How Souq’s shift to affects UAE consumers

Customers have the choice of triple the number of products previously available and can now shop in Arabic became for UAE customers Wednesday. Courtesy
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation is the new face of in the UAE — nearly two years after it was acquired by the US e-commerce giant for $580 million (Dh2.13 billion).

Customers redirected to the site find a message from Ronaldo Mouchawar, Souq’s co-founder and vice president of Amazon Mena, promising 30 million products and the opportunity to shop in Arabic on both the website and the app.

In addition to more products and Arabic content, consumers can also expect to see Amazon features, like recommendations and wish lists, and faster shipping options, Mr Mouchawar told The National.

“Since the acquisition, we’ve always looked at what’s best for our customers. A lot of customers trusted the Amazon brand — they love Souq, but they also wanted most of the features [of Amazon],” Mr Mouchawar said.

“We put together what is best for our local customers, but with global capability,” he added.

Here is a closer look at what changes are in store for UAE consumers.

How many more products will be on offer?

Before the change to, Souq had 9.4 million products across 31 categories, including electronics, fashion, perfumes & beauty, home & kitchen, and supermarket. The number of products has increased to more than 30 million, inclusive of five million from Amazon US and the rest from local and international sellers.

One of the categories that will expand exponentially is books, with 15 million titles to be made available on the new site, Mr Mouchawar said.

“We had a small selection of books, much more localised. Now, as part of a global network, we’re able to bring many publishers and booksellers on to the platform,” he said.

What are my payment options?

Payments can be made by credit card, debit card, Amazon gift card or cash on delivery. Cash on delivery is available as a payment method for products fulfilled by Amazon, Amazon Global Store and some seller fulfilled items.

There are some restrictions for cash on delivery based on the shipping method (for Global Store, it is only available for orders shipped via expedited shipping, rather than priority shipping) and the order value (it cannot exceed Dh5,000).

Does VAT apply?

The standard UAE VAT rate of 5 per cent is applicable to most products sold by Amazon on and may apply to products sold and fulfilled by Amazon on behalf of marketplace sellers. For items purchased from the Amazon Global Store, applicable VAT and duties are paid through the Import Fees Deposit.

What are my shipping options?

Orders including at least Dh100 of eligible items “Fulfilled by Amazon” qualify for free shipping. With free shipping, your order will be delivered one to two business days after all of your items are available to be shipped. If the order does not qualify for free shipping, standard delivery is offered at a fee starting from Dh10 depending on the type of items in your cart.

Will Amazon Prime be offered?

“We’ll be launching different services at different times,” said Mr Mouchawar. “At this stage we don’t have yet a plan to launch Amazon Prime.”

What about my data on file?

Earlier this year, Souq customers were asked to change their log-in information to Amazon, paving the way for the transition.

“Your address information is there, your payment information is there, so really it’s just a matter of filling up your shopping cart on and you’re good to go,” said Mr Mouchawar.