Saudi Arabia leads regional adoption of online shopping post-pandemic

Saudi Arabia leads regional adoption of online shopping post-pandemic
Around 24 percent of surveyed consumers have used a “buy now, pay later” option this year – higher than the 23 percent across the UK and Europe. (File/Shutterstock)saudi
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Updated 20 September 2021

Saudi Arabia leads regional adoption of online shopping post-pandemic

Saudi Arabia leads regional adoption of online shopping post-pandemic
  • 83 percent of 13,000 surveyed consumers said they will “maintain or even increase their current level of e-commerce spending into the next year”
  • The unprecedented growth in both e-commerce and digital payments are also reflective of a developing regulatory regime

DUBAI: When countries implemented lockdowns to control the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers all over the world took to the internet to satisfy their shopping needs – accelerating the growth of e-commerce.

The region was no exception, and the trend is likely to continue post-pandemic.

Based on a new report by global payments company Checkout.com, 83 percent of 13,000 surveyed consumers said they will “maintain or even increase their current level of e-commerce spending into the next year.”

The shift in consumer behavior was remarkable in Saudi Arabia, the report noted, with 53 percent of Saudi respondents saying they shop online at least once a month – above the regional average of 45 percent.

It’s even highlighted during peak shopping seasons, such as in Ramadan, where 76 percent of consumers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE say they were likely to buy products and services online more frequently during the holy month.

The report estimated that 209 million more customers in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Pakistan, — a region known as MENAP — have begun shopping online since the pandemic broke out in March 2020.

The growth in e-commerce owes to a “greater sophistication” in the region’s digital payments ecosystem.

“A flourishing digital payments and e-commerce ecosystem is leading consumers to feel more empowered, with star-ups thriving in the fintech arena, and commercial markets opening up,” said Mo Ali Yusuf, regional manager for MENAP at Checkout.com.

The report said 60 percent of consumers in the region now prefer to use a digital payment method when purchasing online – up by 20 percent since the company’s 2020 report.

Not only is cash being used less, but consumers are also using newer ways of paying, including digital wallets and “buy now, pay later” apps.

Outperforming Europe

Yusuf said MENAP has begun “to outperform European markets in the adoption of emerging payment methods.”

Around 24 percent of surveyed consumers have used a “buy now, pay later” option this year – higher than the 23 percent across the UK and Europe.

“This presents a phenomenal opportunity for global and domestic merchants to expand their businesses across MENA,” he added.

An official at the World Bank earlier highlighted the role of digital payments in economic growth, entrepreneurship, job creation, public service delivery and financial inclusion in the region.

The use of financial technology (fintech) applications in the region has been promising – with 76 percent reporting to use some form of it in the past year, only 4 percent short of the consumers in the Asia Pacific region.

This presents an opportunity to address financial inclusion in the region, the Checkout.com regional manager said, particularly empowering the unbanked and underbanked population.

Government backing and a modernized regulatory regime

The unprecedented growth in both e-commerce and digital payments are also reflective of a developing regulatory regime, with many countries including Saudi Arabia showing keenness in adapting to trends in banking and finance.

Core policies in several Gulf countries are built around promoting a “digital economy,” even accelerated by the impact of COVID-19.

“As countries recover from this crisis, robust inclusive digital financial systems will be vital to creating a foundation for critical gains for sectors,” a statement from the Arab Monetary Fund said.


US supply chain woes to stretch into 2022, warns top official

US supply chain woes to stretch into 2022, warns top official
Updated 17 October 2021

US supply chain woes to stretch into 2022, warns top official

US supply chain woes to stretch into 2022, warns top official

WASHINGTON: The US transportation secretary on Sunday warned that America’s supply chain woes including clogged ports will drag into next year, potentially cramping the upcoming holiday shopping season in the world’s largest economy.

Pete Buttigieg did the rounds on US political talk shows to stress that President Joe Biden’s administration was doing everything it could to alleviate congestion at the country’s overloaded ports, railways and roads, and that the government will “re-evaluate all of our options” to relieve the bottlenecks.

But “a lot of the challenges that we have been experiencing this year will continue into next year,” the transport chief and former presidential candidate told CNN’s “State of the Union” show.


Saudi Arabia gets a boost in maritime connectivity rankings

Saudi Arabia gets a boost in maritime connectivity rankings
Updated 17 October 2021

Saudi Arabia gets a boost in maritime connectivity rankings

Saudi Arabia gets a boost in maritime connectivity rankings

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia made impressive progress in maritime connectivity at the regional level, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development report for the third quarter of 2021.

The Kingdom achieved 70.68 points in the Maritime Connectivity Index, which is the highest in the region, said the report.

The Saudi Ports Authority, also known as Mawani, has forged partnerships with operators and major international shipping lines to develop the Kingdom’s seaports and contribute to the national goal of transforming Saudi Arabia into a global logistics hub.

Omar bin Talal Hariri, president of Mawani, said the authority is proud of the achievement and will intensify its efforts to meet the aspirations of the Kingdom’s leadership.

The index includes several sub-indicators, most notably, the number of scheduled visits by ships to the country within a week, capacity of the ships in standard units, in addition to the number of regular service paths provided by shipping lines to and from the country.


UAE-based Al Dahra to open 3 plants in Eastern Europe


UAE-based Al Dahra to open 3 plants in Eastern Europe

Updated 17 October 2021

UAE-based Al Dahra to open 3 plants in Eastern Europe


UAE-based Al Dahra to open 3 plants in Eastern Europe


RIYADH: Al Dhara Holding, an Abu Dhabi-based agricultural company, will establish five new animal feed plants in Eastern Europe.

The new plants will be established in Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria. The new facilities are part of the company’s efforts to expand its horizons and diversify its sources of production.

The company has opened its first plant for compressing and drying animal feed in Serbia with a production capacity of 120,000 tons and storage capacity of 20,000 tons.

 


Foreign investments in Egypt’s oil sector see 26.02% decline, says minister

Foreign investments in Egypt’s oil sector see 26.02% decline, says minister
Updated 17 October 2021

Foreign investments in Egypt’s oil sector see 26.02% decline, says minister

Foreign investments in Egypt’s oil sector see 26.02% decline, says minister

CAIRO: Egypt's oil minister said on Sunday that foreign investments in the sector fell 26.02% to $5.4 billion in the financial year 2020-21, versus $7.3 billion a year earlier.

“The coronavirus crisis led to a slowdown in investments from international oil companies worldwide,” Tarek El Molla said in a speech to the Egyptian Petroleum Association. 


Over 86,000 Saudi families benefit from Sakani subsidized loans

Over 86,000 Saudi families benefit from Sakani subsidized loans
Updated 17 October 2021

Over 86,000 Saudi families benefit from Sakani subsidized loans

Over 86,000 Saudi families benefit from Sakani subsidized loans

RIYADH: More than 86,000 Saudi families benefited from the Housing Ministry’s Sakani program subsidized real estate loans since the beginning of the year till September, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The program offers two types of subsidized loans, one for ready-made housing units and the other meant for under-construction buildings.

Of the total, 69,497 families benefited from the loan offered for ready-made housing units.

The Ministry of Housing and the Real Estate Development Fund formed Sakani in 2017 to facilitate homeownership in the Kingdom through the creation of new housing stock, allocating plots and homes to nationals, and financing their purchase. It has a goal of reaching 70 percent homeownership by 2030.

The program also launched new e-services to serve people effectively.