RIYADH — In a recent online survey conducted by Nielsen, 87% of respondents in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) say they have ever shopped online, and travel category seems to dominate this space. More than half of KSA respondents stated that they have purchased travel products or services online (56%), which is higher than the Africa/Middle East regional average (41%). Many in KSA have also ranked IT/mobile (38%), consumer electronics (33%) and fashion (33%) as the most sought after items through e-stores.
Consumables, on the other hand, still have some way to go before consumers are comfortable buying these items online. These include consumer-packaged goods such as products for baby and young children, medicine and health care, household cleaning products and fresh groceries. In KSA, more than two thirds (70%) of respondents stated that they prefer to buy fresh and household groceries at a physical store and will not consider buying them online. Images simply cannot replace the physical look, feel and smell of these products. When asked on the level of willingness to utilize digital options to order groceries online for home delivery, only 26% cited they are already using, 33% are definitely willing and 26% are somewhat willing.
Nevertheless, online grocery shopping still has the potential to grow. While not being able to hand-pick fresh groceries is a clear barrier to online adoption, if quality assurance is guaranteed, the allure of purchasing groceries online will expand. The survey revealed that a money-back guarantee is the most effective strategy to encourage shopping for consumables. Many of the respondents stated that a guarantee of a full refund for fresh produce that do not meet expectations would definitely encourage (49%) or somewhat encourage (37%) them to buy their fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy online.
When it comes to information sources to influence purchasing,, the most effective source for fresh groceries in KSA is the traditional touchpoints. Thirty-three percent stated that visits to a physical store help them decide which fresh groceries to buy. For beauty and personal care products, social media (30%) and word-of-mouth (30%) seem to be the most preferred source. This is consistent with the global average, 44% for fresh groceries and 39% for personal care and beauty products. For durables, store websites top the list of sources when it came to fashion (40%), while 41% cited brands websites as the most influential source of information for consumer electronics.
As the most widely cited information sources used in purchasing consumables are visits to physical stores, there are digital enablement options for retailers to consider to further influence consumers in making their purchase decisions in store. More than half of KSA respondents (58%) stated that they are already using or definitely willing to use online or mobile coupons, while 59% are already using or willing to login to store WIFI to receive more information on offers if these were made available in store. Fifty-seven percent are already using retailer app or loyalty program app on their mobiles to receive information or offers while in-store.
“Digital has disrupted the traditional retail ecosystem and e-commerce is fast evolving, while increasingly, reshaping consumer behaviors. This global phenomenon will only accelerate in this part of the world. In the current connected marketplace, in order to stay relevant to consumers’ lifestyles and shopping occasions, manufacturers and retailers should continue innovating their business models and digitizing their marketing efforts to incorporate various digital tools for activation,” said Arslan Ashraf, Managing Director, Nielsen Arabian Peninsula and Pakistan. “The way forward is to blend the best of both online and offline channels to connect better with the shoppers. Physical store is a good avenue to advertise and promote the online stores especially for consumer electronics and fashion products, while digital channels can be useful in augmenting information on variety of the product lines, offers and promotions.” — SG