E-commerce market in GCC to reach Dhs72.29 billion in 2020 - GulfToday

E-commerce market in GCC to reach Dhs72.29 billion in 2020


Officials during the RetailME virtual roundtable.

Business Bureau, Gulf Today

Global retail sales were projected to reach $25.04 trillion in 2021 and $26.7 trillion in 2022, up from approximately $23.6 trillion in 2018, according to Statista, an online tracker of global economy and retail sector.

In 2019, e-retail sales accounted for 14.1 per cent of all retail sales worldwide. This figure is expected to reach 22 per cent in 2023.

The e-commerce market size is expected to reach $19.7 billion (Dhs72.29 billion) in 2020 in the GCC.

Saudi Arabia is the largest market with $8.3 billion (Dhs30.46 billion) followed by the UAE with $7.5 billion (Dhs27 billion). The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the retail sector and transformed consumers as it is rapidly changing the $25 trillion global retail landscape, experts said at the Virtual Roundtable on Intelligent Orchestration of Retail Experience, organised by RetailME - the region’s only dedicated market intelligence provider for the retail sector.

“We have seen a paradigm shift in consumer behaviour towards the digital channel. A lot of consumers quickly embraced online shopping that put retailers under tremendous pressure to expand the digital channel,” said Hozefa Saylawala, Director of Sales - Middle East, Zebra Technologies, a technology enabler for the retail sector.

“During the initial phase of the pandemic and lockdown, a lot of retailers identified the gap as well as the opportunities. We have seen tremendous demand to engage with retailers keen to make the shift. Consumers are now asking for more self-service, contactless payment options for shopping.”

Justina Eitzinger, Chief Operating Officer of Images RetailME, said, “These statistics show that the potential for e-commerce in the GCC and the greater Middle East region is huge. Most people in the region are still brick-and-mortar shoppers. We believe, this is going to change fast, due to the current environment dominated by health and safety concerns and social distancing.

“Our virtual roundtable series provides very crucial insights into the digital landscape that helps retailers and consumers to understand the rapidly changing retail landscape that provides new opportunities. Retailers could gain important insights that could help them remain ahead of the curve.”

Most retailers who already had established their online channels, saw a massive jump in orders through their apps, experts said.

Adel Sajan, Director of Danube Group, said, “Online purchase had accounted for only 5 per cent of our total sale before the pandemic. However, it jumped 500 per cent to 25 per cent of our sale during the lockdown, before settling at 10 per cent currently.

“Since purchase decision on home furnishing takes time and consumers need to touch and feel the products, we initiated virtual meetings with our key customers and offered the products through a virtual tour of our stores in order to ensure the customer gets a good look at the product.

“Recently we launched a pilot project through which we despatch a wide variety of home furnishing products to the clients’ homes by our trucks and the customer can see, touch and feel the products. If they like, we install on site. So, instead of the customer coming to us, we are taking the store to the customers’ doorsteps.” According to Alpen Capital, the GCC retail sector is projected to grow at a CAGR of 4.0 per cent from $253.2 billion (Dhs929.24 billion) in 2018 to $308 billion (Dhs1.13 trillion) in 2023. Retail sales have been under pressure in the recent years but are estimated to recover and grow through 2023.

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