The e-groceries market is currently worth $200 million in the GCC and Egypt, accounting for less than 1 per cent of the e-commerce space and so there is room for rapid growth.
While 58 per cent of consumers in the region still prefer to do their weekly shop instore at large supermarkets, a growing number, about 30 per cent, are taking advantage of the benefits of ordering their groceries through a mobile application or website.
The UAE is the country most comfortable with online food delivery, accounting for 4.81 per cent of the grocery market.
Consumers are spending close to $17 billion on food every year in the UAE, a substantial amount for a population that sits below 10 million. Saudi Arabia's 33 million spend $54 billion while Egypt's 98 million-strong population leads the way with $56 billion.
Saudi Arabia's population is one of the world's most connected, with 91 per cent using the internet and a smartphone penetration rate of 73 per cent.
Online sales to Saudi Arabia were estimated at $8.7 billion in 2017 and projected to grow to $13.9 billion by 2020. The major barrier to domestic e-commerce adoption is cash on delivery.
Unemployment among Saudi nationals is around 12.8 per cent, but youth, who comprise about half of the population of 32 million face a more difficult challenge. Unemployment for those aged 20 to 29, stands at 29 per cent.
The total funds available for SMEs – directly or indirectly to tech entrepreneurs – are valued at $3.3 billion, yet, actual investments going into Saudi tech startups are concentrated on the seed stage and deal flows are moderate.