E-commerce market share in Saudi Arabia will hit SR50 billion by 2015, according to Saudi Post sources. It is consistently adopting new buyers and improving revenue. About 1 in 4 Saudi Internet users are already active in e-commerce, and they visit about 70 million e-commerce pages per month. Cash on delivery is still the preferred method of payment for most e-commerce buyers in MENA, reaching up to 75 percent according to Aramex. However, new payment gateways are emerging that are working to solve this and increase trust in online transactions.
E-commerce spending has reached an all-time high in the Kingdom, and more users are getting engaged: user growth is at an estimated 9.3 percent per year. This percentage is very likely to increase faster as e-commerce companies in the Kingdom learn how to earn and leverage their customers’ trust. But the most intriguing forecast is that m-commerce, commerce through mobile devices, will become 7 times larger by 2015, due to the progressively larger demand for mobile tablets. Today the e-commerce clients over population ratio are higher for UAE than it is for Saudi Arabia, but statistics show that the tables will turn in the coming two years.
As for e-commerce market share, the biggest player in the Kingdom today is Souq.com, with a sizeable chunk of Saudi e-buyers at 13 percent. Sukar.com follow with 8 percent of the market under their belt, then comes Namshi with 7 percent, and MarkaVIP at 5 percent. These regional companies make up just a third from the entire Saudi e-commerce market, but they are strong within the rest of the region.
Many Saudi women with entrepreneurial and career ambitions are finding e-commerce to be an ideal platform, as it allows them to build thriving businesses from home. Saudi entrepreneur Sarah Al Dabbagh, Owner of Lace Events, is an example of a successful online business. She first started to promote her wedding and event planning services on Instagram, and soon her business grew with clients from all around the Arab region.
The challenges and potential of e-commerce in Saudi Arabia will be one of the key themes at ArabNet Riyadh 2013, the largest annual digital gathering in Saudi Arabia, taking place for the second year in a row on Dec. 3-4. The forum will explore how to unlock the potential of e-commerce in Saudi Arabia, and discuss the latest trends in online payments. ArabNet Riyadh will feature 80 expert speakers and will bring together more than 800 digital professionals, influencers, entrepreneurs, and investors.
The event will also cover the newest initiatives in digital Arabic content, and will feature an exhibition with more than 40 leading companies showcasing their services and technologies. — SG