Demographic Factors Associated with Online Shopping Experiences of Saudi Arabian Women

Demographic Factors Associated with Online Shopping Experiences of Saudi Arabian Women

Ragad Abdulhameed Hannon (Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA) and Walter Richard Schumm (Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/IJOM.2017100104
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Abstract

Internet usage in Saudi Arabia is growing quickly; for example, e-commerce grew 300% between 2007 and 2009. However, very little research has been done considering online shopping within Middle Eastern countries, especially for Saudi Arabia. The survey relied on snowball sampling and was delivered electronically via emails. The sample analyzed here included 171 Saudi national women living in Saudi Arabia. Results show that education and income were significantly related to more frequent and extensive online shopping experiences while results were mixed for the remaining independent variables, which included age, parental status, marital status, length of employment, having a personal driver, and number of children. Implications for e-commerce in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East are discussed.
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Introduction

Today, with the Internet we live in the Global era when the whole world seems more like an interconnected village. Geographical boundaries have become more porous because any person via the Internet can reach the other side of the world. Electronic marketing represents a large portion of the Internet pie that continues to grow, as technology provides the consumer with a wider selection of goods while the retailer now has a new segment of the population to which to promote their goods.

Online retailers no longer have a specific nationality to market to, as consumers can communicate with retailers and buy products from another part of the world. In fact, the fast transportation of these products to consumers helps to develop online shopping globally. One area of the world with a lot of potential for further online shopping growth includes in Arab countries in the Middle East. Amin and Amin (2013) have called for more cross-cultural studies to further scholarly understanding of e-commerce.

Saudi Arabia has the largest population of six Arab countries and internet usage in Saudi Arabia has been growing quickly (Alsharief, 2017; Alsharief & Al-Saadi, 2017). Online retailers must take national culture into account if they want to access the Saudi Arabian market, however. Even with globalization and the introduction of new technologies into daily use, consumers retain their cultural values (DeMooij & Hofstede, 2002). Therefore, for retailers to understand e-commerce in Saudi Arabia, the culture must first be examined.

Saudi Arabia is a conservative culture; the official religion is Islam and 100% of Saudi citizens are Muslims. Islam is a lifestyle for every Muslim; thus, religion informs every aspect of social and personal life. Life and society in Saudi Arabia have been designed to appropriately meet Islamic rules. There are two kinds of police in Saudi Arabia: typical police who enforce the law like in any country, and religious police whose job is to control morality in the public areas. For example, the religious police will ask people to go to pray during prayer times, make sure women are dressed appropriately, and stop youths and boys from teasing girls.

When the Internet opened the door in Saudi Arabia to the rest of the world, it was a challenge to cultural values, because what is acceptable globally may not be acceptable within Saudi Arabia’s conservative culture. Thus, the government now reviews and blocks websites that are not acceptable in Islamic culture, however; if a citizen finds it is important to have a specific website unblocked, he/she can file a request which will be reviewed for safety and importance. Islam features a number of ethical values with respect to business transactions and research is needed on e-commerce to ensure that the electronic nature of such transactions do not unintentionally increase the ease of violating such ethics (Zarrad & Debabi, 2015).

In addition to cultural rules regarding apparel wear and gender segregation in some public locations, Saudi women are also not allowed to drive vehicles in the cities of Saudi Arabia, and the separation of men and women extends to the car (Doumato, 1999). Thus, for a Saudi woman to go shopping, for example, she should have a driver from her family (her husband, father, son, or brother). For less conservative families, a woman may have a private driver or take a taxi when she wants to go somewhere. While educational levels for women in Saudi Arabia have been improving, there are still many challenges remaining in which access to higher education is problematic for women (Hamdan, 2005).

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