COVID-19 is impacting how consumers perceive e-commerce.

By Esahaque Eswaramangalam, Chief Editor
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Recent ITCAN report suggests a shift in a trend where the mayhem created by the novel coronavirus (COVID 19) is urging consumers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to opt for e-commerce websites to gather their essentials instead of going out to malls and retail stores, demonstrating an overnight change of consumer habit from bulk-buying to online shopping.

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Certain products such as skincare and other personal hygiene items have shown a skyward surge following new regulations by authorities to limit outdoor activities and advancing people to stay at home to check the further spread of the coronavirus infection.

ITCAN Study noted the brisk increase in these categories between February 26 to March 26 in both countries. In the UAE, the rate of orders for skincare rose to 143.96 percent with 99.92 percent of the increase came from orders made by new users, revealing a conversion rate of 33.45 percent in terms of website visitors or footfall. For the same category, orders in KSA advanced to 105.37 percent with 32.7 percent by new users and a conversion rate of 63.59 percent.

The makeup category also earned large orders in the UAE reaching 275 percent with 148.57 percent ordered by new users. The conversion rate was 67.93 percent. In KSA, the orders for makeup products shot up to 769.67 percent by March 26 with 187.15 percent of the orders from new users, leading to a conversion rate of 276.48 percent.

Mansour Althani, CEO & Co-founder of ITCAN

Mansour Althani, CEO & Co-founder of ITCAN, said: “The current global health situation is leading consumers worldwide to adapt to alternative ways of getting their goods, particularly through online shopping and they are likely to spike even more as cities raise the level of restrictions on people’s movement outside their homes. This shift in consumer behavior puts e-commerce platforms on the forefront to support people in the region who are still used to shopping their needs in malls and stores to move towards online marketplaces.”

Although the situation across the GCC is under control and essential goods are very much available in all supermarkets, there continues to be a high turnout on e-commerce platforms for safety and precautionary reasons he added.

“The online orders made between February 26 to March 26 reflects a big jump and this continuously increasing demand are pushing major e-commerce companies to start setting their own standards on what types of products are considered essential to manage the surge of orders and meet people’s needs accordingly. We see this event’s impact on consumer behavior towards online shopping will go beyond the current crisis and will serve as an impetus to further accelerating the growth of e-commerce in the region”

E-commerce is already a fast-growing market in the Middle East, however, its crucial role in the community has been highlighted by the prevailing health crisis, solving people’s problems, and probably saving lives. As the virus affects many firms, many have quickly reacted to the need of the hour and updated their online presence to keep their customers and attract newcomers.

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