E-Commerce in Egypt – The Tipping Point: Episode 1

Episode 1: Identifying the stakeholders & controlling forces

Being at the heart of the E-Commerce scene in Egypt and while working on the preparations for robusta’s upcoming E-Commerce Summit 2018 (contact me if you’re interested in participation) I can’t help but keep asking myself what’s left till the market reaches its tipping point in Egypt. Inspite of having one of the highest social media penetration rates in the world with more than 33 million users on Facebook alone massive increase starting 2011 and between 2014 to 2017,  E-Commerce in Egypt hasn’t reached anywhere near the global E-Commerce growth rates for the obvious reasons like, for starters, the fact that the Egyptian customer is still hanging on having to see and feel the product they’re buying to make sure it’s good and being afraid to use their credit cards online and fearing their goods won’t be shipped (aka Egyptians have trust issues).

Being half engineer and half consultant, I couldn’t help but tackle this from a merely analytical perspective and run a quick mostly qualitative assessment of both the market stakeholders and controlling forces through a series of upcoming blog posts in an attempt to at least present the problem and try to find practical solutions and get you, the customer, the business owner, the rising entrepreneur, the big brand and anyone who believes, like me and everyone at robusta, that there’s a great future and opportunities yet to be snatched in the business of E-Commerce in Egypt, to weigh on this matter and give each other pieces of our mind, turning this from the thoughts of one individual to a discussion among those who are concerned and who knows what else. For starters, Identifying the stakeholders is mostly straight forward; however, identifying the controlling forces can get a little bit tricky.

Out of our experience at robusta for the past 4 years with several E-Commerce implementations, some of which are true models for successful case studies, I believe the most critical mix to look at of stakeholders and forces would be:

  1. Supply: that would be the retailers and product providers. Think B.TECH.
  2. Demand: that would be the end consumers. That’s everyone of us, the end users.
  3. Mediators: in some cases there’s a marketplace acting as a mediator bridging the supply & demand. Think Souq, Jumia, Edfa3ly, etc..
  4. Technology: that comes at the core and probably the key contributor to E-Commerce over the traditional brick-and-mortar retail and distribution.
  5. Logistics: though a key pillar of traditional retail, E-Commerce adds an additional layer of complexity to optimize on cost and meet customers’ expectations.
  6. Customer Service: in a global world that truly brings international E-Commerce players as close to local consumers as local players, customers expectations have truly hit the roof
  7. Marketing: between the classical 4Ps and the need to go almost fully digital, marketing becomes one of the key barriers to new entrants to the market to realize the full potential of the market
  8. People: most analysis would overlook the role of knowledgeable workers, management capacities and small business owners setting and E-Commerce strategies and respective implementations.

In the following series, I will look at each of the aforementioned and attempt to do an assessment of the current status of each in an attempt to look at the missing jigsaw pieces and anticipate the moment in time where they all click and unleash a huge potential of an economy on its own that can be a critical driver for economic development as it does not only develop the retail business but obviously creates lots of jobs on the logistics, customer service and significantly contributes to the development of the technology and financial sectors.

Would love to get thoughts on this as I plan to break it down into a series of detailed analysis of each of the aforementioned and I’m quite flexible to adjust for a more inclusive perspective that’s hopefully one step forwards towards the market tipping point.

I believe other perspectives looking at the topic could also be quite enlightening, one of which would be the study of the evolution in other more developed markets and the different phases it has gone through until it reached maturity.

5 Design Tips for a Successful Black Friday Campaign

It’s that time of the year again and Black Friday is upon us. The sales are everywhere; there’s something new everywhere; deals here and deals there; but what makes customers buy off of one website over the other? We’ve gathered our fair share of easy tips to help your e-commerce platform maintain a successful Black Friday campaign.

Stay true to the brand
Avoid visual clutter by using simple designed ad banners with clear call to action. The designs should stick to the brand identity which makes the user related more to the website.



Help your users get to what they want
Listing all products in the sale next to each other is overwhelming. Use categories to help the users navigate to the right section of the website, as well providing filters to narrow down the range of products displayed.

After clicking on the black friday banner, the page displayed include products featured as deals of the day, hottest deals and a list of categories which have deals.
After clicking on the Black Friday banner, the page displayed include products featured as deals of the day, hottest deals and a list of categories which have deals.

Make your discount percentages pop
Offers and discounts are great driver for the shoppers to take the decision to purchase a product (link). Discounts are the core of Black Friday campaign. Featuring those discounts visually and in percentage has a great impact on the experience.


Tell the users the what they will really pay before they click “checkout”
61% of users abandon their cart and the checkout process when they realize that extra fees are too high. Deceiving the users by using a website wide banners promoting free shipping which isn’t the case when they proceed to the actual checkout, leaves a bad impression.

Macy’s promotes free shipping in the header and in the product page but when the user tries to checkout, they add shipping fees anyways.
Macy’s promotes free shipping in the header and in the product page but when the user tries to checkout, they add shipping fees anyways.

Get to know your users better
Black Friday is a great opportunity to observe your users behaviour and their shopping patterns through analytics and usability studies. Note down what negatively affects the experience, handle it and iterate. Read more into how to do a low budget usability analysis of an e-commerce website.

These are just simple design tips that you just can’t overlook; however, an awesome and successful Black Friday campaign (or any sale for the matter) doesn’t only stop at these, without proper marketing, a secure website that actually works, great effort exerted by your customer support team and the right partners to get your goods to the customer, you don’t stand a chance in this highly dynamic season.