>> Two powerful companies are squaring up to do battle for Saudi Arabian online shoppers. Noon.com launched in the UAE this month, and will enter the Saudi market within weeks. It comes to the fight, well-armed. Investors include Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund. That was Bocaraise with Dubai based souq.com, known as the Amazon of the middle east, even before there world's biggest online retailer bought it this year.
Online shopping is an untapped market lased with challenges, says Reuter's Katy Paul.>> Addresses aren't really used, and so delivery companies will have to call people up and ask them for landmarks. Asking for directions, or even ask them often times to send a Whatsapp of their location. So that's quite an inefficient way of going about delivery.
And then at the same time, many Saudi's prefer to pay in cash. And so that shifts the burden of risk fully onto the company, because they have to offer cash on delivery options. Which means their delivery guys are not being paid until the product actually arrives. And then are carrying around a lot of cash with them, which has it's own risks.
>> Less than 1% of sales are online in Saudi, even less than the middle eastern average. Shopping in malls is popular, strict social restrictions in the Islamic kingdom, means there isn't a lot else to do. Say both companies are pointing on a huge retail shift, and on being their first when it happens.
>> Both of these companies are betting on the fact that Saudi has of with a young population that's extremely tech savvy. So some of the biggest users of Twitter and Facebook, and the world. And they're betting that that millennial population in Saudi Arabia will take to, to e-commerce, even though it doesn't really exist there, so far.
>> Saudi Arabia is the Arab world's largest consumer market. With online sales expected to surge to $14 billion, from 8.7 billion this year, the newcomers have all to play for.