A month ago we thought it would be a good idea to really get to know our sellers. We are always looking out for ways we can improve our platform as well as understand the market. We recently asked some of our sellers a few questions about why they sell online and how they go about it. It gave us a fairly good picture of what goes on in the e-commerce world.
Majority of sellers who responded to the survey were small businesses with less than five employees, which demonstrates the enabling role e-commerce plays in a competitive business environment. It comes as no surprise that over 60% of the sellers trade in electronic products. Other popular categories include fashion & jewellery, beauty, home & garden and toys & hobbies.
The past few years have seen significant growth in the e-commerce industry of our region. That also reflected in our survey results as almost 70% of respondents started selling their products online between 2014 and 2016, with majority of new sellers starting out just in the past year. It is evident that multiple selling channels are preferred as more than 60% of participants use three or more channels to sell their products online.
The two main reasons people start selling online are to attract more buyers and broaden their reach, and because online selling serves as an easy and convenient trading platform. The shift has reaped positive results for many with over 60% of our respondents gaining higher profit margins through online channels as compared to offline channels.
By selling online, most vendors are able to reach a much wider audience. Almost 75% of the our survey respondents stated that they sell internationally, and more than 63% of sellers make 1/5th of their sales from international buyers. Shipping costs seem to be the biggest hindrance to fulfilling international orders, with customs charges coming in second. Dubai-based courier company Aramex is the top preferred choice for our sellers, followed by FedEx and DHL. Over 31% of sellers choose to go ahead with a courier service to fulfil orders because of the speed of delivery. Other popular factors include the quality of service, competitive costs, flexibility and the wide reach of buyer destinations that courier companies can offer, making the delivery process smooth and hassle-free.
So what can sellers do to stay ahead of the game and plan their next steps for 2017? About 60% of our sellers are going to try competitive pricing, while more than 20% say they would like to improve their customer service. Some of the current incentives they employ to influence buyer purchase include offering discounts and promotions, free shipping and warranty. When it comes to marketing channels, social media appears to be a popular choice with more than half of the respondents using it to promote their products.