Study shows E-Commerce and Digital Payments to Boom in middle east in 2021

A recent study by has indicated that e-commerce and digital payment industries in the Middle East Countries will significantly rise in 2021. The report says that 50% of the consumers will increase their online shopping in the next year. There will also be a shift towards digital payments as this region’s online shoppers now prefer digital payments over payment options such as cash on delivery. The boom in e-commerce will mostly come from online shopping, especially women fashion.

Preference for online shopping to stay

The report is based on the findings of a regional survey. This extensive survey polled 5,000 plus consumers in September 2020 from UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Pakistan. According to the report, 47% of consumers say they will shop online more frequently in the next year, while 15% think their online shopping will decrease. The remaining 38% believe it to be the same as now.

Sebastian Reis, EVP of Global E-commerce at, admitted that the sudden increase in the e-commerce industry in 2020 is due to Covid-19. Still, he believes what we see today is more than a temporary change in consumer behavior. He noted that their internal data showed an 86% increase in their platform’s digital payment transactions since the start of the pandemic in the region.

Reis feels this situation offers a significant opportunity for businesses across the gulf region. At the same time, he is quick to note that businesses will need to give the best online shopping experience and include payment processes that are safe, secure, and convenient for consumers to leverage this shift in consumer behavior and excel in this highly competitive space. 

There has been a steady increase in online shopping for women’s clothing in recent times. The pandemic has boosted this increase and has brought more customers to online apparel stores. In the clothing industry, hijabs, abayas, and scarfs have seen a surge in demand, and this increased surge is expected to last beyond the pandemic. The reason being, for example, when shopping for abaya, customers have realized purchasing from an online abaya shop is more comfortable and hassle-free than a physical shop. The customer service, payment processes, and ease of purchase offered at online abaya shops are enough to bring the shoppers back.

The boom in E-commerce in Covid-19

The report reveals that consumers have accepted e-commerce as 90% of customers said they shop online, and 44% admitted they do it on a monthly basis. The reports believe Covid-19 is fueling a significant chunk of the current e-commerce as 40% of online shoppers noted they buy online because of the pandemic.

The pandemic has contributed to the increase in online purchases of prepared meals (41% report increased online purchasing frequency since Covid-19), clothing (37%), groceries (33%), and electronics (30%). Moreover, men seem to be fostering most of the e-commerce surge in electronics while women account for a more substantial increase in online clothing purchases.

Scaling digital payment platforms crucial for merchants: Reis

Reis also focused on the payment aspect of online shopping. He explained that robust digital payment options are becoming the core of consumer expectations from merchants. The Vice-President of Global E-commerce at noted that as consumers continue to shop online, they tend to pay by a card or digital wallets instead of cash on delivery. Hence he feels scaling digital payment platforms is a massive opportunity for merchants of all sizes to stay in step with consumer preferences and build loyalty with their customers.