Tunisia flag Tunisia: Buying and Selling

E-commerce in Tunisia

E-commerce

Internet access
Tunisia, with its 11.7 million inhabitants, is on the smaller side of e-commerce markets both in its region and in Africa as a whole. Nonetheless, Internet penetration rates have increased tremendously since the dawn of the digital age (+7,798% since 2000) and the country now has the third highest Internet penetration rate in Africa, after Kenya and Seychelles, at 67.7% (%23 y-o-y increase) (Internet World Stats). With such high Internet penetration rate, Tunisian Internet users (7.9 million) account for 1.7% of the total Internet user population in Africa despite Tunisia's total population accounting for only 0.9% of the whole African population. Total number of active number mobile Internet users stood at 7.01 million in 2017 (Hootsuite 2018), comprising 60% of the Tunisian population. As far as search engines are concerned, Google dominates the market and its share is close to its African average (93.56% for Tunisia and 94.93% for Africa. Yahoo has a relatively high share in Tunisia (5.3%), compared to the global (1.94%) and African (2.33%) average.
E-commerce market
Tunisian e-commerce is growing, but remains less dynamic than leading markets in Africa, such as South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Morocco. E-commerce sales reached US$ 63 million in 2017, according to official figures of the Tunisian National Institute of Consumption (INC), which remains quite low compared to more mature African e-commerce markets such as Morocco (US$ 2.35 billion) and South Africa (US$ 2.3 billion). As such, e-commerce accounts for 0.16% of trade in goods and services. However, it is important to note that the Tunisian Institute of Consumption does not consider cash-on-delivery transactions, which are estimated to account for 70% of e-commerce sales, as online orders. Jumia, the largest e-commerce platform across Africa, is also the top online retailer in Tunisia. The website held special sales events in 2017 such as Mobile Week, Jumia Anniversary and Jumia Black Friday, which reached 1 million daily visitors as well as 15 000 daily orders, breaking records of the Tunisian e-commerce market. Vongo, Affariyet, Bazar, Coucou Tunisia, Joker and MyTek are also among major online retailers in the country. Cross-border trade used to be negligible owing to the Tunisian dinar's status as a non-convertible currency and the general lack of credit cards and electronic payment methods. Nonetheless, more and more Tunisia-based websites offer transhipment services from French e-commerce platforms, as well as from Amazon and AliExpress. The lack of diversity in payment methods is a matter of concern for domestic e-commerce websites, and most offer only cash-on-delivery, which represent an estimate of 70% of all online transaction payments in Tunisia, a high rate when compared to the world average of 7%. This can also be explained by Tunisians' lack of trust in online payment methods: according to an IPSOS survey, the primary reason for Tunisian Internet users who do not shop online is the lack of trust in online payment (71% as opposed to the world average of 49%). Several websites, including the leader Jumia, are expected to offer more online payment methods in 2018. PayPal has also entered talks with the Central Bank of Tunisia to offer its payment services in the country. Furthermore, the Tunisian government partnered with Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 2017 to offer more secure shipment deliveries.
E-commerce sales and customers
Despite ranking third among African states in the B2C E-commerce Index of UNCTAD (79th worldwide), Tunisian e-commerce sales do not match the country's potential. Domestic retailers dominate the e-commerce market comprising 79% of all online transactions. 80% of e-commerce transactions were ticket sales, hotel reservations as well as payment of utility bills and tuition fees (INC). The Tunisian e-commerce market includes a total of 1,423 websites (2017) and most popular products sold on these platforms were apparel, high-tech products, watches, perfumes and beauty products. Online shopping is highly localised, as 98% of all transactions came from four major cities: Tunis, Sfax, Sousse and Gabes, according to DevElite. People aged between 25 and 34 are the most active online shoppers, and middle and high-income consumers are likely to shop more often, with many of them indulging in luxury purchases. Cross-border e-commerce purchases are not possible in Tunisia, because of a non-convertible currency. The exception is a specific allowance granted from the Tunisian Central Bank, which has historically opposed such transactions. Also, mobile e-commerce is virtually nonexistent, mainly due to the general lack of online payment systems. In general, products are widely available in Tunisia, and most consumers can purchase them in their immediate vicinity, which is one of the reasons why most people haven't adapted to online shopping yet. The Government has implemented the 'Digital Tunisia 2020' program, where a number of regulatory measures and infrastructure projects are being taken, aimed at improving internet connectivity to under-served areas, which should drive e-commerce growth as a result of higher connectivity rates.
Social media
Almost all Tunisian internet users have a social media account (7.2 million social media users out of 7.9 million Internet users). However social media is used in general less actively than in most other countries across the MENA region. Facebook, with nearly 7.2 million users, is the leading social network platform in Tunisia, despite the fact that YouTube is the most visited website, according to Hootsuite. Facebook is particularly popular among men, with 56% male users and 44% female. Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, which are particularly popular in the Gulf countries, lag behind and failed to record a significant increase in their number of users in recent years. Snapchat is only used by 5% of the population while Twitter stands at 12% (MidEast Media Survey). Instagram fares better than Snapchat and Twitter, with 1.6 million users (14% of the total population), of which 52% are men and 48% are women. Most social media users - 6.4 million - also access their accounts via mobile. As of August 2018, the most popular social media platforms by market share in the country were Facebook (83.39%), YouTube (13.78%), Pinterest (1.28%), Twitter (1.13%), Instagram (0.14%) and Tumblr (0.08%).

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Latest Update: November 2022

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