IKEA introduces online shopping as it begins second year in Qatar

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Yassan Yukky / Flickr

Swedish furniture giant IKEA is rolling out an online shopping option in Qatar, a year after it opened its first long-awaited outlet in the country.

Fans of the store – which has apparently received over 1.4 million visitors over the past year – will now be able to access a limited section of the shop’s complete range via the company’s Qatar website.

So far, 1,800 furniture products from the Living Room, Bedroom and Bathroom sections have been made available for online shopping (IKEA’s total in-store inventory is about 12,000 items).

Purchases must be made using a credit card, and orders below QR 2,500 will incur a delivery charge.

Although online shopping was not originally part of the retailer’s profile, preferring instead to focus on the “experience” customers were getting at its stores, IKEA has gradually introduced e-commerce in many countries in recent years, including the USA, Australia and much of Europe.

Regionally, it already offers the service in the UAE, but not in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait.

John Kersten, Managing Director of IKEA in Qatar, the UAE, Egypt & Oman, said in a statement:

“We have had a great year and have been overwhelmed at the warm reception received from our customers here.

The launch of our online shopping function is a testimony to our commitment to continuously improve the IKEA experience. As we begin our second year in Qatar, we hope to keep reinventing ourselves and the experience we offer our customers.”

Debit card woes

It is unclear how popular the sales will be. Though Qatar residents rely heavily on the internet for news, online transactions are not common here.

That’s according to a broad media survey conducted by Northwestern University in Qatar last year, which found that only 3 percent of Qatar residents surveyed buy things online.

More than a third of those questioned said this was because they were concerned about the security of their credit card information, while 21 percent said they did not have a bank card to use online.

Additionally, Qatar has begun enforcing restrictions on the use of debit cards online here. Last December, several Doha residents reported no longer being able to use their debit cards for internet purchases.

Now, only credit cards can be used amid efforts by the country’s central bank to crack down on fraud. And debit cards have been restricted transactions where the customer must enter a PIN to authorize the purchase.

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