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Seven Of The Biggest Findings From Zbooni's 2024 MENA cCommerce Report When it comes to what customers want, humans still have a massive role to play.

By Ramy Assaf

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We at Zbooni recently released the 2024 edition of the MENA cCommerce Report, which focuses on how Whatsapp -the Meta-owned messaging app- is changing the way we shop. The full report can be found on zbooni.com– but here's the TLDR of all the stats you don't want to miss:

1. 85% of consumers want businesses to offer WhatsApp as a channel for things like product enquiries and customer service

For smaller businesses, a WhatsApp Business account is easy to set up and free, which is ideal for straightforward conversations and enquiries. For larger businesses, or those that require more advanced solutions, there is the paid WhatsApp Business API, which can connect to business and customer relationship management (CRM) tools. This can be quite complex, which is why we at Zbooni integrated a suite of WhatsApp commerce tools into our platform to make it easier for businesses of all sizes to benefit.

2. 88% of consumers think that WhatsApp is the easiest way to get quick, accurate responses from a business

If you think about how immediate WhatsApp is, how you can quickly send and receive messages, responsive businesses can take advantage of this to provide enhanced customer service. In addition, WhatsApp is the perfect way to share images or videos. In many product or service enquiries, a picture paints a thousand words, so the business provider can immediately and accurately support you.

3. 84% of consumers think that WhatsApp is more useful for business-customer interactions than email

We've all written a well-thought-out email to enquire about a product, or make a complaint about an issue. And then we wait, without much of an idea whether that email has reached the recipient or is being dealt with. WhatsApp changes the game for messaging, as both businesses and customers can benefit from a more productive, faster dialogue.

Related: Riding The Wave: Zbooni Co-Founder And CEO Ramy Assaf Is Capitalizing On The Surge Of Digitization In The MENA Region

4. 10x message open rates for WhatsApp compared to email or SMS

Emerging markets have been quicker to deliver business use cases for WhatsApp than more mature territories. Leading the way are countries across Latin America. Businesses there have seen high open rates and much better customer engagement through WhatsApp. The great thing is that our own data across more than 10,000 merchants that we serve across MENA reflects this trend– WhatsApp is far more effective in reaching and engaging your target audience than other channels.

5. Seven million SMS messages– and not a single sale

This was the result of a fascinating trial by Inphota in the UAE, which tested the effectiveness of SMS. The outcome? Seven million SMS messages sent, but just three replies, and not a single purchase. Say RIP to SMS.

6. Over a 12-month period, an estimated 65% of people in the region used WhatsApp to contact businesses

This figure is only going to rise as WhatsApp is virtually ubiquitous now across MENA. Even with new technologies like Apple's Vision Pro coming to market, we will continue to message and interact with businesses via chat apps and inboxes.

7. 87% of people want real human customer support, not artificial intelligence (AI) or chatbots

There's no doubt that generative AI is going to play a huge part in the way we live and work. But when it comes to what customers want, humans still have a massive role to play. They want to interact with a genuine person who can empathize, provide personalization, and adapt to their needs. There's no doubt that AI is fast, and it's becoming increasingly accurate but humans are stronger at providing bespoke customer service– well, at least for now. MENA consumers want fast, accurate and personalized service, and right now, WhatsApp provides customer service teams with a powerful channel to enhance sales and improve support.

Related: Move Over, Super Apps: The MEA Needs Ultra Platforms That Have User Experience At Their Centers

Ramy Assaf

Co-founder and CEO, Zbooni

Ramy Assaf is the co-founder and CEO of Zbooni. His vision and strategic direction for the business has catapulted it through business and product development, the acquisition of thousands of merchant businesses, its expansion across multi-territories including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt, hiring of a diverse and talented cross-jurisdictional team, and the scaling to a multimilliondollar revenue organization. His experience as part of Middle East Venture Partners in selecting appropriate companies for investor funding, has helped Zbooni become one of the best capitalized startups in the region. Its latest funding came in September 2021 with the closing of a US$9.5 million Series A round. Prior to founding Zbooni, Ramy held a variety of business development, marketing, and venture capital roles. Before embarking on his career, he studied Business Administration and Political Science, graduating from the University of California Riverside. Outside of developing and growing one of the most exciting tech platforms, Ramy spends time with his wife and children, learns about religion and the spiritual sciences, and watches documentaries as well as the NBA. 
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