The prospect for exponential growth in Qatar’s promising e-commerce industry is to be expected, a survey conducted by the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) has said.
Social distancing policies and government-issued preventive measures against the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) have been pushing Qatar residents to migrate online, which means e-commerce will play a vital role in people’s day-to-day lives.
Even as early as 2019, the MoTC had conducted a survey to gain insights on key trends related to e-commerce in the country, according to the ministry’s e-commerce portal.
The survey captured how often Qatari residents make online purchases, and revealed their experiences with online shopping in Qatar. The data extracted from the survey is now driving the MoTC’s new initiatives to promote e-commerce in Qatar, the portal stated.
The results showed that as much as 60% of Qatar consumers are willing to use e-commerce, while another 44% said they are willing to shop online; 15% of the survey respondents bought a product or a service online in 2017.
The MoTC said the survey results indicate an enormous growth potential for Qatar’s e-commerce industry, and presents a clear business opportunity for local entrepreneurs and businesses to engage and invest in the sector.
Also, the survey showed that people shop online for convenience and efficiency with 34% of e-shoppers saying that they use e-commerce to save time. “This emphasises how important product availability and delivery time are in the e-Commerce experience,” the survey said.
Most survey respondents said they are willing to buy airline tickets, hotels reservations, and taxi/limousine services from local e-merchants, which means that Qatar’s services industry “has the most potential to thrive online.”
“The least sought-after category is food and groceries, which is possibly due to the proximity of supermarkets and the slower-paced lifestyle compared to countries in Europe,” it explained.
On e-commerce for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the MoTC noted that 50% of the survey respondents could not identify a local e-commerce shop.
“To improve their market share (which is currently only 12%), Qatar’s e-commerce businesses must focus on marketing and awareness of their platforms,” the survey pointed out.
“SMEs should drive social media campaigns and make sure they are advertising their online presence across all media. SMEs can also try taking part in temporary exhibitions like pop-up stores in malls to improve their brand awareness.”
The survey stressed that in order to further increase the share of online shoppers in Qatar, online businesses should pay special attention to mirroring the ‘see-and-buy’ behaviour, where the customer tries the product or service before they pay for it.
“The inability to do so online is another reason why many Qatari consumers are reluctant to adopt e-commerce. However, local e-merchants could partner with a service delivery provider, for example, to offer a quick and free return and exchange policy, allowing customers to try before they buy,” the survey recommended.
According to the survey, the most important factors for online shoppers are easy payment and price transparency, which underlines the crucial need for user-friendly and secure payment gateways.
“E-merchants can easily achieve this by providing full transparency in all charges applied to customers, and by partnering with a reputable e-Commerce payment gateway service provider,” the survey said.
The survey stated that user experience, which plays a major role in a customer’s purchase journey, is another area that “needs further development in Qatar.” It noted that 72% of survey respondents said the user experience on international e-Commerce websites “is better than on local e-commerce websites.”
“To attract a wider pool of loyal e-shoppers, Qatari e-merchants can consult with top digital agencies to improve and optimise the user experience on their platform,” the survey further explained.
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