This holiday season shopping via mobile devices will overtake desktop purchases, with electronics accounting for 76 per cent of sales globally, according to Adobe Digital Index, the US market research firm.
The Christmas shopping season in the West is kick-started by Black Friday, also known as White Friday in the Mena region, on November 27 and Cyber Monday on November 30.
White Friday is expected to feed into the growing e-commerce segment, with one UAE industry player saying that online sales account for about 3 per cent of overall retail spending from just 1 per cent two years ago.
“E-commerce is now worth about US$7 billion per year in the Mena region,” said Omar Kassim, founder of the online marketplace JadoPado. “That figure can be skewed by what you include as e-commerce, but online shopping has approximately doubled in the region in the past 24 months.”
JadoPado has changed its business plan from an online retailer of electronics to a marketplace platform that hosts a variety of sellers and products. It recently sold a 14.8 per cent stake in its business for Dh14.69 million to an investor group led by Beco Capital, the venture capital firm, underlining the increasing interest in the sector.
“We now have 2,500 vendors on our site,” said Mr Kassim. “Forty-eight per cent of our traffic is from mobile platforms and conversion from mobile stands at 28 per cent.”
The White Friday shopping event, run by Souq.com in the region, last year generated six times more sales than normal and is expecting to double that number this year.
It is thought that the Black Friday moniker comes from the day when many retailers, which do not make a profit until the Christmas trading period, move from the red into the black. The earlier vendors can attract customers to start buying for Christmas the longer the shopping season lasts, hence Souq.com starting daily White Friday deals from today, but only via its mobile app.
The region’s love of big-screen smartphones is thought to be a key driver of mobile commerce.
“Before, if you wanted to use your mobile to browse the internet in earnest, you needed a high-spec phone,” said Ronaldo Mouchawar, the chief executive of Souq.com.
“Now you have brands offering top-spec phones at a fraction of the price you would expect. This means that people who would not normally be able to afford a device of this nature are now able to purchase one. It is this democratisation of technology that is driving the natural uptake of mobile commerce”.
Tags: Abu dhabi | Ajman | Dubai | Fujairah | Middle East | Ras Al Khaimah | Sharjah | Technology | UAE