Iran is usually not the first market you think of concerning e-commerce, but it' s a rapidly expanding one nevertheless. As of current, there are approximately 24000 e-commerce websites in Iran, with Digikala and Bamilo being the biggest names in the market. The growth of internet-users in the country is taking on tremendous outreaches. The internet and credit-card penetration rates are the main reasons why this market is reaching extraordinary heights, to the point where the industry needs new business models to keep up with the rapidly increasing consumer demand.
The nation's consumer demand in technology has always been higher than its supply, but at least right now it can be said that Iran has been developing a stable and reliable infrastructure everybody can work with when it comes to all things digital. Technology is actually a big and very essential market for Iranians, both inside and outside the country: Many Iranians in other countries love to pursue a degree in computer science and related fields such as Artificial Intelligence, classical computer science or computational linguistics, along with pursuing business skills to capitalize on their knowledge on technology. This reached the point where more and more Iranians are putting their attention into Silicon Valley firms and are also being hired by them. Take the former Expedia CEO and new Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, or the founder of code.org and its famous “Hour of Code”, Ali Partovi, as one of many examples that are making it big in technology. Based on those facts, and the high tech-savviness of the average Iranian citizen, it is no surprise that ecommerce is also a highly important market for many Iranians across the globe.
The extraordinary growth rate along with an ever-increasing user-market means that the e-commerce industry is becoming one of Iran’s most foundational markets. In a world where the value of data is surpassing the value of oil & gas, the increasing incorporation of technology into the standard Iranian's household is heavily beneficial to the country’s economy. “In Iran, two-thirds of the population is currently under the age 35. These young people are educated, tech savvy, and full of potential (Business Insider).” This shift in the Iranian economy and technology & ecommerce as a new market will dictate the future of the country, as it is up to the large young population that are passionately working in related technology fields. Learning from their older generation how to do business in their country, combined with their knowledge on e-commerce, technology and digital marketing, Iran's generation Y are working in industries that are on the country’s forefront of economic development and diversification.
Even though Iranians face some difficult obstacles such as International sanctions from the US and the UN, for foreign investors, this might be a reason for caution and meticulous business planning, but also worth the effort for opening up business in Iran, as the country’s digital scope of business holds many untapped opportunities to work with Iranians in order to capitalize on a highly promising market. With e-commerce purchases in Iran steadily replacing many "classic purchases in the country very fair rates, there is no magic element that should restrain anyone from expecting this market to grow further.
Running an e-commerce business in Iran needs several elements: Tech-savviness, digital marketing skills, knowledge on the Persian business culture and the local economy along with their unwritten rules, creativity for developing solutions (especially because of bureaucracy) and an understanding of current domestic opportunities especially in the start-up scene. While knowledge on technology is essential, making business is a different thing entirely. Digital marketing agencies in Iran know the market very well and know how to make a brand and website stand out.
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