The past couple of months have seen some especially excellent freely available stats focusing on online retail across some of the world’s less-analysed markets. With comScore releasing their Peru 2015 Digital Future in Focus and Nielsen publishing some key ecommerce insights for New Zealand.

In addition to these, Payfort haa recently released the annual and ever-growing State of Payments report looking at the Arab World. The report is tantalisingly comprehensive, so I thought I’d use this post to highlight some takeaways which really caught my eye.

The ecommerce market in the Arab World is worth $7b

The United Arab Emirates accounts for the biggest share of this with its own market being valued at $2.3b by the end of 2014, followed by Saudi Arabia and Egypt with online retail markets of $1.5b and $1.4b respectively.

During 2014, November and December were the best months for the region with each seeing nearly $28m in online transactions.

Who’s shopping? 

Across the region, men are going online to shop more than women. For instance in the UAE 59% of online shoppers are male, while Egypt sees the biggest disparity – with 77% of shoppers being male.

Younger web users are helping drive the ecommerce market too. In all the markets analysed, 26-35 year olds are more likely to make purchases online than any other age group.

In Egypt, a massive 50% of digital shoppers are 26-35.

As for products bought… air tickets, electronics and fashion items are the most popular goods purchased online by shoppers in the Arab World.

Ecommerce is getting social

The leading ways for ecommerce brands to connect with shoppers across the Arab region is via search engine optimisation and social media.

Facebook is the leading social channel among Arab online retail brands, with 41% using the service. Instagram is also proving popular – with 23% of these companies making use of the photo sharing app.

It’s good to see increasingly in-depth coverage of the digital market(s) in the Middle East. Ecommerce growth was certainly impressive in 2014 and we can expect more people shopping online in 2015.

For those looking to connect with online shoppers across the Arab World, brands need to be aware of the comparatively acute demographics currently making purchases online at the moment – i.e. men aged 26-35 – and to try to understand what might make other web users look to try online shopping.

Access may be an issue for certain consumers. And we can also see that certain product types may well be being better offered through online channels than others.

Social and SEO are seemingly proving increasingly vital for ecommerce companies to reach more and more customers, so it will be interesting to see how digital shopping continues to evolve as search, social and more mobile technologies see increasing adoption in 2015.

For more mobile trends and stats from across the digital sphere, see our Internet Statistics Compendium.