With the Internet transforming many aspects of life, it has also brought along opportunities to shop for goods and services online. Online shopping allows one to choose from the wide variety of goods that are available on the internet, which range from fashion, to gadgets, clothes, books and other household items. Women in the Middle East see online shopping as a great way to save time, and consider it as a source of entertainment and relaxation.
One of the online shopping websites used by women of United Arab Emirates is Cobone.com, a group discount website. “The best thing is the price value. I have been using since a year now, and I do not have to go anywhere. It is just a click away, and the voucher is at my door step”, stated Sandra Gomes, a Customer Service Officer at Al Futtaim. ” Salwa Ahmed, a graduate student and now a Property Coordinator told that, “It has been 2 years since I use Cobone. The only reason I shop from there is because of good offers and for genuine quality products.”
Another online shopping website that is highly preferred by United Arab Emirates women is Sukar.com. Khazeena Ali, a housewife, prefers shopping from Sukar.com because she does not want to spend more time looking for a parking in the streets of Dubai. She told that “We are fed up of looking for a parking for more than an hour, and then roam around to shop in Meena Bazaar or Bur Dubai, so I prefer to see what is available online, and purchase from there. I have purchased bed sheets, watches, cell phones, and a lot more through online shopping.” Sukar.com is a part of Souq.com, which is the largest e-commerce site in the Arab world. Sareena Ahmed, who works as a Marketing Executive at a recruiting agency, started using Souq.com recently, and she says that “While I was browsing, I came across this website and found really good stuff. I like that there is so much of variety, and there are always special offers.” Salwa Ahmed added that “If I ever had any problem with the seller of the product, the website provided a good way of communication between the buyer and seller, and the response is prompt.”
This also shows the reason why some of these e-Commerce websites are able to attract foreign investments.
Groupon.ae is another group discount website that was launched in 2010. Iman Salman, an Immigration Consultant at Move One, and a housewife, uses Groupon.ae because they have got nice offers. “I have been using it for a year now.” She also brought many items for her friends through other group discount websites, some of them being “Pendant with engraved names, package for saloon, para sailing coupons.”
According to the Global Trends in Online Shopping – A Nielsen Global Consumer Report – generated in June, 2010, confirmed that 40% of the Middle East shoppers behaved as critical audiences when doing online shopping. While shopping, they benefitted by reading other’s review about the product, and their reviews were the most important to consider when talking about online shopping.
Even though online shopping has made it easy for women to purchase items, the feel of stopping by a store to touch and see products is still preferred by many women like Sareena Ahmed. “Online shopping is not exactly my comfort zone. I would still rely on malls because the product is right in front of me. But for mobiles and gadgets, it is really reliable because you know if the product is not worth you, you can always return it. There is a cash on delivery, so no threat of misused credit card details, and the customer service is really helpful.” May be some of these websites should consider having a retail store.
The October, 2012 statistics generated by Statista, a leading statistics company on the internet, stated the number of hours spent by female Internet users worldwide on retail sites were the highest among the age group 25-34 years old, which spent 88 minutes on retail sites in a month. However, not all women are happy with the response they get from online shopping websites. While some may have benefited with great responses, it is Fatima Nasar, a student, who mentioned that “It was the first time I used Cobone.com to purchase something, and I was not impressed. It could have been the delivery guy’s fault. He might as well have been on the wrong door number and just given it.”
Injeel Firoz Moti, a student at Middlesex University, came across highly-priced products while using Namshi.com. She stated that “Namshi is very over-priced. The only advantage is that they deliver nice and quick, and they have a full refund policy, which is cool.” Another issue that many women faced with online shopping was the use of credit cards. Iman Salman told that “The bad point is that you need to have a credit card to shop online. I purchased cash on delivery, and they charged extra for the delivery.” In addition, Fatima Nasar also said “I only used it once, and since I do not use a credit card, I wanted the cash on delivery option, but that was not available for the item I wanted.”