The Middle East's online retail industry is growing at 30-35% annually, much of it fuelled by spike in demand from Saudi and Egyptian e-shoppers. Image Credit: Screengrab

Dubai: The four-day "White Friday" sale on Souq.com kicked off on Wednesday, November 22, with offers of up to 85% off on some 8 million items for customers in the Middle East. 

Branded items — shoes, electronics, home appliances, watches, accessories — are on offer from the Dubai-based online store which hopes to rope in up to half-a-million deals this year. 

To spice up the event, 30 new deals or bundles are offered every hour, with prices starting from Dh10.

Same- or next-day delivery is free for orders above Dh100, in some cities in the region, according to Souq (Arabic for marketplace).

The four-day 'White Friday' (November 22-25) sale is the first following the acquisition earlier this year of Souq.com by the global e-retailing giant Amazon, in a deal that was completed in July. 

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As operations further improved with Amazon's technology, this year's sale is expected to post a several-fold increase from last year's, with 8 million SKUs (stock-keeping units) available on its portal, compared to 2 million SKUs in 2016.

Souq clocked in about 10,000 deals in the past, but expects to see it grow five-fold in the next four days.

With this year's online rush Souq hopes to win over new shoppers, create brand loyalty and make online purchases a habit for the region, after Amazon decided to retain its brand identity following acquisition.

Customers from Saudi Arabia are expected to snap up more deals, with promised quick deliveries, especially in certain Tier-1 cities.

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The region's online retail is set to explode, with 30-35 per cent spike every year, of which consumers in Saudi Arabia and Egypt are seen as primary drivers.

To help consumers change their mind about online shopping and tackle payment barriers, the site offers a cash-on-delivery scheme — and payments using credit cards at the time of delivery. 

Powered by online payments, the mushrooming of e-retail sites in the region (noon.com,  awok.com,  dealizzle.com,  letstango.com,  mumzworld.com,  brandsforless.com,  wadi.com,  xpressionsstyle.comweconquer.me) allows businesses big and small to get closer to customers.

Big brands as well as small businesses place their goods at the warehouses (or fulfilment centres) while e-retailers handle the sorting and last-mile delivery.