The Turkish e-commerce sector has been enjoying an upward trend in recent years. The industry went through a successful 2018 and has now rolled up its sleeves for new achievements this year. Total 2018 year-end revenues for e-commerce, which has been operational in Turkey since 1997, are likely to hit TL 50 billion ($9 billion), according to Association of E-commerce Operators (ETİD) Chairman Emre Ekmekçi, who said by continuing its achievements throughout the new year, the industry is expected to grow around 30-35 percent. "2018 was a year full of success. These successes will continue increasing in 2019," Ekmekçi said.
The Turkish e-commerce market, which has been contributing greatly to the registered economy, reached TL 42.2 billion in 2017.
ETİD Head Ekmekçi was cited by Anadolu Agency (AA), as saying that as is the case all over the world, e-commerce is trending in Turkey, noting that in the light of developments in 2017 and 2018, a powerful online shopping culture has begun to develop in Turkey.
Special days celebrated with big discounts for many years in the world have also resonated with Turkish consumers, Ekmekçi said, noting that especially on Nov. 23, the sector had a share of 6.4 percent and broke a huge record by contributing to the growth of the retail sector. "Our year-end target for 2018 is TL 50 billion," he added.
"The e-commerce sector is a sector that is not affected by economic changes and shows a continuous growth trend. Therefore, we aim to maintain this growth in 2019 at the same rate. Thus, we expect a growth of 30-35 percent in 2019," he added.
Ekmekçi said important steps were taken in 2018 especially towards e-export and that the export target for 2023 was also among the short- and medium-term targets of the e-commerce sector.
He said that they have developed strategies and made investments to increase Turkey's share in the international market and make the country a known e-commerce region.
Saying that consumers in Turkey love online shopping, Ekmekçi said that there is a consumer population in the country that keeps pace with the digital.
He said mobile use in Turkey is well above the world average, which raised foreign investors' interest in the sector in 2018, suggesting that investments will continue in the coming years.
"If the right strategies are invested in, it is possible to say that there will be great opportunities in the market. The future of the e-commerce sector, along with the changing habits of consumers, promises great hope for Turkey," he said. "In this sense, the big players' entry into Turkey is very pleasing for the sector, and we hope that this situation will contribute to the expansion of our continuously growing market. In the meantime, these players' presence in Turkey and their support for local employment is very important for us."
Indicating that consumers no longer want to get lost among the products they are not interested in, Ekmekçi said customer experience has moved to a different dimension along with personalization.
Ekmekçi underlined that consumers want their shopping experiences to be completely customized. "Therefore, artificial intelligence and big data algorithms will be an indispensable part of e-commerce. However, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) will bring the customer experience to a perfect point both in retail and in e-commerce," he added.
He said even though it is a new shopping habit for Turkey, it is noteworthy that a multichannel system in retail is becoming a part of daily life all over the world. Explaining that delivery times are one of the biggest reasons consumers prefer physical stores to e-commerce, ETİD Chairman Ekmekçi suggested that consumers no longer want to wait for deliveries all day at home, but also want to determine the delivery time and location, citing that same day delivery, fast and night delivery by courier, scheduled delivery, click & collect, and online order collection spots come to the fore at this point. "Even delivery by drone will be available in the near future. We believe that the share of mobile commerce will increase much more in the next five years," he noted.
Saying that mobile use is very high, especially in the textiles and apparel categories, he said that besides the purchase of products, users look at where the store is located and whether the product is in that store or not on their mobile phones.
Providing information about e-commerce via social media, Ekmekçi further explained that cross-border e-commerce piracy accounts for 20 percent of Turkey's e-commerce industry, while sales via social media constitute 10 percent. "In total, we have an annual tax loss of nearly TL 1 billion, which also leads to an increase in the current account deficit," he concluded.