Lebanese marketplaces: Opportunities and challenges
Taking advantage of a business slump, two Lebanese marketplaces use the opportunity to step back and rethink their strategies
The global rise of e-commerce is among the most significant trends emerging during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in Lebanon.
In addition to the economic crisis that the country has been facing, several marketplaces have emerged to meet the needs of brands and consumers. Lebanese Signature and Hadiyati are such marketplaces created during the months of confinement.
They were made possible following the launch of the International Trade Centre’s We-Fi ecomConnect programme, and, co-owned by one of project’s e-commerce advisors.
Joyce Mouawed, founder of Lebanese Signature spent two years gathering companies to represent on her platform. Her goal was to give them international visibility so that they could export Lebanese know-how to the world.
Co-owner Rhea and project advisor Rhéa Abboud confirms: “The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the transition of companies to e-commerce. Today there are many more Lebanese marketplaces operating at the local or regional level.”
The rise of online commerce, however, brings challenges, especially as the country is going through an unprecedented crisis. Among the most prominent are access to the internet and to electricity. Currency fluctuations, low purchasing power and an unstable banking system also raise concerns.
“We first had to make sure that the platform payment gateway was solid to establish a trusted system and create a wide range of trusted partners,” explains Joyce. “Online business needs a well-defined and well-organized system. Photos and content are the most important pillars to present products, but quality, packaging system and delivery process are also important.”
As a partner in the programme, Lebanese Signature offered the possibility for beneficiary companies to create visual content to promote their products on the platform.
Rhea worked as an advisor with various local companies. She helped them define their e-commerce strategy, improve their product and business content, optimize their websites, and reach new international markets based on market research using ITC market analysis tools.
Marketplaces are a great way for small businesses to target new markets and sell their products online, without having to worry about the time-consuming creation and management of a website. While a marketplace is a solid starting point, companies also need to be active on social media platforms while investing in marketing.
About the project
The ITC-World Bank We-Fi project in Lebanon is part of a regional project that gives women-led small businesses access to markets through e-commerce platforms and improves their e-commerce related business environment and infrastructure. The project’s participants are now connected to local and international e-commerce platforms and receive practical advisory support.