E-commerce sales rise 51% in Ramadan – study

Criteo data says internet shopping, travel bookings soared during last year’s Holy Month

Consumer internet activity in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is expected to rise sharply during Ramadan, newly released data from 2016 suggests.

Technology marketing firm Criteo analysed a million transactions from more than 100 retail and travel advertisers based in the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia across desktop, smartphones and tablets from two weeks before last year’s Ramadan, throughout the holy month.

In findings revealed exclusively to Arabian Business, Criteo claimed that online traffic, including browsing and buying activity,     in 2016 increased in the lead-up to and during Ramadan, but declined slightly during Eid Al-Fitr, the religious holiday that marks the end of the festive season.

Online retail sales increased by 18 percent two weeks before Ramadan and peaked at a 66 percent rise in the third week of the month compared to volumes just before the fortnight run-up to the Holy Month began. This marked a 51 percent average increase over the period, Criteo said.

Internet travel bookings, on the other hand, grew incrementally in the last two weeks of Ramadan, from a 13 percent rise to a peak of a 42 percent rise in the subsequent two weeks post-Eid.

Mobile retail purchases peaked in the two weeks leading up to Ramadan, at 17 percent, while mobile travel bookings grew steadily during Ramadan, rising by 27 percent through Eid and remaining high over the week afterward.

Criteo’s data also revealed that Ramadan traditions influence shoppers’ behaviour throughout the day. More than a third — 36% of retail sales and 35% of travel bookings — happened between 9pm and 5am over the Ramadan period, it found.

Criteo’s report said: “To engage with shoppers, retailers need to know when they are most active online. Compared with the period prior to Ramadan where e-commerce transactions amounted to 73 percent during the day, transactions during Ramadan dropped to 64 percent.

“However, Criteo measured an increase in e-commerce sales to 36 percent in the evening once consumers have broken their fast – an increase from 27 percent during the evening in the pre-Ramadan period.

“This represents a timely  opportunity for retailers to reach out to shoppers,” the report said.

Dirk Henke, managing director – emerging markets, at Nasdaq-listed Criteo, said: “Ramadan is a cherished tradition in this region, and has an observable effect on the purchasing habits and online activity of shoppers.

“Retailers and travel providers need to accommodate the changes that take place in the lifestyles of millions of people across the region in order to effectively engage shoppers across all touchpoints.

“Picking the right time of the week as well as the time of the day will be essential to optimising digital marketing efforts to deliver impactful content at every stage in the customer journey.”

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