Middle Eastern e-commerce is on the rise and it is expected that the online turnover will grow from 9 billion euro to 15 billion euro in 2015.
Region has 30 million online customers
The Middle East, with countries like Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, currently has some 30 million online customers, according to a Payfort study. A lot of customers live in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, partly because both emirates have a lot of foreign employees with high wages.
Almost 7 out of 10 online shoppers claim the favourable prices are a reason to shop online, while 56 % believes the ease of use is also a benefit. Plane tickets, travel arrangements and digital products are the most popular online purchases.
Remarkable is that mostly young people buy things online. The Egyptian-focused part of the study shows that 75 % of all purchases are done by people in their twenties or thirties. 70 % of online shoppers is male.
With an increasing amount of people having internet access in the Middle East, the future seems bright. Only 28 million had access in 2004, but ten years later, that number rose to 141 million.
Still obstacles in the way
There are still a few issues to be dealt with, as the number of Middle Eastern e-commerce companies is still very low. There are a few regional success stories, like Souq.com.
A lot of deliveries are still "cash on delivery", with 80 % having to be paid on arrival, which raises prices. It also takes longer before the money has been transferred as more than 80 % of people in the Arabic world does not have a bank account.
More involved parties have to arrive to stimulate e-commerce in the region, but Payfort also believes payment methods have to change.