The future of e-commerce on the African continent is not yet to be demonstrated, despite the obstacles inherent to its establishment, such as connectivity or infrastructure. In addition to the first African unicorn Jumia, the juggernaut Alibaba is increasingly settling in Africa.
In Morocco, as elsewhere, e-commerce activity is constantly growing, according to the Interbank Monetary Center (CMI) report on e-commerce monetary activity. In addition, the country has one of the highest internet penetration rates in Africa (93%) and has a decent road infrastructure, especially in the large peripheries. And yet: the sector is struggling to take off.
A sector that advances step by step
The crisis has made the digital advantage for e-commerce visible, as never before, and has accelerated this trend. All indicators are green for a model full of promise.
Despite this, the number of online stores in Morocco is negligible: “Only 10,000 e-commerce sites, while according to the OMPIC (Moroccan Office of Industrial and Commercial Property, editor’s note), Morocco has two million companies, of which 61% operate in commerce. By way of comparison, in France, the number of commercial websites has increased to more than 270,000”, observes Driss Alami, founder of Egio, an agency specializing in the development of commercial websites, whose majority of turnover is done offshore.
“If you’re thinking about starting your own e-commerce store, there’s no better time than now,” he recommends.
However, if the online store is a showcase for new local and international markets, the truth is that before taking the decision to launch in this channel, it is necessary to structure the offer. “The products are visible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even in the four corners of the world; That’s why online store quality is needed. It must be up to date if you want to reach the international market”, adds Youssef Boubia, founder of Numeric Way agency.
“Most Moroccan merchant websites are small merchants whose only need is to be digitally present. They can do better because the potential is huge. The sector is still in its infancy and is increasingly part of the habits of Moroccan consumers”, he continues.
Creating professional e-commerce websites a must
In the jungle of SAAS solutions for creating e-commerce websites, the ability to create an online store is accessible even to technically amateur people.
However, in order to create an optimized and efficient online store, “it is strongly advised to turn to professionals and establish detailed specifications that include all the necessary features. Added to this is an elegant design punctuated by good quality images, clear product descriptions and guarantee elements for customers to optimize the efficiency of the online store, such as returns management, product guarantee, means of delivery, etc. The platform must inspire trust; consumers attach great importance to the first impression they have when accessing an e-commerce site”, highlights Youssef Boubia.
As for the real cost of these sites, it depends on the desired features, related to the five pillars of an online store identified by Driss Alami.
– The product: this component includes the work on the visual, the copyright, the description of the product and its price, the personalization, the richness of the catalog… This pillar highlights the marketing produced by the creation of content and, of course, the studied prices. “The most successful commercial sites in Morocco are those that offer products priced around 300 DH. This is an observation on the ground based on our experience in the Moroccan market”, stresses Driss Alami.
– The store: includes the design part, the user experience, the maintenance and especially the CMS technology, whether hosted or SAAS like Woocommerce, PrestaShop, Magento or Shopify. “Whatever the technological choice, or the design approach, it is important to pay special attention to several elements: fluidity of the customer journey, access to the product catalog and the ordering process, and loyalty features”, note-t- we.
– Logistics: it is about answering the following questions: “Will it be outsourced or managed internally? Will there be international delivery options? How many couriers will be involved? What will be the delivery times? At what cost? Regarding the stock, will it be in the physical store or dedicated to e-commerce? “.
– Payment: This section allows you to consider payment options: on delivery or online? Which payment partners? etc.
– Digital marketing: to optimize the flow of visitors, convert them into buyers and enhance the brand. This process uses several tools that support the digital marketing strategy. Among them, natural references, sending emails or advertising on social networks. “Internet users must feel the existence of the brand even behind their screen”, specifies Driss Alami.
Depending on the desired functionalities, the e-commerce specialist distinguishes three price ranges according to the implementation approach: “In general, small e-merchants with projects turn to national SAAS platforms such as Storino or Youcan, international companies such as Shopify or Wix , which provide them with DIY tools, for a monthly subscription of 400 DH on average and/or commissions on sales. For VSE/SME sites, they are usually accompanied by small agencies or freelancers, whose price offer varies between 15,000 and 30,000 DH”, underlines Driss Alami.
Egio positions itself in structuring e-commerce matters for retailers or brands whose project budgets start from DH 200,000. “Our job is to develop bespoke e-commerce platforms combining two axes: brand design and user experience engineering, integrating the different processes, and the company’s value chain solutions such as inventory management, CRM/ERP (customer relationship management/integrated management software package, editor’s note), logistics and carriers. We count on our reference sites offering a catalog of over 50,000 products and an e-commerce turnover of over DH 10 million /year”, explains Driss Alami.
Small merchants must mark their presence on digital.
Numeric Way supports companies of all sizes and individual project leaders. The company has around thirty brands such as Kitea and Bricodeco in its e-commerce portfolio.
However, its founder emphasizes the importance of online sales for small merchants. He recalls that Numeric Way was created in 2011 with a French TPE which, at the time, did not place more than five orders a day, with an average daily volume of 500 euros. Today, “Un Amour de Tapis has become a leading brand in Europe, present in more than twenty market places, with a catalog of more than 70,000 products and an average daily turnover of 20,000 euros”, says Youssef Boubia. “The real emergence of e-commerce is based on its ownership by VSEs,” he concludes.