Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups in Qatar aiming to develop their online platforms should also consider expanding overseas, an industry expert has said.

“If you are a startup and aiming to grow (your business) you need to have a plan to expand overseas, in the GCC and the Mena (Middle East and North Africa), because Mena is one of the biggest regions and its population is extremely high,” delivery app Snoonu's digital marketing head Alibek Tnaliyev told participants at a webinar on Thursday.

Tnaliyev underlined the importance of adopting “digital and e-commerce technologies in the post coronavirus (Covid-19) era” to further grow businesses. The Digital Transformation of Small and Medium Business Enterprises live session, which forms part of a programme under Qatar’s Ministry of Transport and Communications, aims not only to introduce the country’s digital landscape but also to educate SMEs on how to capitalise on the current situation (post-Covid) in boosting and optimising their businesses (operational cost, resources etc.).

While many tech companies have significantly benefited from the Covid-19 pandemic in the past few months, he noted that they continue to grow and expand despite certain disruptions. Some of the crisis’ impact, Tnaliyev said, include shopping constraints, non-essential business ordered to close, facing new challenges as many work remotely, and shutting down of movie theatres and other entertainment centres temporarily, among others. “We didn’t expect that there will be a huge traffic during those months," he stressed, citing the advantage of having an online presence, particularly the use of social media and other digital platforms in promoting products and services.

Tnaliyev said that the Qatar market remained to be one of the best markets to introduce and launch a product due to the population’s high internet usage and penetration, in connection to the country’s strong Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure.

In his presentation, he noted that mobile phones get the biggest share of web traffic by device with 66.1% followed by laptops (32.6%), tablet computers (1.3%), and other devices (0.04%).

Meanwhile, Qatar has a total of 2.83mn (of the 2.86mn population) active social media users, (mostly using mobile devices) translating to 99% penetration. “If you are a business owner and do not have any social media presence, you are losing a lot,” Tnaliyev said.

Facebook remains to be a favourite social media platform in Qatar with 2.4mn users, including companies, due to its sophisticated features for advertisements, followed by Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIN. “Asian expatriates (in Doha) use Facebook more while Instagram is another channel that cannot be neglected because of the quality of its audience is every high," stressed Tnaliyev.

Expressing confidence that Qatar’s e-Commerce and digital landscape will continue to grow, he urged companies in the country to invest in digital marketing channels as well. “If you do not have the scale to invest competitively, find a suitable digital market place (Snoonu),” Tnaliyev added. Another tip he shared is for businesses to reinvigorate their organisation: “New digital talent (UX, visual design, scrum, etc) will be needed and many of your existing employees will not be able to adapt. Seize the opportunity to replenish your talent base and invest ambitiously in your culture and digital ways of working leveraging latest corporate team and interaction platforms."

Related Story