Qatar’s e-commerce market is expected to grow from $1.2bn in 2017 to $3.2bn in 2020, according to an industry expert at the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC).
Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of a forum held recently in Doha, Moayed Siddiq, an industry expert at the MoTC, said Qatar’s e-commerce market is growing at a rate of 17% per year.
In 2014, the business-to-consumer (B2C) market in the country reached “just over $1bn,” making Qatar the seventh-largest market in Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, figures from the Qatar National e-Commerce Roadmap 2015 showed.
According to the roadmap, global e-commerce B2C sales totalled $1.5tn in 2014. During the same period, the average person in Qatar spends $3,453 annually, with each transaction valued at $264, the roadmap said.
“The Qatari economy is one of Mena’s fastest-growing economies and boasts the world’s highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita…in Qatar, these factors have translated into the highest average annual e-commerce spend per user in the Mena region and an average value per online transaction higher than the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) average,” the roadmap said.
Moayed said a survey on the shopping habits of e-commerce consumers conducted by the MoTC in 2017 revealed that 67% of the products ordered were purchased outside Qatar.
“I think the leading reason for that is trust, followed by availability and price. For us, we want to help put the local merchants on a platform. Through the trust marketing initiative, we are essentially saying that these local merchants are doing a good job in selling their products, and we want to support them and we want to show consumers that they are trustworthy. That’s the whole objective of the programme,” Moayed said.
Moayed also identified other barriers like e-payments and the lack of the right payment tools, the lack of trust in the payment process, and slight issues on easy and efficient delivery options. However, Moayed said that Qatar Post is doing “great work” to address issues related to the delivery of products.
“Qatar Post is doing some fantastic work in sorting out some delivery issues such as a connected programme that allows consumers to shop from anywhere around the world.
What we’re doing in the ministry, through the Qatar National e-Commerce Roadmap 2015, is to really educate consumers and merchants and we’re trying to rollout trust initiatives, which is all about helping create tangible trust in local merchants for consumers,” Moayed said.
He said the MoTC has plans to boost services of local merchants and provide incentives to companies that offer special services such as door-to-door delivery. The MoTC, he continued, is also offering local businessmen workshops on e-Commerce, training programmes, and initiatives that would provide them web presence. To boost e-commerce in Qatar, Moayed said the MoTC will launch a set of policies for e-commerce best practice for the local industry. Last year, the ministry launched an e-commerce information portal that provides merchants and consumers a step-by-step guide on how to maximise e-commerce.
Moayed: Qatar is one of Mena’s fastest-growing economies. PICTURE: Jayaram