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HomeEntrepreneurshipE-groceries -The Soaring eCommerce Segment in the Middle East: What is the...

E-groceries -The Soaring eCommerce Segment in the Middle East: What is the New Normal?

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There is a long list of things Coronavirus has changed completely, and one among them is the consumers’ way of shopping. A major shift to eCommerce has happened, and e-groceries is the one soaring segment in the Middle East and the rest of the world. Let’s understand why?

The COVID-19 infection is truly a life-changer. A lot many things have changed within and around us that it has become difficult to differentiate between the normal and the new normal. The hunt for daily-use items made people turn to online shopping such that, many first-time users explored the eCommerce platforms during the lockdown and may continue to do even post-COVID. If we take a look at the Middle East consumers, a major shift has taken place in consumer behaviour. The natives of MENA who preferred offline shopping more and spent about half of their income behind luxurious products, today, are more into shopping groceries online.

So, what is the New Normal?

Is online shopping going to be new normal? Most probably, yes! With Coronavirus showing no signs of fading away and the discovery of vaccination still under trials, we have to accept the new normal and live with it. But what exactly is the new normal? Well, it means a lot of changes in our lifestyle and around us., some of which are as follows:

  • The priorities have changed. Giving up the craze of shopping for non-essential items, people are now focusing on buying essentials and even stocking them up for emergencies.
  • Consumers are becoming more cautious and are questioning everything from the source of products to the safe delivery of it.
  • Eating out will take time to jump back to normal because of people avoiding crowded places.
  • Offline shopping will take longer to gain sales like before due to people preferring shopping online.
  • Travels will drop, and people will make use of digital technologies more to connect with each other.
  • Work from home which was initiated as an experiment is now becoming a permanent work culture.
  • People are giving importance to hygiene and are washing hands, cleaning surfaces, veggies and fruits as an obsession now.
  • Contactless culture will prevail. Hugs, handshakes, hi-fives, are not gonna happen anytime near soon.

E-groceries Sales During the Lockdown

Now let’s take a look at some facts that prove how online grocery shopping took over the Middle East market during the lockdown.

Before COVID-19 seeped into our lives, the e-grocery market constituted less than 1 per cent of the e-commerce industry. Only 27 per cent of consumers in the MENA region ordered groceries online, but now, coronavirus is driving many people across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to turn to e-commerce platforms in getting their essential needs met. The fear of contagion triggered online grocery shopping in all countries of the Middle East as follows:

  • UAE recorded a massive growth of 560% in online grocery shopping between January and March.
  • While the Supermarket operator Carrefour’s online orders in Saudi Arabia spiked by 917% and in Egypt by 747% from January to June 2020.
  • Grocery has topped among the e-commerce categories in the UAE and Saudi Arabia for recording over 300% spike in daily order volume.
  • Even there was a sudden surge in the app downloads, especially the US-based grocery delivery apps like Instacart, Walmart Grocery and Shipt of about 218 per cent, 160 per cent and 124 per cent, respectively during the month of March.
  • Amidst the pandemic, some regional online grocery players too stepped up their game to beat the foreign markets like the Saudi-based online grocery app Nana who managed to raise $18m in funds to support the company’s expansion in times of heightened demand in March and strives to deliver 100,000 orders every month to Saudi-based consumers.
  • Another Saudi-based online retailer BinDawood Holding that runs two e-commerce platforms BinDawood and Danube linked their respective supermarket and hypermarket chains and increased its sales by 200 per cent, along with a 50 per cent rise in average order and 400 per cent spike in app installations.
  • Carrefour recorded a staggering spike in regional customer demand at its physical and online stores, and its daily online sales soared by 50 per cent in the first three weeks of March, compared to February.
  • Many food delivery platforms like Talabat extended its free-delivery grocery service to 24-hours a day and increased its coverage across Dubai, while a UAE-based Theo’s Point initiated a new grocery delivery service locally.
  • An e-commerce platform Wadi.com completely shut down their non-food offering during the pandemic and geared up for grocery delivery in partnership with Carrefour to meet the demands.
  • Overall, the UAE witnessed a rise of 31% in online grocery sales with 66% of users agreeing to continue shopping for groceries online even after the end of the pandemic. While 95% of Saudis shifted to online grocery shopping in response to the lockdown.
  • Meanwhile, in Bahrain, a thousand grocery retail stores moved online to sell their products during the Coronavirus crisis.
  • The traditional Kuwaiti market too decided to go digital during the COVID-19 outbreak by building mobile apps and activating social media accounts.

What Grocers Must Do to Survive the COVID-19 Crisis?

Of course, for grocery retailers, it is a hard time to run their business due to no crowd. With people migrating to online grocery shopping, here’s what offline grocers can do to survive and stand out during and beyond the pandemic:

  • Approach a grocery app development company in the Middle East and get your online presence built first. Build a supermarket mobile app with excellent features for your business continuity and to meet the growing consumer needs.
  • Implement new technologies. Try to incorporate the latest technologies like AI, Virtual Reality etc. into your grocery store website development solution to serve better than the competitors.
  • Level up your inventory management to improve the efficiency of your supply chain. With people panic-buying, make sure you have a good supplier network, sufficient backups and redundancy to secure smooth product flows, features like push notifications to keep customers informed about the out-of-stock and availability of products on your store etc.

In a nutshell

Groceries are the most essential thing than others for anyone and if you are planning to meet the consumer demands of the Middle East, then opting for grocery shopping app development is the right thing to do.

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