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E-commerce gains in popularity in Middle East

GoNabit, YouGovSiraj poll shows people warming up to shopping online

Dan Stuart, co-founder of group-buying website GoNabit, says the poll gives the company important insight into their customers.
Dan Stuart, co-founder of group-buying website GoNabit, says the poll gives the company important insight into their customers.

Group-buying website GoNabit and YouGovSiraj have revealed that e-shoppers are positive towards online shopping and that group buying is a good entry point to e-commerce for those unused to online buying.

GoNabit and YouGovSiraj polled 2,196 GoNabit users in the UAE, Kuwait, Jordan and Lebanon and released the results of its survey during the ArabNet 2011 Forum.

"We felt the reasons why people don't buy online in the Middle East were well documented - if not often exaggerated. We all know there are issues with payment gateways and a lack of quality homegrown websites. We've essentially sparked e-commerce in every market where we operate and, from our experience, consumer confidence in online shopping is improving. We decided to ask registered GoNabit users, who we consider early adopters of regional e-commerce, what motivates or demotivates their online purchasing decisions," said Sohrab Jahanbani, COO and co-Founder of GoNabit.

The poll findings show a positive outlook for e-commerce in the region, with 93% of poll respondents positive towards e-commerce despite problems of security, availability and delivery. 

According to GoNabit, 66% of poll respondents said that if it is cheaper to buy online they would buy more often, 56% said they would buy more often if it was more convenient to purchase online.

"This shows there is great potential for online stores that can disrupt offline retailers through the cost efficiencies of e-commerce. Online retailers that can provide a mix of value and convenience will see a very receptive market," said Jahanbani.

According to the poll results, the GoNabit respondent sample was skewed towards higher incomes with 38% with monthly salary of $5,333 or more. Fifty-three percent have spent more than $500 on a purchase, 60% would be prepared to do so in the future.

Fifty-two percent of those on the highest incomes have spent more than $1,000 online and 57% are prepared to spend that amount in the future.

Social networking also plays a strong role in spreading the word about e-commerce, with 47% of respondents having used social networking sites to share a deal online. This rises to 60% in the 18-24 age groups. Over 26% made a purchase after seeing something shared through social networking sites.

Ninety-four percent of the poll respondents had conducted online research before buying products online through review websites, friends and family ‘in the know', deal websites, manufacturer websites and consumer forum websites.

"This is the first attitudinal study in the Middle East that demonstrates the role of social networking in converting online buzz into online transactions. Using our Nabber community we can start to gain valuable consumer insights into what online tools e-commerce providers should be using to influence purchasing power and strengthen the sector throughout the region. It also tells us that as an industry we need to apply greater focus to improving security standards and online customer service," said Dan Stuart, CEO and co-founder of GoNabit. "This is first in an ongoing series of pioneering research that you'll see from us."

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