Browsing 'shopping' News

Photo for illustrative purposes only

Doha Sooq

Photo for illustrative purposes only

Hoping to save residents the headache of battling traffic, navigating a busy grocery store and juggling multiple shopping bags at once, a new online supermarket and home delivery service has launched in Qatar.

E-commerce site Doha Sooq has teamed up with grocery chain Grand Mart to launch the website, which debuted last month.

In a statement, Mohamed Intiqab Rawoof, manager of the IT group of Grand Mart, said:

“People always shop. It doesn’t stop. We are here to make their experience better and the online supermarket is designed and implemented to provide a seamless shopping experience.

People are changing their buying habits. From retail stores to online shopping carts, it’s only a matter of time before the online shopping store becomes a popular option among consumers in Qatar.”

Items for sale includes fashion, jewelry, gifts and electronics in addition to fresh and packaged food.

Doha Sooq now sells 4,000 items, 475 of which are food goods.

This is set to more than double with 2,500 separate food lines in the coming month, a website official told Doha News.

The new site will join a number of other online grocery ordering services that have launched in Qatar in recent years, including eGrab, which started as an app last August, and FreshQatar, which provides online shopping and delivery to select areas inside Doha, although with a minimum order of QR100.

There is also the app Baqaala, currently available on Android, where customers can order groceries from local mini-markets or supermarkets, and get them delivered to their home in 30 minutes, its website says.

How it works

With Doha Sooq, customers can register their details, then get shopping.

The orders are compiled by Grand Mart staff, who check to ensure that all products have valid expiry dates and are of good quality, Hussain Mohammed Hasan, E-commerce specialist at Doha Sooq, said.

Speaking to Doha News, he added:

“We are adding new products daily to the site. By one month’s time, we will have 10,000 products for sale.

Grand Mart staff will check every order before it goes out, and all deliveries will be made in their refrigerated vans.”

The online system should highlight stock levels. If an item turns out to be out of stock after ordering, Grand Mart staff would call the customer to ask if they would like an alternative item or a refund.

Customers can pay by credit or debit card online. A cash-on-delivery option is planned to launch “soon.” For the launch period, customers can get a 2.5 percent discount on their total bill, Hasan said.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Tim Reckmann/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

At check-out, shoppers can also choose their preferred delivery slot. Orders worth more than QR50 have free delivery, while those less than that have a QR15 delivery charge.

The site organizers aim for same-day delivery – with a four-hour target from ordering, although orders made after 8pm will be delivered the following morning.

“This is for customers’ convenience, and to give Grand Mart greater visibility in the market. In our research, everyone told us about problems with traffic, with parking. Shopping online is much more convenience and easier,” Hasan added.

Slow take-up

While already very popular in some countries, online shopping – especially for food – has yet to really take off in Qatar.

A number of supermarkets have been talking about launching such services in Qatar, but this has yet to take place.

Lulu has online shopping and delivery in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but Qatar-based customers can’t use its website for home delivery yet.

Instead, they can order and pay online, and collect the food order at Lulu Express in Education City.

Speaking to Doha News, a representative for the hypermarket chain said they hoped to launch a full online food ordering and delivery service in Qatar “soon.”

Other supermarkets, such as Spinneys and Geant, have online food shopping systems for other countries in the Middle East, but not yet in Qatar.

Would you use an online food shopping and delivery service? Thoughts?

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Osarieme Eweka/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Wealthy Qatar residents spent an average of US$4,000 a month on luxury goods and experiences last year – twice that of their regional peers, according to results of a new survey of spending habits in the Middle East.

Falling oil prices and government belt-tightening inside of Qatar have led to hundreds of job losses here, but hasn’t stopped more affluent citizens and residents from enjoying the finer things in life, American Express Middle East said.

That said, a quarter of people surveyed within Qatar confirmed they did cut back on spending last year.

Qatar’s average spend on high-end items and services was the most out of the five Gulf countries (UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain) surveyed for the latest edition of the company’s Spending Survey.

Spending jumps

The report was carried out by Germany-based market researchers GfK, and Saudi Arabia was not included.

Qatar residents spent around 12 percent of their average household monthly income on luxury goods and services last year. The $4,000 figure is considerably higher than the $2,500 spent each month in 2014, Bloomberg reported.

Across the region, a total of 430 residents and citizens who had annual household incomes of $75,000 or more took part in the survey, which was conducted between November and December 2015.

All had been residents of their respective Gulf countries for at least one year.

Some 41 percent of households surveyed spent between $1,001 and $5,000 a month on luxuries, while just under a third spent more than $5,000 monthly on such items/services.

Just one percent said they spent less than $250 each month on nice-to-haves, Gulf Times reported.

Mazin Khoury, Chief Executive Officer, American Express Middle East said only around a quarter of people in Qatar reduced spending last year.

“Around 76 percent of the respondents from Qatar did not cut back spending in 2015. They spent more than planned or the same amount while just 24 percent cut back their spending,” the Peninsula reported him as saying.

Changing habits

However, some habits have changed. Around one quarter (26 percent) of people in Qatar said they spent less on eating out last year, while nearly three-quarters (72 percent) said they spent more on food and drink at home.

Residents in other Gulf states appeared to be more frugal, as 41 percent of those in Oman cut back spending on socializing, while more than half (55 percent) of people in Kuwait did the same last year.

Looking forward, many Qatar residents said that while they don’t plan to spend less overall, they are expecting to change up their purchases.

For illustrative purposes only

Westin Doha Hotel & Spa

For illustrative purposes only

Around one quarter (24 percent) said they would spend more on personal wellness at the expense of dining out, while 42 percent said they would spend less on savings and pensions, Gulf Times added, quoting Khoury.

Spending on experiences, such as holidays, spa visits, eating out, hobbies and sports is still favored over buying tangible items such as jewelry, watches, clothes, cars and electronics.

Just over half (53 percent) of those surveyed said they would be spending their extra income on experiences, while 47 percent said they would like to buy goods, in line with trends across the region.

This is down from 2014, when 70 percent of those polled in Qatar in the same survey said they would opt for high-end experiences over buying “stuff.”

Rising cost of living

The survey results come as official statistics show that Qatar is an increasingly expensive place for living.

Consumer prices in February were up more than 3 percent on the same month last year, primarily driven by a 9 percent jump in the cost of recreation and cultural activities since February 2014.

Meanwhile, residential rental rates continue to rise, despite an increase in vacancies.

Do you plan to spend less this year? Thoughts?

All photos by Ray Toh

An eclectic array of clothes, toys, accessories, food, oud and other items are up for sale at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center (DECC) near City Center Mall this week.

The World Heritage Exhibition 2016 is a trade show that has attracted some 355 exhibitors from different countries, and runs through April 19.

Vendors could be seen hawking tea sets, carpets, dates, honey, nuts, abayas, thobes, nail polish and a variety of other goods yesterday.

World Heritage Exhibition 2016

Ray Toh / Doha News

World Heritage Exhibition 2016

Performers could be seen dancing and singing to a fairly empty audience on Thursday evening, though attendance will likely go up now that it’s the weekend.

Vendors appeared willing to bargain, but prices were fairly high compared to grocery store items.

The trade show is open from 11am to 10pm daily and from 3pm to 11pm on Fridays. For those interested in checking out the activity area with entertainment and traditional musical shows, they run daily from 3pm to 9pm.

Have you checked it out? Thoughts?