Electronics most bought goods online as e-commerce takes off in Saudi Arabia

Electronics most bought goods online as e-commerce takes off in Saudi Arabia
A YouGov survey has found that electronic goods are overwhelmingly the most popular products to buy online in Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)
Updated 28 February 2018

Electronics most bought goods online as e-commerce takes off in Saudi Arabia

Electronics most bought goods online as e-commerce takes off in Saudi Arabia

LONDON: Electronic goods are overwhelmingly the most popular products to buy online, favored by 88 percent of Saudi Arabian consumers — particularly males (90 percent), according to research published on Wednesday.
The study also found that in the three months before the survey was carried out, 32 percent of online shoppers in the Kingdom said mobile phones were the hottest electronic products to buy online.
The YouGov eCommerce Tracker, a syndicated study of online consumer behavior launched in 2017, interviews 2,000 consumers every quarter in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
The tracker also found that 52 percent of Saudi consumers said websites with multiple categories and brands only available online are where they do most of their online shopping.
Retailers with stores and online offerings are less popular, favored by 27 percent of online Saudi shoppers. Meanwhile, single brand websites with a physical presence in store and online are favored by just 17 percent.
It was also revealed that ease of finding products was the main reason for shopping online for 56 percent of KSA respondents.
Finding the right price point was a key factor in deciding to shop online — a quarter said they could find better prices on the web than in store. Around one in five also found it is easier to compare prices and products. “Price comparison is particularly important for those aged 40-plus,” said the report.
When it came to where people bought online, most Saudi consumers preferred international sites (44 percent), while 26 percent favored local sites and 30 percent had no preference.
UAE consumers, however, were almost equally split with 39 percent favoring local and 38 percent international sites, while 24 percent had no preference.
The study revealed that more variety could lure more consumers to local sites — 29 percent of respondents in the Kingdom bought from international sites because of the choice of goods on offer.
Commenting on the findings, Nehal Jibouri, YouGov head of customer research, said: “As one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets in the world, it’s vital for businesses in the Middle East to stay shopper-ready to maintain pace.
“We’ve designed the eCommerce Tracker to provide intelligence about consumers’ day-to-day online shopping preferences, aversions and limitations, both at an industry and brand specific level, so that businesses can listen, act and pre-empt customer needs.”
He said the latest data showed variety and convenience were key for consumers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia who wanted products quickly and at the right price.
“Finding the right balance of communication around products is important to ensure consumers weren’t being pushed to shop when they don’t plan to,” Jibouri added.
Despite the growing developments in online shopping, Ahmed Reda, Middle East and North Africa consumer products and retail leader at EY, told Arab News at the end of last year that he didn’t believe online shopping would overtake retail in the Kingdom.
His said that despite the growth of online shopping, the vast majority of purchases would remain offline and in-store — and will continue to do so for years.
Nevertheless, things are moving fast. In December, the online “Arabic-first” shopping platform Noon.com launched in Saudi Arabia, aiming to carve out a share in the growing e-commerce market.
Noon is a joint venture between Emaar Properties chairman Mohamed Alabbar, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and the Kuwaiti franchise operator M.H. Alshaya Co. It launched in the UAE in October.
The Saudi market offers significant growth potential to online retailers, analysts told Arab News, given the low proportion of the population who regularly shop online.
“KSA is a key market for online retail,” Euromonitor analyst Rabia Yasmeen said, adding that the online share of the Saudi retail market was around 1.4 percent.
Norma Taki, head of retail at PwC Middle East, said the consultancy’s 2017 Total Retail survey results showed that 27 percent of shoppers in KSA liked to shop online each month, compared with 45 percent who shopped online just a few times a year.
“There is a huge opportunity for market entrants such as Noon.com to come in and capitalize on opportunities presented by a young, tech-savvy population,” said Taki.