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Gulf leads MENA e-commerce, lags behind rest of the world

Gulf leads MENA e-commerce, lags behind rest of the world

New survey finds GCC still has a long way to go in online retail, in spite of second-generation e-commerce success.

September 23, 2010 8:41 by

According to a new survey, 43 percent of internet users in the Gulf use e-commerce. It puts them well ahead in the wider Middle East and North Africa region, where overall just three in 10 internet users purchase goods or services online. Online research company Effective Measure and Spot On Public Relations surveyed 7,000 internet users across the region to uncover the stats. But while the GCC leads the region, it lags behind other markets for online shopping. In a developed market, such as the UK, for instance, some 62 percent of internet users use e-commerce.

“There is undoubtedly enormous potential for growth in the MENA online retail sector, as well as an immediate opportunity for targeted marketing to effectively reach the significant audience that’s already actively buying online,” said Brendon Ogilvy, vice president for digital insight at  Effective Measures. “Despite the fact that the overall level of online shopping activity is low, at 32 percent of Internet users, that still represents a market of more than 20 million online shoppers across the Arab world. The new survey report provides some useful insights for brands in the region investing in online marketing or considering consumer e-commerce initiatives.”

According to the survey, the most popular online purchases in the Gulf (as recorded in June, July and August of this year) are airline tickets, hotel reservations, books, computer software, and clothing and accessories.

“It will come as no surprise to many that the GCC has the most advanced online commerce market [in the region], but the survey shows some much needed perspective for online marketers in the region,” said Spot On PR’s managing director Carrington Malin. “While the GCC leads the region’s online buying with four in 10 internet users buying online at least once a month, only two in 10 internet users buy online in the Levant and North Africa.”

This means there exists a latent, potentially huge swath of the market that has yet to embrace e-commerce, both in the GCC and the rest of the MENA region. Companies that can position themselves ready for this growth stand to make major profits.

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