As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to spur e-commerce, a Mastercard study has revealed the rapid growth of online shopping, with nearly three out of four Saudi consumers shopping more online than they did before the pandemic.
The study provides significant insights into how shoppers are rapidly moving away from cash and opting for contact-free and digital payment experiences. These insights are helping e-retailers and businesses in Saudi and across the region, to leverage the shift towards online shopping and to deliver fast, convenient and secure transactions.
Surge in Spending Across Sectors
According to the survey, groceries, healthcare, apparel and banking have seen the highest surge of online activity.
More than 68% of Saudi consumers said they had shopped online for groceries, 73% for clothing, and over 65% of respondents said they had purchased medicine online. And, as e-commerce increasingly becomes a part of everyday life, consumers are moving other aspects of their financial management to digital, with 64% of respondents having started banking online.
The research also reveals the rising impact of social media on consumer spending habits, with 58% and 61% of respondents saying they had discovered new sellers through Facebook and Instagram respectively.
Mastercard has been working with businesses, financial institutions and other stakeholders to advance digital payments in the Kingdom, and the pandemic has reinforced the necessity to continue evolving the safe and secure consumer payment experience. From a simplified online checkout experience to an in-store tap on a contactless terminal, it is evident that being able to respond to the rapidly evolving consumer expectations is a critical priority.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia enjoys one the highest internet penetration and mobile usage numbers in the region with an estimated growth to 96% by 2023. The Saudi government in turn continues to take several measures to simplify digital payments and enable affordable e-commerce. With security remaining integral to the shift towards a cashless culture, Mastercard is working with local businesses to take advantage of these long-term trends, and build e-commerce experiences that offer speed, security and simplicity for a new generation of Saudi shoppers,” said J.K. Khalil, Country Manager, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain & Levant Mastercard.
The Rise of Virtual Experiences
While adapting to the ‘next normal’, people have been changing the way they consume entertainment and learn new skills.
In fact, 79% of KSA consumers said they were using the downtime as a positive learning experience. More than half of the respondents (64%) said they had taken a virtual cooking class, 47% have been mastering a new language and 26% have been learning to dance online.
45% of respondents have been educating themselves on Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects, and just over a third (37%) said they have been learning how to film online.
As people spend more time at home, the demand for online entertainment has also surged with 73% of respondents having invested in entertainment subscriptions and 62% in online gaming.
Securing New Shopping Habits
With the rapid rise in online shopping, consumers are also becoming increasingly aware of the associated risks. More than half of consumers (54%) surveyed said that a secure checkout was fundamental for a good shopping experience.
This is a key priority for Mastercard, as it is working to reduce online fraud and protect retailers from data breaches, while ensuring that consumers still enjoy a convenient and hassle-free payment experience.
To advance these efforts, Mastercard recently rolled out its patented tokenization technology across the region. Tokenization encrypts consumer data by replacing card numbers with digital tokens. This prevents improper usage at any other location and provides additional security and peace of mind for consumers and merchants alike, resulting in higher approval rates while minimizing online fraud.