EBay partners with noon for door-to-door Saudi and UAE deliveries

Mohamed Alabbar, founder of online shopping platform noon. (Courtesy of noon)
Updated 12 June 2018

EBay partners with noon for door-to-door Saudi and UAE deliveries

  • Service to be launched in UAE and Saudi in the second half of the year
  • Agreement follows acquisition of Souq by Amazon last year

LONDON: Saudis will soon be able to buy goods directly from eBay and get them delivered to their doorstep.

It follows a deal between the e-commerce giant and regional shopping platform noon.com, the online platform backed by Emaar chairman Mohamed Alabbar and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

The agreement represents a major milestone for noon as it competes with Amazon-owned Souq for supremacy in the Gulf region’s fast growing e-commerce market.

“With this (agreement), we are offering our customers access to products that are not otherwise readily available in the region,” said Alabbar in a statement.

“Our partnership with eBay opens a whole new world of shopping experience.”

The new facility will be launched in the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the second half of the year via a standalone app.

Noon and eBay will share best practices and explore joint marketing opportunities as part of the agreement, noon said.

The partnership with noon follows the acquisition of regional rival Souq by Amazon last year for  $580 million.

Amazon rolled out its Amazon Global Store in December for customers in the UAE, offering more than a million products including home goods, watches and shoes.

Amazon has been scaling up its presence in the region in the past months, advertising for several jobs in Riyadh following a meeting in April between CEO Jeff Bezos and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in April, Bloomberg reported.

Mohamed Alabbar unveiled noon in November 2016, saying that the platform would go live in January 2017. But a series of setbacks, led to the service only coming on stream in the UAE last September, and only going live in Saudi Arabia in December.

The partnership with eBay provides noon the opportunity to compete with Souq on scale.

“Being able to offer millions of products at any given time is a key differentiator for any e-commerce player who wants to lead the industry,” said Sauvik Tegta, a senior Manager at consultants A.T. Kearney

“Noon has already announced plans to offer a product assortment that exceeds 20 Million SKUs (stock keeping units), and the partnership with eBay will further help it achieve and exceed this target. This is especially crucial considering its competitor Souq.com already offers access to the Amazon Global Store service.”

While e-commerce accounts for a tiny proportion of retail sales in the Gulf region compared with markets in Western Europe and Asia, the rising penetration of smartphones and the entry of leading global players such as Amazon and eBay is forecast to accelerate growth in the sector.

“Consumer awareness was one of the barriers, but with Amazon entering the market and with large investments from Noon and traditional retailers, e-Commerce has garnered significant industry and the media spotlight that has raised its profile across GCC,” said Tegta.

Significant progress has been made in the last mile delivery within the GCC, one of the key challenges facing e-commerce players both in the region and abroad, he said.

An example of this was the growth of local delivery firms such as Fetchr, which raised $40 million in funding last year to scale up to meet growing demand for online shopping deliveries.

But the region still faces a series of logistics challenges, Tegta said.

“Warehouses and fulfillment centres are still not optimally located close enough to the market demand, so it can take several days to get products from a warehouse to a distribution center,” he said. 

The GCC’s e-commerce market is forecast to be worth $24 billion by 2020, compared with $5.3 billion in 2015, according to A.T. Kearney forecasts.


Africa development bank says risks to continent’s growth ‘increasing by the day’

Updated 18 August 2019

Africa development bank says risks to continent’s growth ‘increasing by the day’

  • The trade dispute between US and China has roiled global markets and unnerved investors
  • African nations need to boost trade with each other to cushion the impact of external shocks

DAR ES SALAAM: The US-China trade war and uncertainty over Brexit pose risks to Africa’s economic prospects that are “increasing by the day,” the head of the African Development Bank (AfDB) told Reuters.
The trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies has roiled global markets and unnerved investors as it stretches into its second year with no end in sight.
Britain, meanwhile, appears to be on course to leave the European Union on Oct. 31 without a transition deal, which economists fear could severely disrupt trade flows.
Akinwumi Adesina, president of the AfDB, said the bank could review its economic growth projection for Africa — of 4 percent in 2019 and 4.1 percent in 2020 — if global external shocks accelerate.
“We normally revise this depending on global external shocks that could slowdown global growth and these issues are increasing by the day,” Adesina told Reuters late on Saturday on the sidelines of the Southern African Development Community meeting in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
“You have Brexit, you also have the recent challenges between Pakistan and India that have flared off there, plus you have the trade war between the United States and China. All these things can combine to slow global growth, with implications for African countries.”
The bank chief said African nations need to boost trade with each other and add value to agricultural produce to cushion the impact of external shocks.
“I think the trade war has significantly impacted economic growth prospects in China and therefore import demand from China has fallen significantly and so demand for products and raw materials from Africa will only fall even further,” he said.
“It will also have another effect with regard to China’s own outward-bound investments on the continent,” he added, saying these could also affect official development assistance.
Adesina said a continental free-trade zone launched last month, the African Continental Free Trade Area, could help speed up economic growth and development, but African nations needed to remove non-tariff barriers to boost trade.
“The countries that have always been facing lower volatilities have always been the ones that do a lot more in terms of regional trade and do not rely on exports of raw materials,” Adesina said.
“The challenges cannot be solved unless all the barriers come down. Free mobility of labor, free mobility of capital and free mobility of people.”