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E-Commerce Goes Giant / Special Interview

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January 2013 / Export Magazine – The new generation’s relationship with internet usage is in direct proportion to the new generation’s use of the internet, indicating that e-commerce, which is good for now, will become a shining sector in the future.

E-commerce, which opens the door to a shopping world where there is plenty of choice, attracts attention that companies are turning more and more every day. We talked about the perception, trade volume and the rise of the sector with Digital Marketing Manager Erkan Terzi, who mentioned the great interest of the user in e-commerce.

What would you like to say about the development of e-commerce in Turkey?
The development of e-commerce in Turkey is exceeding expectations and will continue to do so. Many important factors such as internet technical inadequacies, high user costs, credit card frauds and lack of information about online shopping in Turkey in the previous years have started to disappear. Especially the interest of the younger generation in the Internet will increase this volume day by day. The most concrete example of this is that while the volume of e-commerce in Turkey was 5,537.17 million TL according to BKM 2007 data, this figure reached 25,313.15 million TL before the end of 2012.

Can you give information on the trade volume of the sector (in numbers) Which countries do the most e-commerce in the world? How does Turkey compare to the world?
There are no clear figures on the volume of e-commerce and the size of the worldwide e-commerce market, but according to Goldman Sachs data, it is estimated to exceed 1 trillion dollars in 2013. The trade volume of the sector is 226 billion dollars only in the United States and according to last year’s data, a growth of 12 percent was realized. Only e-bay’s annual turnover is 2.4 billion dollars. All these figures and growth percentages show that e-commerce has gained validity not only in our country but also in the world and continues its growth curve. The regions in the world where e-commerce is most prevalent are North America, Europe (Western and Northern Europe) and the Far East-Pacific countries (Japan, China, Singapore and Australia-New Zealand regions). Turkey is not among the top 10 in the overall ranking; the UK, Japan, the United States, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and many other European countries have the highest e-commerce volumes.

What percentage of internet users shop online? Which sites are popular?
One out of every 5 internet users in Turkey shops online. The service sector ranks first in this area, followed by electronic goods and computer sales. According to GFK research, ready-to-wear clothing, accessories and precious jewelry sales ranked first with 51 percent in the 6-month period of 2012. It is followed by electronics with 36 percent and travel/travel shopping with 15 percent. The most popular websites in Turkey are: gittigidiyor.com, sahibinden.com, hepsiburada.com, biletix.com, thy.com, markafoni.com, yemeksepeti.com, avon.com and trendyol.com.

Do you think e-commerce is perceived as a sector?
E-commerce has started to be perceived as a sector in Turkey. It is especially pleasing that companies that want to sell products to the end customer are aware of this area and are working on this area. Consumers want to shop from this area and the data shows that this number will increase day by day; because the new generation’s interest in the internet is great and the living conditions inevitably show e-commerce, whether with price advantage or ease of purchase. Being in this field will be important for many companies, if not for every company. This applies not only to the end customer side, but also to companies that sell from company to company. It is also a separate and important obligation to carry out this business by experts who know the right strategy and business. At the same time, e-commerce is not a sector; it should be perceived as an alternative channel where you can sell your product or service and all your plans should be prepared accordingly.

Which sectors started their business life with e-commerce or achieved success in their commercial life? How many companies are engaged in e-commerce in Turkey? Do you think this number will increase?
The ready-to-wear and accessories sectors have entered a rapid growth trend. Until yesterday, it was not considered possible to sell textile products in our country, but today consumers can even order shoes over the internet.  Apart from this, cosmetics, body care products, white goods and household products are on a separate rise. Electronic products and computers, on the other hand, seem to be at the top of the list and will continue to be so. It is unlikely to know the exact number of e-commerce companies in Turkey, but we can easily say that this number is in the thousands. Today, we have companies that have become brands by selling only in this field: hepsiburada.com, gittigidiyor.com, markafoni.com, yemeksepeti.com are just a few of them. There are also many websites such as e-bebek.com that sell only in certain niches and have become brands.

There are still producers in Turkey who do not have a website. Why do you think this is? Lack of knowledge or lack of interest?
I don’t think it is lack of interest, the most important factor is that companies do not have enough information about this field. Today, it is a necessity for companies to have a quality website. However, it is also very important for the company to establish e-commerce structures with integrated works to their websites or as a separate website. At the same time, as I mentioned before, companies should not see e-commerce as a sector; they should see it as an alternative channel. Using this alternative channel is important for both sales, branding and creating a new communication channel. Working in this field is not as costly as it is thought to be. I am sure that all our companies will realize this important issue over time and will add e-commerce sites to their digital portfolio in a short time.

What would you like to say about the contribution of mobile applications to e-commerce?
Mobile phones have entered a new technological era; the contribution of internet-connected smartphones to e-commerce will be significant. Today, a portion of e-commerce sales, albeit not high, are realized through mobile phones. With the ease of access to the internet and all the technical features offered by computers, mobile phones will continue to be a great tool of e-commerce with the advantage of being with us at all times and instantly connecting to the internet.

What should be the goals for the e-commerce sector?
First of all, “Does your company need an e-commerce site?” If the answer to this question is “Yes”, first of all, I should point out that selling online is not as easy as it seems. Preparation of the website and product photos, setting and integration of appropriate payment options, tracking the order and shipping process, providing E-CRM support to the customer, planning pre- and post-sales marketing activities, accounting of all these transactions, implementation of media communication activities and many other important details are the prerequisites for sales in the e-commerce world. Apart from this, do not set out by calculating that you will make a sale of half or more of your total sales turnover in Turkey. The e-commerce site is a plus sales channel for your company; if you do not sell only over the internet, do not expect this area to be the locomotive of your sales wagons.

Finally, do you have anything to add?
In our country, e-commerce is perceived only as selling products or services to the end customer and most of the work done is in this direction; however, an important point that is forgotten is that e-commerce can be not only from company to customer (B2C) but also from company to company (B2B). Today, most of the e-commerce volume in the world is company-to-company sales. Therefore, keeping your vision wide and starting to work without wasting time will be the most important and necessary step to be taken in this field.

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