Bahrain’s online sales hit $175m
Manama, November 21, 2011
Online consumer sales in Bahrain exceeded BD66.15 million ($175 million) last year, according to a new report.
This follows an impressive 800 percent increase in internet users since 2000, meaning 55 out of every 100 Bahrainis are now online, stated the report by Visa and Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) International.
Bahrain has some of the highest internet usage levels among Arab countries and, with further penetration of mobile internet expected, this figure is set to double in the next three years, it added.
The new quarterly overview of the burgeoning e-commerce market across the GCC is part of Visa's ongoing drive to build e-commerce in the region.
It identifies current levels of e-commerce performance and potential by assessing the breadth of existing research undertaken in the region. The report also covers trends, data and forecasts in the GCC as part of a world-class comparison to key markets.
It recognises that Bahrain's government is leading the way for e-commerce in the country with the introduction of a dedicated Central Informatics Organisation (CIO).
This endorsement, stated the report, was significant because it encouraged further internet usage and consequently online shopping.
It has helped catapult Bahrain to 30th place in the World Economic Forum's respected Network Readiness Index 2010-2011, it added.
'E-commerce is without doubt one of the crucial drivers for the world economy, and increasingly the region's,' said Visa Middle East general manager Kamran Siddiqi.
'With such a significant increase in internet usage, it's no surprise that it is quickly becoming the cornerstone for business and communication, especially as Bahrain is such an important financial hub. However, there's still some way to go if e-commerce in Bahrain and the wider region is to meet its full potential,” he said.
Meanwhile, e-commerce sales in the GCC are estimated to have grown to around $3 billion (BD1.134 billion) to $3.5 billion (BD1.32 billion) and expected to reach $5 billion (BD1.89 billion) by the end of 2011.
The UAE takes the biggest share with an estimated $1.9 billion (BD718 million) (approx 55 percent to 60 percent), followed by Saudi Arabia with an estimated $520 million (BD196.5 million).
'Online shopping is still in its infancy in the region but all signs are there that it will continue to grow, such as government commitment, retailer investment and most importantly a young population open to trying new technologies and innovations,' said Visa Middle East e-commerce business leader Stephen Leeds.
'However, we're still faced with the same barriers here that we see around the world, with lack of trust and payment security regularly being cited as key concerns for people when choosing whether to shop online,” Leeds said.
'As one of the world's largest retail electronic payments networks, Visa supports the e-commerce industry in Bahrain by providing payment systems, which are trusted across the globe, helping to drive growth by giving cardholders reassurance and confidence when purchasing online,' he added.
IMRG International international and research head Aad Weening said it was clear that there was huge potential for e-commerce to grow further.
He said it was vital that more becomes known about all aspects of online shopping in terms of data, impact of the internet economy, consumer behaviour and attitude.
The aim is not only to demonstrate business opportunities for international investors but also initiatives to set up domestic sites, said Weening.
It will increase the available offer and inspire trust and confidence among consumers, he added.
Visa will make the report available to businesses and the government to help them understand the significant trends in the region and plan their e-commerce strategies.
Internet usage in the region has grown by a staggering 1500 percent since 2000, from a mere 1.2 million in 2000 to a massive 18.7 million in 2010, according to the report. – TradeArabia News Service