According to a special Mastercard Shopping Behavior Study released recently, e-commerce is finally making its mark in the Middle East, and how. The UAE leads the table with just above 50% of consumers reporting that they had used an e-commerce platform. With around 70% of the UAE’s population connected to the internet, and with almost 75% with smartphones, that is no surprise. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are followers on the leader board with nearly 48% saying they have transacted online. The study was based on a survey of 3000 people.
Areas where people use e-commerce include shopping for air tickets and other travel-oriented services, DVDs, CDs and books, clothing and accessories and food items. These have always been e-commerce favorites – anywhere in the world.
Shopping transactions via mobile phones are also expected to grow strongly in the region, increasing by almost 20% in the next few years. That, again is not surprising with the smartphone-in-wallet ratios climbing steeply every month. Telcos are now tempting consumers with bundled data+handset offers, and this only means that there will be sharp increases in what we call m-commerce (e-commerce via mobile).
In a report on the ArabianGazette website, Aaron Oliver, head of emerging payments – Middle East and Africa, MasterCard said: “Well-developed internet infrastructure and the availability of secure online payment options means companies can expand their online presence to grow their business and diversify their customer base. For consumers, online shopping is convenient, fast and safe. When you consider the benefits, it is not surprising that more people are going online to make purchases.”
“The steady growth of online shopping trends in the UAE sheds light on the priorities of the technology-savvy new age consumer, who now enjoys the convenience, speed, value for money and safety of their transactions while shopping online,” added Oliver.
How does this change the Middle East shopping landscape? Are brands going to jump on and perhaps open up their own stores online offering Direct-to-Customer benefits of lower prices and assured quality? Are major aggregator online retailers going to increase their product spectrum? Is it going to be a local rather than global game? We’re not quite sure yet. And we’ll deliver that news to you as and when it happens. It will be Cash on Delivery, though.
from a blogpost by Tom Roy