Whether it’s chasing the latest deal on Jumia or hunting down the hottest new threads, the Middle East is no stranger to online shopping. According to the McKinsey Institute, the MEA region was traditionally a bit slower to adopt e-commerce than other regions, arguably thanks to our pervasive cash is king mentality, but a confluence of factors have seen that distinction change in recent years.
Plus, in 2020, prompted by the pandemic, plenty of ME businesses that previously had no method of taking payments online, changed things up and started offering digital transactions. Additionally, e-commerce giants around the world are taking an increased interest in our platforms, as evidenced by Amazon’s 2017’s purchase of Souq.com.
Heck, we’ve even got digital solutions that prevent standing in line at the bank — thanks Dor-e, we love you!
Suffice to say, we’re heading in a digital direction and online shopping and services are on the make. Are you ready to join the digital revolution and spank your credit card online? If so, do it with style, and make the most of all the bargains you can find.
Here are Scoop’s top tips for savvy online shopping:
Avoid dynamic pricing
Online retailers use dynamic pricing based on a customer’s location, to ensure they get the optimal price for their goods or services. If you’re booking a flight from Jeddah to Sharm el-Sheikh, for example, the price displayed is likely to be different if you’re browsing on a Saudi wifi network than it would be on an Egyptian network.
This is because online sites can automatically detect your IP address, a unique digital address that signifies your device’s physical location. These sites then adjust prices accordingly.
To disrupt this process and take advantage of cheaper, location-specific deals, connect to a VPN and choose the server in a country where the price is going to be cheaper. Let’s return to flights as an example. If you’re booking an EgyptAir flight, you’re better off connecting to an Egyptian server than you are to a server in the UK.
As an added bonus, that same VPN will encrypt your traffic, and keep your financial deets safe online.
Honey = More money saved
There are some clever browser extensions out there, and we’re in love with Honey, a free plug-in that automatically finds you coupon codes and applies these to your basket. You don’t need to copy and paste, or search the web for codes, because Honey does all this stuff for you. Deals aplenty and no effort involved, it’s a win-win in our opinion.
Unfortunately, many websites and retailers that are new to e-commerce haven’t quite got their security stuff in order, and run the now-obsolete HTTP protocol instead of today’s gold standard HTTPS security certificate. You can tell which is which, as sites with the latter in place will display a small lock icon to the left of the address bar.
Luckily, you can get HTTPS everywhere with the aptly named plug-in HTTPS Everywhere, an extension that ensures every site is running the newest protocol. Input your credit card details, safe with the knowledge that you’re protected.
Yalla, grab your trusty credit card, install a VPN, get Honey and let it do its magic, and shop with joy and impunity!