DUBAI: As Saudi online retailers build up for Black Friday this weekend, a new survey found the majority of shoppers in the Kingdom said they feel more comfortable buying online this year than in-store.
The survey, carried out by advertising platform Criteo, comes as new data also found that online sales in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) surged 336 percent last year, while overall traffic rose 170 percent.
With similar figures expected this year, as shoppers remain at home as a result of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Criteo survey of 900 Saudi online consumers found that around forty percent of respondents said they plan to buy more products online this year, with household products, groceries and beauty and hygiene products proving most popular.
Alistair Burton, country manager MEA at Criteo commented: “The events of 2020 made it an extraordinary year for e-commerce. Our research shows that this year consumers will swap door-buster deals for online discounts that start sooner and span a longer period of time.”
Overall, the research found that 58 percent of Saudi respondents said they feel more comfortable shopping online this year than in-store, while half also said they were delaying any recent purchases so they can avail of the Black Friday promotions and discounts this weekend.
When it comes to service considerations, 35 percent of shoppers said the shipping cost was a big factor in their decision-making process.
The Black Friday marketing push has a proven track record to result in more sales for retailers. Noon, the online shopping platform backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Dubai businessman Mohamed Alabbar, set a target to attract 25 million unique shoppers in 2019. It claims to have “surpassed” all expectations last year and is aiming for an even bigger figure this year.
During a Noon presentation last year in Dubai to regional retailers, the platform reported that during the “Yellow Friday” sales push, its weekly revenue increased eight-fold, the average customer conversion rate on the portal and app doubled, the number of items purchased per basket rose 50 percent, and the amount of average time shoppers spent on the site increased threefold.
The surge in online interest has benefited the overall economy, with Amazon announcing on Wednesday the creation of 3,400 new jobs across the Kingdom, as it boosts its operations to handle this weekend’s sales rush. The company pointed out that 60 percent of the new full-time jobs went to Saudi nationals.
Amazon also said six months ago it increased its delivery network by 25 percent and launched new delivery stations across Saudi Arabia.
Prashant Saran, director of operations for Amazon Middle East and North Africa, said: “We have continued to invest in Saudi Arabia as part of our long-term commitment to our customers.”