The federation of trades in the distribution of consumer products, Tijara 2020, and the national single window for foreign trade procedures, Portnet, organized a webinar on Tuesday, April 27 on the state of the game and prospects for e- commerce. , after the outbreak of the crisis in Covid. The event was attended by several e-commerce experts and operators.
The health crisis as an accelerator for the development of the sector
E-commerce experienced a significant leap during the health crisis in Morocco, as anywhere in the world. It is emerging as one of the major axes of the evolution of the world economy. Speakers agreed that the covid crisis was just an accelerator, of a fundamental movement that had begun long ago.
Worldwide, internet product sales growth was 32% compared to 2019. E-commerce represented 13.4% of total retail trade in 2020, compared to 9.8% in 2019, generating 1.8 billion transactions, an annual increase of 5.8%.
Also in Morocco, there is growth, as there were more than 1,000 active e-commerce sites in 2020, up by almost 300 compared to last year. The number of online payments by credit card also rose +46.5%, thus exceeding 13 million during this period, according to the Center Monétique Interbancaire.
“E-commerce is not the future, it is the present”
E-commerce has a bright future in Morocco, according to Salma Ammor, general manager of GOA Commerce, a Moroccan startup that has raised 3 MDHs from the 212Founders program. The act of buying on the internet is becoming more common among Moroccans, as it offers more convenience for the consumer. This trend is supported by the development of various channels: independent Marketplaces like Jumia, Social Commerce through social networks like Facebook and Instagram to build their own marketplaces that benefit from their audience , and finally Quick Commerce which consists of fast delivery through apps like Glovo or Jumia Food.
Meanwhile, Larbi Alaoui Belghiti, managing director of Jumia, a major player in the sector in Morocco and Africa, insisted that e-commerce is not the future, but the present. Today Amazon, the world leader, is in the top 5 according to market capitalization, while the other companies that make up GAFAM are all major players in e-commerce worldwide. If for these digital giants, Morocco is not yet in their sight, it will not be long and it will need to be prepared now.
Morocco is behind at the regional level
Despite the progress made, participants noticed Morocco’s delay in this sector at the regional level, as almost 2% of total retail sales are made on the Internet, against a larger proportion (4% 10% ) in countries in Africa and around the Mediterranean. The cases of Egypt and Nigeria are cited as examples on the African continent, which regrets that the Kingdom is lagging behind despite its more advanced logistics and telecom infrastructures.
For Fahd Bennani, CEO of IWACO, this is mainly related to the weakness of the startup ecosystem in Morocco, which suffers from lack of funding. During the period in Egypt and Nigeria, unicorns (startups worth more than $ 1 billion) are emerging in the fintech sectors offering e-commerce and management related services to achieve spectacular fundraising. , in Morocco, we are still far from here. For Larbi Alaoui Belghiti, this is all the more true because Jumia, which has succeeded in Morocco and Africa, relies on the support of solid international investors. Morocco with its 36 million inhabitants remains a relatively small market compared to the Nigerian and Egyptian giants (more than 200M and 100M respectively) and it is difficult to attract international investors for its startups.
A still slow adaptation of Moroccan companies
Some changes take time, according to Said Elamrani, CEO of First Telecom, where Moroccan distributors need resources and patience to enter the e-commerce market. They must also arm themselves with the skills and expertise to support them in this process.
For Abdelbaki Yousfi, managing director of Bigdistribution, whose company has achieved 4% of its turnover online in a short period of time, he thinks companies should invest in it without looking for short -term profitability. Either way, e-commerce is becoming inevitable to adapt to changes in consumer habits. Witness, for example, the enthusiasm of Moroccans for online shopping on Black Friday, continues Abdelbaki Yousfi.
B2C e-commerce in consumer products was unthinkable a few years ago for Unilever, according to Beligh Ghedira, Customer Development Director at the same company. However, thanks to the partnership with Jumia, experience has shown that this is possible. The company is now experimenting with new solutions, including fast delivery and e-retail for retailers.
There are still some barriers to its development
The speakers did not fail to point the finger at the informal sector which, for them, remains a serious obstacle to the development of e-commerce in Morocco. Nor does it help the retail sector, which is so fragmented, with a large number of small retailers, lacking resources, to surpass it. According to Saïd Elamrani, it will be necessary to think of an inclusive model so that they do not remain on the sidelines of this movement.
The mistrust and lack of confidence on the part of a large portion of consumers is also a challenge that needs to be addressed by educating and providing innovative and diverse solutions, both in terms of payment and throughout the purchasing process. Moreover, with the predominance of Cash on Delivery as a method of payment, the panelists believe that the lack of financial inclusion is also a barrier to the promotion of e-commerce in Morocco, calling for the acceleration of the development of mobile banking. is still struggling to leave.