Middle East eCommerce: The Expanding Market with Massive Purchase Potential

The digital transformation of the region is nothing less than an Arabian knight tale. The expanding landscape and diverse eCommerce ecosystem are all set to lead the global eCommerce world. Countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain are the key markets that make up the core of the region.  

But what does it take to be a hero in this expanding e-commerce landscape?  

In simple terms – Know your competitor, stay on top of the market dynamics & trends, and tap the pulse of Middle Eastern shoppers.  

As the story unfolds it requires a deeper understanding of the Middle East e-commerce landscape. So, let’s dive deeper to understand how business can drive brands in this digital ecosystem.  

Middle East eCommerce – Explore, Identify and Don’t miss out on opportunities

The Middle East region holds a special position in the global eCommerce ecosystem with rapid advancement in technology, the adoption rate of eCommerce, evolving and maturing consumer behavior, and internet penetration beyond tier-1 cities in the region leading market expansion and economic growth.  

Digital Expansion

Post-pandemic the global eCommerce market has experienced growth beyond traditional retail channels driven by an expanding number of digital shoppers. The global market is expected to touch USD 6.35 trillion by 2027*. The proliferation of smartphones, high-speed internet connectivity, and the convenience of online shopping are the key contributors to the global eCommerce upswing.  

The region has risen above the challenges like the limited payment options with the adoption of swift payment options like direct carrier billing. The lack of trust in online retailers, and a preference for in-store shopping were also key challenges but the rise of online purchases and quality services by global brands has built brand trust across platforms in the Middle East digital ecosystem. Such improvement in infrastructure propels digital expansion.  

According to the Mordor Intelligence report, the size of the MENA region’s ecommerce market will almost double by 2028 compared to 2023. The expected CAGR is 11.5%, and with the MENA countries’ combined GDP of US$3.9 trillion, the region shows potential for fast growth in the ecommerce market.

Evolving Consumer Behavior  

The Middle East has taken center stage in the global eCommerce market with massive room for expansion as several countries in the region and tier-2 cities of the most active countries are exploring the prospects of online shopping with higher access to technology and internet penetration. The support from the governments is helping the region overcome major challenges like lack of trust in online retailers, preference for in-store shopping, and limited payment options.  

A notable shift in consumer has triggered post-pandemic as shoppers turned to e-commerce platforms for daily needs, electronics, and other essential goods. Convenience, product choices, and competitive marketplaces have opened new opportunities for shoppers. The market presents exciting opportunities for international brands venturing into the market along with opportunities to target expatriate populations with brands they are familiar with. The Middle Eastern young and tech-savvy population presents a vast consumer base for e-commerce expansion. 

The young and tech-savvy shopping population with rising disposable income is making up a large consumer base and the market is expected to touch base with USD 50 billion by 2025. * 

*Source: Deloitte | A Middle East Point of View – Summer 2023

Not just the Middle East but the entire MENA region is experiencing a massive surge in e-commerce across categories. The key drivers of this growth are rising internet penetration, rising consumer demand for value and convenience, and extensive reach of e-commerce and quick commerce intelligence platforms. 

The region under the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and MENA countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and African countries has grown exponentially post-pandemic.  

Platform Revenue
Amazon.ae US$520.1m 
Trendyol US$3,215.7m
Ounass.ae US$15.3m 
Noon US$251.7m 
Amazon.sa US$126.1m 
Souq.com US$82.4m 
Basharacare.com US$6.6m
Mumzworld US$67.5m 

Fig 01: The top revenue-generating eCommerce platforms in the Middle East region |Source: Vitro Commerce (This will be illustrated as a chart)  

Middle East eCommerce Trends

Growth Across Categories

The shopping patterns across eCommerce platforms are different across digital ecosystems same stands for the Middle East but the core difference is the purchase potential and inclination towards online shopping.  

A Blend of local brands and global names

Even the biggest name in the retail market sells their product with local packaging using local language and push variants that cater to the local Flavors and cultural preferences.  

Adoption of Digital Payments

Digital payments are one of the core challenges in the Middle East region. The rise of Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) for swift transactions along with mobile wallets is building a payment ecosystem that encourages online hopping with integration on various marketplaces.  

Focus on enhancing customer experience

The need for convenience is the utmost need of the shoppers. With the rise of value-first shoppers across digital ecosystems, brands focus on providing seamless customer journeys.  

Rise of Quick Commerce

The expansion of the digital ecosystem demands swift delivery. The same-day delivery need has led to the rise of Quick commerce intelligence platforms in the Middle East region.  

eCommerce Future in Middle East

The future of e-commerce heavily relies on well-connected, digitally savvy audiences. And the MENA region has it all! Retail penetration in the region is now around 11–12% and keeps growing. Over 80% of buyers use mobile devices, and 70% of them use social media to reach the seller.  

eCommerce in the Middle East statistics and trends show that Internet penetration is close to 100%, and 80% of users already buy through the internet. This is a great target audience of potential buyers for new sellers. In general, 85% of all buyers are tech-savvy and accept paying digitally.  

The population’s growing buying capabilities and the building of new e-commerce initiatives by governments suggest the MENA region has a promising and thriving e-commerce future ahead of it. This makes it perfect for those who are looking for a place to start their e-commerce business.  

Final thoughts

The opportunities in the MENA region are unmatched. The wide variation in product categories and high purchase potential are the key to edging ahead in the area. The local players, the well-known brands are swiftly turning from shopping stores to digital shelves, while international players are making their space among the vast landscape of the MENA region. The Middle East is running high on tech-savvy shoppers while the North African region is joining the e-commerce wave with improving infrastructure and internet penetration. To stand tall in this competitive market, brands must build business intelligence across platforms and competition. The data-driven approach with insights guiding cross-department functions can help brand propel in the digital commerce ecosystem. With mScanIt, e-commerce intelligence suits brands can monitor and optimize their brand’s performance across the e-commerce landscape. Join on the journey of growth in the Middle East with digital commerce intelligence and build the success story for your brand in the region.  

Note: The article is more about countries in the Gulf region as they have more e-commerce penetration. The countries located further North (besides Jordan) have not emerged in the market yet. Even Lebanon, a very developed country, has no e-commerce. 

Contact our experts at email id – Contact@mfilterit.com


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