Consumers living in established markets often slip into a provincial state-of-mind by default, and forget emerging markets are still in the first stages of eCommerce.
Morocco is a good example of a developing market that is still at the forefront of the eCommerce world. Middle Eastern and Northern African consumers are still learning to use the Internet and are in primitive eCommerce stages compared to more mature markets. The market has been a revolving door and many of the new entrants are unable to sustain business.
The lack of online shopping experience in the MENA region has caused consumers to have a lack confidence in the new market. Moreover, there is a lack of trust in online payments since there was rare opportunity to use such payments before eCommerce blossomed.
In order to better under the Moroccan market, consider the country's local bookshop network. The offline shops offer limited selections and generally only sell international bestsellers.
A few years back, ordering online wasn't a viable alternative since the Moroccan dirham could not be converted. The Ministry of Communications added to Moroccan's frustration and demanded to approve all book orders to the country. Additionally, the shipping costs would have been extremely expensive.
Mathieu Malan grew tired from several years of never being able to find his favorite books in Morocco, and was inspired to launch an online bookstore. Malan decided it was time to bring books to Morocco in a simpler and more cost-efficient fashion.
Livremoi is an eCommerce platform in Morocco that Caroline Dalimier and Malan first envisioned back in 2008. They launched Livremoi as soon as credit card-linked online payments were made possible by leading banks in Morocco.
According to Wamda, Livremoi offers the largest catalogue of books in Morocco, and sells all of the 1.5 million books in French that are for sale in France. The platform also sells 200,000 books in English and can ship any "on-the-demand" book. Offline bookshops in the area only offered up to 5,000 books in each location.
At the time of launch, the website faced no competitors in the local market. Malan and Dalimier enjoyed being the only online bookstore in Morocco. They were proud to have a wide selection of books that were unmatched by the local bookshops.
However, the honeymoon period didn't last long.
Since its launch, Livremoi has welcomed new entrants to the online market.
"Offline bookstores tend to close their doors, and the entrepreneurs who are trying to go online have been struggling with shipping and import/export," he explained to Wamda.
Online platforms, such as Primo.ma were forced to shut down business. Livremoi is one of the few players that has been able to keep its head above water.
The company's growth has been slow coming, with only about 6,000 customers after being in operation for five years. They are losing money, but still, Malan insists that the customers are loyal.
Livremoi attributes its ability to survive in a difficult market to three mains reasons: Securing good importing prices for customers, building customer trust in a young and naÃ¯ve market, and developing partnerships with other online retailers such as Jumia.
Malan explained it is important to gain the customer's trust. Livremoi made sure to pay close attention to this process, and built trust through creating a presence offline. Malan and Dalimier traveled to fairs around the country, to meet with consumers and communicate information about their business.
Despite the moderate growth of online payments in Morocco and other Arab countries, Wamda reported that Maroc Telecommerce revealed promising statistics. In 2012, electronic transactions grew by 75 percent in just one year, with 1.25 million transfers.
Additionally, eCommerce is beginning to crawl up in figures, with 60 percent of MENA consumers reporting to have shopped at least twice online in the last year. Only 47 percent reported to have done the same in the year prior, which indicates a strong future.
To read the full story at Wamda, click here.