There was a surge in demand for e-commerce during 2020, as lockdown measures forced physical stores to close for an extended period and consumers spent more time at home. Consumer electronics remains the leader in e-commerce in terms of retail value sales, ahead of apparel and footwear, but FMCG – food and drink, home care and pet care – and consumer health saw the most rapid rates of growth in e-commerce retail value sales during 2020, as normal shopping habits were upended by the pandemic.
Saudi Arabia’s e-commerce infrastructure continues to evolve, with players focusing on faster delivery and reducing the delivery costs. During 2020, Souq became Amazon.
Social media are hugely popular in Saudi Arabia, with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram ranking among the ten most visited websites in the country. All major retailers, in addition to many independent operators, use these platforms for marketing.
By the end of 2020, the country’s 5G network covered 51 cities and provinces. A study conducted in mid-2020 by independent mobile analytics company Opensignal found that the Saudi 5G network was the fastest in the world in terms of average download speed, well ahead of second-placed South Korea.
As a result of the pandemic, Saudi consumers have become increasingly comfortable making in-person payments and transactions using payment cards and, to a lesser extent, smartphones, as well as e-wallets, at the point of sale. The rate of growth has been phenomenal – from 97 million contactless transactions in 2019 to 266 million during 2020.
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