Introducing e-commerce and the Iraqi Consumer

In this blog post we’d like to highlight some insights on e-commerce and the Iraqi consumer, as taken from our whitepaper on the findings from our Iraq Consumer Survey 2020.

How do Iraqis purchase online? And how frequently?

The survey told us that 57% of Iraqi internet users shopped online in the previous 3 months.

But how frequently are Iraqis shopping online? And how can they actually buy things online if the vast majority don’t have a bank account?

The answer is – the most popular way Iraqis shop online is direct messaging to the seller and paying cash on delivery.

In Iraq, we have to broaden the definition of ‘online shopping’ (with bank cards and associated facilities), to include: finding and ordering a product online using online messaging, an App, or website, and then paying cash on delivery. Rezhna does this regularly. It is also worth noting that many Iraqis will refer to ‘getting something online’ when they have in fact offered via a telephone number on a retailer website or social media page. 20% of internet users have done this in the past three months, but we haven’t included such purchases in our overall online shopping figure.

Hence on the basis of this, 57% of Iraqi internet users shopped online in the previous 3 months.

Male / female – what are they buying online?

Interestingly, women are also slightly more likely than men to shop online. And they are also more likely to order online using online messaging, while men prefer to order a product they found online via telephone. 

The top 3 things Iraqis buy online are clothing and footwear (42%), food delivery (36%) and health and beauty products (27%).

Women are more likely than men to shop online for clothing and footwear, and also health and beauty products. Men are more likely to shop online for consumer electronics and computers.

And it is young women who are particularly driving demand for online products, like Rezhna – whom we met in our earlier blog post.

Iraqis shop online to find new products rather than save money

Perhaps related to Iraqis not regarding the internet as a way to save money (which we wrote about in our earlier blogpost on digital behaviour, we discovered that the primary reason for shopping online is access to new products (just over half of online shoppers). And a third of the survey’s respondents said it’s to access a better product selection. Only just over a quarter feel online shopping is cheaper than in-store. Interestingly, just over a third say the most common reason they don’t shop online is fear of overspending.

If you consider reasons for shopping online by gender or region though, it’s a different story.

More men than women think it’s cheaper shopping online than in-store, which could be related to the products they are more likely to buy (electronics, like Walid’s Korean smartphone).

And in Kurdistan, people shop online for greater convenience overwhelmingly more than in Central and Southern Iraq. This reflects the fact that there’s a more developed range of apps in Kurdistan supporting online shopping, such as Lezzoo and Birsima for food and grocery delivery, as well as a better delivery and transport infrastructure.

The online shopping experience could be improved though. Two thirds of online shoppers haven’t been satisfied with a product on delivery. And in contrast to western behaviours, nearly half then opted to do nothing about it, with not even a quarter able to return the product for a replacement or refund in their most recent purchase.

 Where can you find out more?

To find out more about the Iraqi consumer – including their attitudes to the internet and financial inclusion – please take the time to read our whitepaper in full. It outlines all the detailed findings from our Iraq Consumer Survey 2020. And it’s a fascinating and visually beautiful read.

Caroline McGarrIntroducing e-commerce and the Iraqi Consumer
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