E-Commerce in Morocco – Episode #12
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E-Commerce in Morocco – Episode #12

You’re listening to the Business in Morocco Podcast the podcast that discusses all things
business and all things Morocco. My name is Ryan Maimone, I’m here with my co-host
Ryan Kirk and our goal is to share our knowledge and experiences in order
to help you gain wisdom skills and habits that can help you succeed in
business and in life you can learn more about us by going to our website moroccopodcast.com alright let’s get started with today’s episode it’s going to be a lovely day welcome to episode 12 of the Business
and Morocco Podcast. this week we’re gonna be talking about e-commerce in Morocco
I’m Ryan Kirk and I’m here with my co-host Ryan Maimone, Ryan how’s it been
going? what’s new? how’s life in America? good we’ve been here for about two weeks
we’ve adjusted to the time difference that’s always fun with kids yeah just in
the time difference with kids is interesting because it was about five
hours difference which means their normal time of getting up in the morning
at 7 had turned into 2 a.m. fortunately we were able to keep him up late enough
at night that they slept into all about 5:00am the first day and now we’re
actually on a normal schedule so that’s going well we’ve also come to realize
that my wife is allergic to this area what??? something that yeah something
especially during spring time with all the pollen in the air and the trees so
she’s got some allergies here that she has not had in in Morocco or in France
so that’s an interesting development and I continue you know I continue to work
on this podcast and working on supporting my clients who are in Morocco
and in the United States doing advertising Google Ads, Facebook ads, and
preparing for Ramadan which is going to be starting for you guys here soon and
we’re going to be changing a little bit of the way that we do advertising during
Ramadan in light of the fact that there is a reduced work schedule and people
are fasting during the day and and behaving quite differently during
Ramadan than they do the other parts of the year mm-hmm yeah well I mentioned
last week that I went up to Tangier to speak at a university while I was there
I filmed a video about about whether Moroccan should try to escape Morocco
or whether they should invest in Morocco and the video has received a lot of
attention and a lot of feedback and it’s not a divisive topic but there’s
definitely a variety of opinions and some people feel they really want to get
out of Morocco and some people are very patriotic and nationalistic and want to
invest in making this country a better place so that’s gonna be great because
next week on the podcast we’re gonna be talking about some of the challenges and
the opportunities for Moroccans who move overseas yeah that’s great I look
forward to to discussing that topic I have a few things to say about Moroccans
who who think that the grass is always greener in that it’s it’s better to move
to Europe or to the United States and you’ll have a better quality of life
there I don’t I don’t happen to agree having lived in all three of those
continents but we’ll talk about that next week
all right let’s get into the topic of the day which is ecommerce in Morocco we
have a bit of experience in this area there are a few companies that are
really trying to gain a foothold in the e-commerce space and I think the first
one that we should talk about the one that is in my mind the most similar to
amazon.com which is the biggest and most powerful ecommerce retailer in the world
is www.jumia.ma hmm I’ve used Jumia quite a few times they have two options
they have Jumia local or Jumia Morocco where the products are are in Morocco
and you can expect delivery within one week and they have another search option
on their website which is Jumia Global where the products are located overseas
mostly in China and the delivery takes between four
to six weeks depending on the the source of the product I’ve only ever
used Jumia local I’ve had good experiences I bought a pillow I bought a
dehumidifier I bought some some shoes for my daughter
and every time the payment has been processed I’ve received email
notifications that my payment was accepted and the order was accepted then
I get further notifications regarding the delivery time and date in fact they
actually give you the name and phone number of the person who is going to be
delivering the item and when you can expect them to deliver the item so in
that sense I’ve had very good experiences the quality of the products
has always been as expected the delivery is usually early it’s usually earlier
than the expected delivery date when you first order and overall I’ve been very
satisfied with the services and the offerings the one challenge I think will
get into this a little bit later when we talk about e-commerce challenges is that
I have yet to have a driver who was able to locate my house without having to
call me first yeah that’s that’s an ongoing battle we
have that problem every time we order food or when we’ve used Careem, when we
used Glovo all these different services where you can utilize your smartphone
that seems to be an issue when it’s location dependent yeah many many
delivery drivers in Morocco whether they’re on a scooter or they’re in a van
they usually have flip phones and not smartphones now if you don’t have a
smart phone you’re not able to use Google Maps or Waze and that creates a
big challenge for the driver I think it would be a lot easier if these platforms
started to provide smart phones for their drivers they would be able to
complete a lot more deliveries each day they’d be a lot more efficient and it
would be a better customer experience if you type in my address into Google
Maps it pops right up and it is exactly right so there should never be a reason
to call me to coordinate the delivery of my items. oftentimes the driver his
French is is okay and my french is okay but when you have two people who speak
French just okay that causes difficulties especially when you’re
trying to tell someone where you live yeah and the names of the streets are
not always well known yeah I completely agree actually our street isn’t on
Google Maps and so I usually type in the closest corner but I always get a call
and so a lot of these apps they they give you the option to drop a pin so you
you do pinpoint your location but if the person doesn’t have a smart phone or
they’re not comfortable following the map they’re asking for a specific name
of a street and that’s something that doesn’t help people because our street
is tiny and nobody in Casa knows it and the language thing I’ve had several
drivers who speak almost zero French and that basically matches my level of
Darija and so I’ve had times where I need to
walk out onto my street and ask somebody standing there to communicate with the
driver in Darija because otherwise I’ve got no way of getting the guy to my
house yeah this is probably the number one challenge for e-commerce in Morocco
is the delivery process e-commerce is not going to catch on until the deliveries
are reliable and the customer experience is great this is what Amazon did in the
United States they basically went from one-week delivery to four day delivery
to three day delivery to two day prime delivery the drivers never called the
customer to ask them where they lived it’s an essential part of the customer
experience to have the driver be able to deliver the products without the
homeowner needing to be there without having to coordinate
the delivery by phone so if Jumia or these other platforms like Glovo or
Marche Express or Click Apporter are going to succeed in the e-commerce space
they need to figure out the delivery process and how to enable their drivers
to make deliveries without calling the customer yeah do you think it’s possible
to deliver something here if the home owner isn’t there I mean you see a lot
of videos online of people stealing packages off porches in the States I
mean there’s just no way you could leave a package in front of somebody’s home or
on the steps of an apartment building here that leads us to another big
problem so that the biggest problem for e-commerce in the United States is the
inability to leave a package at a front door because what that requires is the
the home owner or the business owner to be there and receive the package and
then it requires the delivery company to make multiple efforts to deliver the
package which costs time and money mm-hmm but in the United States I would
estimate that 90 percent of the the items bought on Amazon are left at the
front door without the person being there and and it’s actually gotten to
the point where Amazon has developed this technology where the driver can remotely
open the door to the customers house they scan the package they open the door
there is a camera inside the house that videotapes the driver opening the door
and leaving the package on the inside of the house so they have developed this
technology which solves the problem of packages getting stolen off the front
porch by allowing the delivery driver access, temporary one-time
access to the house and being videotaped during the process that’s incredible I
mean I know the technology’s there because I’ve I’ve heard a lot of Airbnb
owners that have software programmed locks that just require a passcode and
they can be changed from your smartphone remotely and sent to somebody and then
soon as the person’s used it once they change it again so I know the technology
is there I just hadn’t heard of people using it simply for e-commerce purposes
yeah when I worked in e-commerce I worked for a company that delivered
amazon.com packages and stolen packages and mis delivered packages was our
biggest problem and if you can get to the front door and you can validate that
you’re at the right place by scanning the package and scanning the app in your
phone and it remotely opens the door to the customer’s house then you have
validated that delivery and the package is safe on the inside of the house as
opposed to on the front steps another solution I saw in Canada that I
haven’t heard of here yet maybe I’m unaware of it is having drop-off
locations so the bank that I go to in Canada there’s a whole set up of lockers
in the lobby various sizes and you can have packages delivered there from
several different fulfillment centers and then on your own time your own
convenience you can go and and just pick it up there at a public place that is
called Amazon locker in the United States and those lockers are placed
strategically throughout major cities and places like convenience stores and
pharmacies grocery stores you go to those lockers and you enter your code
and it opens the correct Locker that has your package mm-hmm and that’s a great
option as well I think that’s something that that could work here in in Morocco
and in fact they are sort of doing that because they have Jumia locations where
you can order your package to be delivered to the location they’ll hold
it for you and you can go and pick it up there actually this may be a great
business opportunity in Morocco as e-commerce is ramping up but you have
the two problems which we’ve identified which are drivers needing to find the
location the owner not being home or there being a high risk of theft this is
a great solution where you have these centralized
locations where there’s a locker in each neighborhood and that could be something
that you sell as a business owner to all the different platforms to to Jumia to
Click Apporter to whoever is delivering Amana is another one instead of the
instead of these companies having to communicate with the customer and
arrange a time that they’re they’re both at the location they just drop it off at
their convenience and there’s a lot of economies of scale there as well because
you can drop all the packages for the same neighborhood right into that locker
so it saves these companies a ton of money and it improves the customer
experience yeah if we’ve got any entrepreneurs in our audience that that
would be something to think about, uh huh this episode is brought to you
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smart school in Morocco where learning is serious fun now back to the show I think one of the other issues or challenges for e-commerce in Morocco is
the widespread use of cash for everyday purchases when you are paying cash in
person upon delivery which Jumia offers you can either pay with your bank card
online or you can pay with upon delivery then that is an obstacle
to efficiency as well because that requires an interaction between the
driver and the customer there’s really no way around that if you’re going to
exchange cash for the item upon delivery mm-hmm
to the extent that Morocco remains a cash based society that’s going to
present challenges to e-commerce yeah definitely another issue that’s facing Morocco when it comes to buying and selling in a
global marketplace is the fact that Morocco’s currency still has capital
restrictions it’s still closed and controlled and that limits the
e-commerce possibilities here now that that creates an opportunity for
entrepreneurial people like the owner of clickapporter.com who he recognizes that
a lot of Moroccans want to purchase things on Amazon and order it in from
Europe but there’s a cap for how many Dirhams they can spend internationally
as well as the hassle of having to deal with the duoane and and the time it can
take and so Click Apporter has tied in to Amazon’s back-end and you can order
products and pay in Dirhams and they’ll sort out all the logistics and the
shipping and dealing with customs and deliver right to your door so it’s
almost as if for the customer that Amazon has a fulfillment center in
Morocco and that you can pay in local currency so it’s it’s created a business
opportunity to to get around some of those restrictions that exist but the
hope is that in the future Morocco will open the doors and make it
a lot more make it a lot more open for the currency to flow in and out of the
country I think is the same with PayPal if I understand correctly you can
receive hard currencies from around the world and deposit those into your bank
account but you can’t purchase things or you’re
limited in what you can purchase using Dirhams in the global marketplace am i understanding that correct yeah as far
as I know the restrictions for foreign currency transactions are about forty
thousand Dirhams per year per person I know that at my bank Banque Populaire I can apply for a visa card that will allow me to use those forty Dirham’s in overseas
purchases and Euros or in dollars or in Pounds by simply using that credit card
and it’ll it’ll deduct the amount in Dirhams from my account
mm-hmm but that’s only possible in my personal account if I wanted to make
overseas purchases with my business that card is not available to me so I have
still yet to figure out how I can use the revenue from my business to pay for
overseas services like website domains and hosting and advertisements on Google
and Facebook so that is a challenge to to e-commerce and to online business in
general in Morocco so we’ve definitely covered quite a few challenges but let’s
also look on the bright side first of all Morocco has very good
internet and it does have one of the highest internet usage and smartphone
usage levels in the region so there’s great opportunity there and when I moved
to Morocco five years ago there weren’t even any banking apps so
even major banks like Attijariwafa and Banque Populaire they didn’t even have
ability to do your banking on your phone that’s come a long way in five years and
it seems like every few months there’s a new opportunity where now I don’t need
to go into Lydec and wait in line and I can do it right from my phone through
my banking app same thing with paying for my internet or adding credit to my
phone another thing has been Wafacash which
they put up all these small little kiosks all over the place they are
everywhere in the major cities which makes it far simpler to move money
around the country I’ve got the GB Pro app on my phone so as I’m preparing to
sell a digital product here in Morocco yes it’s not as simple as it would be in
some other countries but it’s far simpler than it would have been just two
years ago so there’s some challenges but we’re moving in the right direction
which is exciting yeah I think there’s a lot of opportunity for e-commerce in
Morocco just looking at the number of platforms so we already mentioned Jumia
there’s Jumia Food there’s Glovo, Click Apporter, there’s
something called Marché Express where you can order your groceries I was
looking there today you can get 12 kilograms of vegetables 99 Dirhams
which if that’s delivered to my house that sounds like a great deal Marjane
also offers delivery so you can order online and all orders of two thousand
Dirhams or more will be delivered within 40 kilometres of a store so that’s
another great offering especially if you’re going to buy large furniture
items or other things like that the other e-commerce platform we haven’t
mentioned yet is Careem, I think that there’s a lot of possibilities for Careem,
especially for those of us who don’t live on major streets where the taxis
are coming by everyday if we’d like to have the the car come to our house and
then take us to a location that requires left and right turns then a taxi may not
be the right choice for us we may want to take a Careem and I think they’re that
more and more people are going to be using to go places in Morocco yeah agreed I’ve I’ve really been impressed with Careem
service I was really sad when Uber left Morocco and I posted something about on
Facebook and one of my friends commented hey bro switch to Careem it’s been
fantastic and he was right I’ve really been impressed with the service if I’m
going somewhere I often use Careem or if I need to get somewhere for a specific
time and I don’t have enough flexibility to just wait and see whether a taxi will
come it’s worth it to pay a little bit more for me to to use a Careem there’s
also a couple e-commerce services where you have the opportunity to sell things
like Avito and Babelist which is you know a startup app just a few years old
in Morocco these are guys that grew up in Europe that moved to Morocco to start
this business because they saw the opportunity for e-commerce here they
could see the things we’re talking about the potential in this unsaturated market
and they thought we are going to have an opportunity to to gain some first mover
advantages so I think there’s these challenges that are holding back a lot
of people but you can also see it as an opportunity to be some of the first
movers and to begin businesses that are challenging now but will become easier
and easier as these barriers and obstacles are removed yeah Ryan you
actually have an experience that you documented regarding your your order on
Glovo where can people go and see that video that that you produced regarding
Glovo this past summer Glovo completely covered the city in yellow billboards
advertising their services and I’d never heard of Glovo it was brand new entering
the market starting in Casablanca and so I made a video on my youtube channel
Maroc Treasure documenting my experience and giving some information about the
application so if you’ve never tried Glovo and you are living in either Casa
Rabat, Marrakech and soon to be Tangier you can check out
that video just simply by Googling Glovo Morocco
you’ll see my face you’ll see the video and that’s a great one to learn about
their services I think in general the e-commerce atmosphere in Morocco is
getting better the availability of platforms payment methods and delivery
is improving everyday I think there’s a lot of hope and a lot of opportunities
for e-commerce in Morocco going forward yeah I agree
the future’s bright you’ve been listening to the Business in Morocco
Podcast my name is Ryan Kirk here with my co-host Ryan Maimone, if you enjoyed
this episode be sure to subscribe and leave us a five star review on iTunes
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library of podcasts on our website moroccopodcast.com where you’ll also
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theme music is Lovely Day by Bill Withers used under Creative Commons and we hope you’ll have a lovely day doing business
in Morocco we’ll see you next time

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