amazon, purchased the ecommerce site in March of this year. Souq.com says it attracts over 45 million visits per month, with localized sites for the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kuwait.

“At Souq.com, our customers will remain our key focus, and we will continue to deliver an exceptional online shopping experience,” said Ronaldo Mouchawar, Souq.com co-founder and CEO. “Fast, dependable delivery is key to this, and Wing.ae provides Souq.com customers with more convenience for their same- and next-day delivery. With Amazon’s support, we are putting all our efforts in providing an ever-improving shopping experience for customers in the Middle East.”

Cliff Annicelli

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