Online shopping to see increase in the Middle East
According to a new report by the Chalhoub Group
Following on from recent regional online launches such as BySymphony.com and its more affordable young cousin, SIVVI.com, plus of course more established portals such as Net-a-Porter and MatchesFashion.com, affluent shoppers in the region each spend on average $2,400 a month on beauty, fashion and gift items. This figure is mentioned specifically concerning Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The study found that although 84% of those who use the Internet say they regularly access brand sites, only 26% actually do shop online, "for 44%, it is the need to see and feel the product that makes them shy away from Internet purchase," it added.
It's a statistic set to change however, as the region's massively young population increasingly looks for unique experiences and products, with a strong desire for original and limited-edition products, which is known to be a key differentiator for Gulf customers.
During a presentation in Paris this week, Anthony Chalhoub described how information is now travelling at a lightning speed, "We see customers showing up with a printout from a fashion show that took place two hours earlier and saying, 'I want that product now.' It makes us a little nervous because we don't know the product – we don't even know if the brand is going to commercialise it."
His brother Patrick Chalhoub predicted that the ongoing quest for things that are 'novel', combined with a desire for an increasingly effortless shopping experience, would drive higher Internet use, both at home and in stores. "In parallel with what is happening in the rest of the world, there will be fewer barriers between the digital world and the external world," he stated.