As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world and authorities imposed strict lockdowns, economic activities came to a grinding halt. Bars, restaurants, retail businesses, and transport services all had to close, and people were forced to stay indoors. This abruptly changed the business sector. Suddenly, there was a drastic change in consumer behavior, and new supply chains and delivery systems were emerging while e-commerce gained unprecedented momentum.
According to the data revealed by Google, the pandemic has significantly impacted the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with the transit and retail segments recording an average reduction of 60% and 53.2%, respectively. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) experienced a maximum mobility reduction of 42.33% as well, followed by Saudi Arabia at 38.5% and Oman at 37.8%.
On the other hand, the grocery and pharmacy segments were the least impacted. According to the Oxford Business Group, online grocery orders in the UAE increased by 80-100% over the first five months of 2020 due to COVID-19. Moreover, in late March, Saudi online retailer BinDawood Holding experienced a 200% increase in average sales on a 10-day basis since the outbreak of the virus.
With no vaccine in sight and infections on the rise, more and more consumers are ordering essential goods like food, groceries, and medicines online. This has left companies with no option but to augment their online presence and strengthen their delivery services to taper off the mounting losses caused by prolonged closures. Customers now expect retailers to sell all their products online and deliver packages right to their homes as well. A subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Airports, Abu Dhabi Airports Duty-Free, has been quick to seize the opportunity by launching a new home delivery service, allowing residents across the UAE to buy Abu Dhabi Duty-Free products online. Consumers can now choose from an expansive selection of items and have them delivered straight to their door.
There is no denying the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has put many businesses at risk, but at the same time, it has also presented a new economic environment. Innovative delivery solutions in sync with changing consumer behavior are now the “new normal,” and companies can bring things back on track quicker only if they adopt this new trend and listen to the customers’ demands.
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