Lebanon flag Lebanon: Buying and Selling

E-commerce in Lebanon

E-commerce

Internet access
Lebanon is a smaller  Middle Eastern country, with a population that slightly exceeds 6 million. Internet penetration rate rose to 75.4% at the end of 2017 (Internet World Stats) (91% according to a Hootsuite survey) with 4.6 million Internet users, accounting for 3.1% of total internet user population in the Middle East. Internet penetration rate in Lebanon stands well above the regional average (57.8%), but below most GCC countries. Smartphone penetration rate is also increasing rapidly as in the rest of the region; however, figures vary between 52% (PayFort 2016) and 91% (MidEast Media Survey 2017). Unlike most countries in the region, the share of desktops and laptops in web traffic increased on 2017 (51% of all traffic, 18% y-o-y increase) whereas the share of mobile fell to 46% (-13% y-o-y). As far as search engines are concerned, Google dominates the industry with 96.38% market share (Statcounter), followed by Yahoo at 1.78%.
E-commerce market
The Lebanese e-commerce market is growing moderately. It still lags behind many of its neighbours, despite the fact Lebanon is ranked 5th on e-commerce readiness in the Middle East (and 56th worldwide), according to the UNCTAD B2C E-commerce Index 2017. According to the last available data, e-commerce generated US$ 341 million in sales in 2016, representing a 9.8% growth from 2015 (US$ 310 million). Nonetheless, that represented a share of less than 1% of  the GDP (0.07% in 2016). Given that most products can be found near consumers' homes, the country hasn't fully adapted to online shopping. Additionally, there still exists a lack of trust when it comes to online payment security. For that reason, cash on delivery is a predominant payment method in Lebanon, as more than two-thirds of payments are made in cash, even though some websites try to discourage it. There exist no e-commerce laws or a regulatory framework for e-transactions in the country. However, a new e-commerce law is currently being studied by the Ministry of Economy, which would set standards for the new digital markets, and subsequently fuel Lebanon’s digital industry to new heights.  An e-government initiative is also being thought of, aiming to encourage a more digital-oriented culture among the Lebanese, especially senior citizens. The market is characterised by a general interest in cross-border trade - for both Pan-Arab and international websites - and the lack of a local general retailer giant. Ali express is one of the leading e-commerce sites in Lebanon, while Amazon only offers limited delivery, mostly of books. Ali express orders delivered by Lamppost were not subjected to customs duties until the national postal company revised its international shipment scheme in 2014. The Pan-Arab Sou is popular in Lebanon, as well and a few Lebanese retailers such as Ishtar, Lakshmi, GSA and Alexina, which have considerable market shares. Only Ishtar functions as a sole general retailer, while Lakshmi and GSA include special service and merchandise deals for a limited amount of time (following the Group on model) and Alexina uses classified advertising. However, e-commerce in Lebanon is not restricted to traditional websites. It's becoming more common for individuals to sell products on Instagram and Facebook, especially when it comes to fashion.
E-commerce sales and customers
The Lebanese e-commerce market continues its moderate growth both in sales and the number of online shoppers. According to the last available data, 2.3 million people shopped online in 2016, compared to 2.1 million in 2015, which represents an annual growth rate of 9.5% (State of Payments, PayFort 2017). Younger age groups (below 30) are the most active online users (50% of internet users). Regarding income levels, mid-income category (US$ 533 to US$ 1,065) had the most active online shoppers. The top shopping categories were clothing (44% of online shoppers) and travel services (42% of online shoppers) while electronic equipment (tablet, TV) were among the least bought products (PayFort). Lebanese people tend to shop online mainly for three reasons: competitive prices, group offers and exclusive products. Given that only 11% of people have credit cards, cash-on-delivery is the most preferred payment method (accounting for over 60% of online orders) as in most other countries in the Middle East, while electronic wallets fail to attract a large group of consumers (only 4% of women and 5% of men make internet payments - Hootsuite 2018). New mobile payment methods are set to be introduced in 2018 as part of a partnership between Bank Audi and MasterCard. Nonetheless, according to the PayFort survey, 47% of consumers would still prefer to pay in cash even if mobile wallets exist.
Social media
Lebanon is considered the most liberal and free country in the Arab world, and social media have played an active role as an agent of change in the country. Lebanese internet users are active on social media and access their accounts both via computers and mobile. According to Hootsuite, the number of social media users rose to 4 million (14% y-o-y increase) in 2018, accounting for 66% of the population. Out of the total number of social media users, 3.6 million people also access their accounts via mobile. As in most other Middle Eastern countries, Facebook and WhatsApp are the most popular social media networks in Lebanon. Facebook counts 3.6 million Lebanese users, out of which 68% are under 34 years old, and 57% are male. Instagram is particularly popular among younger generations, as 73% of users are under 34 years old. As for gender, things are balanced with 51% male users and 49% female. The platform is increasing its market share in the country, and currently has 1.4 million users (23% of the population). Twitter and LinkedIn do not enjoy the same level of popularity, with 80 thousand and 520 thousand users respectively. As of August 2018, the most popular social media platforms in Lebanon by market share were YouTube (50.67%), Facebook (32.07%), Pinterest (8%), Twitter (6.29%), Instagram (2.13%) and Google+ (0.24%). 

Return to top

Any Comment About This Content? Report It to Us.

 

© Export Entreprises SA, All Rights Reserved.
Latest Update: May 2022

Return to top