The novel coronavirus outbreak is pushing many Arabs to buy their groceries online, a trend that could have a long-term effect on the industry even after COVID-19 wears out.
One retailer who revealed this statement to be true is Saudi Arabia's BinDawood Holding, founded in 1984. The company has witnessed a 200-percent spike in its online sales since the escalation of COVID-19 in the kingdom.
BinDawood Holding has two e-commerce platforms under its umbrella - Danube supermarket and BinDawood Online – both of which have recorded a "significant upturn in organic growth the last few weeks," Majed M. Al Tahan, co-founder & MD, Danube Online, told Arabian Business.
"Our average sales on a 10-day basis has shot up 200 percent, with our average order value up 50 percent and our app installations topping 400 percent," he added.
This spike in online orders happened despite the fact that all of BinDawood Holding stores remain open in Saudi Arabia. This comes to show people's preferred method of supermarket buying during this period. The company has, however, applied stringent sanitization measures inside its stores to protect both customers and staff, the CEO explained to Arabian Business, to ensure safety for those who prefer traditional grocery shopping.
The increase in online orders doesn't come as a surprise as many food delivery apps around the world have seen a spike in downloads since the novel coronavirus locked people in their homes. In the Arab region, many are resorting to online deliveries for meals and groceries among other things. This is particularly true in Saudi Arabia, where curfews have been imposed on residents starting 3 p.m. in a bid to enforce social distancing and minimal movement.
Saudi Arabia, at the time of writing, has a total of 1,012 coronavirus cases.
Another e-commerce platform in the kingdom that witnessed a major spike in demand during this period is Nana Direct. Following the spike in demand amid the global pandemic, the startup increased its capacity threefold to be able to serve its customers. The company plans to expand it even more so now with the curfew being imposed in Saudi Arabia.
The app was even able to raise a total of $18 million in Series B funding from investors to expand across the Middle East as lockdown measures have forced people to adapt to a new way of life, one that is heavily reliant on technology.
This trend of online grocery shopping and food delivery is not limited to Saudi Arabia. Fully owned UAE Carrefour is another retailer that has witnessed a 59-percent in new customers on its online platform as a result of the global pandemic.
It seems this "trend" is going to become the new normal in a post-COVID-19 world.