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Hepsiburada: the Amazon of the East

Image: Fotolia

Fresh from its IPO Turkish powerhouse, Hepsiburada is embracing the best of global marketplaces as it grows post-pandemic.

Turkey’s ecommerce landscape is dominated by online marketplaces. These serve a mainly Turkish customer base. Hepsiburada (“everything is here”) extends its influence across the Middle East, attracting some 97m visitors a month from the region. Hepsiburada is both a marketplace and a retailer on its own account. In key respects, it emulates the Amazon model by having integrated and capable logistics and free returns.

This integrated, full-cycle commerce is notable in a region where ecommerce usage and spend are lower than the affluent population would suggest. Impediments to digital commerce include the social attraction of socialising at the mall, the relative importance of cash and the availability of developed final-mile delivery services. Hepsiburada’s capabilities as a sophisticated marketplace offer a paradigm of scope and efficiency that sets a standard.

Similar to many marketplaces, the seller onboarding is slick. Moreover, Hepsiburada – like Rakuten in Japan and Alibaba in China – sees a role in market and seller development. The company has specific seller programmes for women-owned businesses (under their female entrepreneur programme) and also for Turkish-owner businesses, so as to present and promote their products to a larger and international audience. In July 2021, Hepsiburada’s US IPO (Nasdaq: HEPS) was the first Turkish listing on the Nasdaq, propelling its founder and chair, Hanzade Doğan Boyner, to billionaire status. The valuation recognised that the business had grown 50% during lockdown, as Turkey’s population turned to online shopping.

The use of proceeds is a sign of the company’s continued ambitions. Having started mainly in electrical and electronic items, and grown to have more than 43m SKUs, the company is looking at grocery (HepsiExpress), airline ticketing and money transfers as growth areas. Clearly the company is learning not just from Amazon but also Alibaba and other giants, looking to emulate the best of global capabilities within this region.

This case study was originally featured in the Middle East 2021 report. To learn more about the state of ecommerce across Iran, Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, download the full report here.

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