x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

UAE's first internet hypermarket goes online for shoppers

Supermarket shopping is now just a click away with the launch of the UAE's first online hypermarket. 

The Middle East and North Africa is the world’s fastest growing e-commerce market. Above, a Geant hypermarket in Tunisia. Fethi Belaid / AFP
The Middle East and North Africa is the world’s fastest growing e-commerce market. Above, a Geant hypermarket in Tunisia. Fethi Belaid / AFP

Supermarket shopping is now just a click away with the launch of the country's first online hypermarket.

Géant Online, www.geantonline.ae, is available on both home and mobile devices, offering customers the chance to buy consumer electronics, health, beauty and household products as well as groceries.

Online supermarket shopping is popular in the West, where large chains such as Sainsbury's and Tesco in the United Kingdom have sold products via the internet for several years.

In the UAE many retailers are already online, including Géant's rival, the French hypermarket Carrefour, but up to now shoppers have had to visit stores to buy groceries. However, at the moment, only certain areas of Dubai are covered by Géant's grocery delivery service, while Géant Direct product deliveries, which include electronics items, are more widespread.

Abu Dhabi currently has two Géant Easy supermarkets - one on Reem Island and another in Khalifa City A.

Analysts say that while online grocery retailing is not a revolution, it is an important step forward in developing internet shopping industry.

Most of the prices will be the same online as they are in store, particularly on the grocery side, said Sajid Azmi, the head of e-commerce and digital marketing at Géant and Géant Online.

"The online [store] is a subset of products we carry in the hypermarket and we will be constantly increasing our assortment and range. At the same time, we will have our own separate deals, promotions and at times for chosen products a different pricing strategy taking into consideration the needs of the online customers," he added.

Carrefour sells some goods online at www.ic4uae.com, but the offering is limited to certain products that include laptops, IT and gaming, and health, beauty and personal care.

"[Géant Online] is not a brand new move. It's a leap from what is already going on," said Richard Adams, the director and senior consultant at Acuity Middle East.

"It is my understanding, and it's been a while since I have talked to anyone about this, but [Carrefour] were actually going to roll out a larger product offering online," he added. Carrefour did not provide a comment yesterday.

The online shopping industry in the Emirates was valued at US$281.6 million last year by Euromonitor, compared with $47.8 billion in the United Kingdom and $11.1bn in Brazil.

"We are seeing both traditional online and mobile sales increasing rapidly in percentage terms, generally across the UAE retailing. But the key is from a very low base," said Mr Adams.

The Middle East and North Africa is the world's fastest growing e-commerce market, according to a study by Visa.

The sector grew year-on-year from 2011 to 2012 by $10bn to $15bn, while internet usage rose from 1.2 million users in 2000 to 18.7 million in 2010, the Visa study said.

"Our move towards creating a virtual hypermarket was largely influenced by the fact there's a young, tech savvy base of customers spending a significant amount of time online and that the e-commerce landscape is relatively new in this region," said Mohammad Ashfaq, the group business head of Fucom, the master franchisee for the brand in the region.

"Géant Online has been designed to meet a growing need by online shoppers and also to tap into the huge market for online shopping in the UAE, which boasts one of the highest internet penetration rates in the region," he added.

"The new tech-savvy generation of youth prefers modern methods and access to different services, and online shopping is fast becoming their favourite way to buy goods."

The website adds to the brand's portfolio in the UAE, which includes Géant Hypermarkets and Géant Easy supermarkets and convenience stores.

 

gduncan@thenational.ae