Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting and gift giving that is celebrated widely around the globe by Muslims. Amazon.com Inc., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and other online retailers are competing more fiercely to gain a foothold in the Arab world.
As Ramadan is celebrated widely by giving gifts to each other, many shop-keepers or retailers offered multiple mind-blowing deals and discounts on almost everything. Be it a car or a washing machine or simply even an iron or batteries. The purchase made during this time of year is huge. But it was not seemed huge in terms of online shopping. This year, many people have decided to shop online and get their products delivered to them on time.
Ramadan gifts that were mainly stuck to the traditional Arab markets and the Persian Gulf’s glitzy malls, is now competing with online markets. Online retail lagged behind, but that has begun to change this Ramadan, which started May 5 and is scheduled to end Tuesday. Online sales in the Middle East and Africa have doubled so far during Ramadan this year when compared with a similar time frame two months before the holiday, said Michele Iozzo, managing director of Middle East and Africa at Criteo , an online advertising platform that tracks data. In 2018, sales went up during Ramadan by 98% compared with the baseline in the preceding period, while in 2017 this figure was 70%, he said.
“We’ve seen significant increase in Ramadan sales, especially in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Morocco,” said Matt Zhang, head of Middle East operations at AliExpress, the retail arm of Alibaba Group.
Both online retailing giants, Amazon and Alibaba had begun preparing for Ramadan 2 months ago. They held up campaigns and took their advertising and marketing promptly and more seriously. They made large investments in Arab region and ensured their facilities all over the place.
Amazon entered the region in March 2017 with the acquisition of local player Souq.com for $580 million. Just before Ramadan began this year, Amazon launched its first branded Arabic-language site in the United Arab Emirates. In recent days, Amazon’s U.A.E. site has switched to a theme around Eid al-Fitr, the holiday of feasts and giving at the end of Ramadan.
Last August, AliExpress upgraded its service to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure better and more rapid deliveries. A number of local online retailers also have emerged, creating a new battleground for market share. Among them are Noon.com, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund and launched by Emirati billionaire Mohamed Alabbar.