Likes of Amazon and eBay boosting Middle East e-commerce
Global websites such as Amazon and eBay are increasingly shifting their attention to regional markets in a bid to drive up sales, which is helping the Gulf’s e-commerce sector to thrive.
Last year 35 per cent of consumers in the Middle East purchased goods online, compared with 26 per cent in 2012, according to a survey conducted by MasterCard.
Furthermore, as 45 per cent of consumers made at least one online purchase in the first three months this year, the industry is expecting substantial growth.
“Players in markets like the US and Europe are looking abroad more and more, so delivery services are becoming easier,” said Aaron Oliver, the head of emerging payments for the Middle East and Africa at MasterCard. “Overseas brands are waking up a lot of local brands.”
The study looked at online customer habits in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Lebanon, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman.
Among the most popular online purchases were airline tickets and other travel-related services such as hotel bookings. In Lebanon, however, groceries topped the list of the most common items bought online.
Souq.com was the most commonly visited site in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with Amazon following closely behind. This week Souq.com secured US$75 million round of investment from Naspers, a South African media and internet group. The website has 6.2 million registered users and receives 23 million visits per month.
“When we look at this overall shopping landscape, it is what you would expect. UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are leading the way in e-commerce,” said Mr Oliver.
These countries enjoy particularly high mobile and internet penetration rates, better delivery services and a wider number of goods to buy.
A recent study from PayPal suggests the e-commerce market in the Middle East and North Africa region will grow to $15 billion by 2015, with 10 per cent of the transactions conducted via mobile devices.
Follow us on Twitter @Ind_Insights
Updated: March 25, 2014 04:00 AM