Online Retail Growth Expected in Middle East Markets
The UAE has led the growth of B2C E-Commerce in the Middle East in the past several years by several measures. Apart from being the largest online market in terms of sales, it also has the best infrastructure for B2C E-Commerce, with the highest mobile, smartphone, Internet and payment card penetration. With more consumers shopping online every year, the share of B2C E-Commerce on total retail sales of goods in the UAE is forecasted to triple between 2014 and 2019.
Saudi Arabia is the second largest B2C E-Commerce market in the region. M-Commerce has an especially high potential there, with more than two-thirds of online shoppers making their latest online purchase via smartphones according to a survey done last year.
Israel is another promising market. Price is an important factor in B2C E-Commerce in Israel, both in terms of attracting online shoppers and in competition among the merchants. With both Internet and online shopper penetration growing, Israel shows high potential for online retail growth.
In Qatar, the country with the third highest per capita GDP worldwide, less than 20% of Internet users made purchases online, despite the fact that the majority of residents already have Internet access. Consumer surveys indicate that better prices than in in-store retail could motivate consumers to shop online more.
Among other Middle Eastern countries, Bahrain stood out as the fastest growing B2C E-Commerce market. In Iran, the environment of online retail development has been improving over the recent years, with a number of E-Commerce start-ups emerging. Meanwhile, in Oman and Jordan, Internet penetration grew rapidly, but only a small percentage of Internet users have grasped the benefits of online shopping.
UAE-based online merchant Souq is one of the most prominent players on the B2C E-Commerce market in the Middle East. Souq is the unbeaten leader in its home country and has received over a hundred million USD of investment. International players, such as Amazon.com, eBay and Aliexpress are also among the most popular destinations for online shopping across the markets in the region.
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