Global businesses were hit by losses when outdoor activities came to a screeching halt and consumers were forced indoors during lockdowns. But the sudden jolt pushed people towards online shopping and e-payments, triggering a new surge in demand for services in the digital space for almost everything, including daily essentials and entertainment.
E-commerce giants like Amazon were already poised to benefit from the fast-paced tech adoption, but smaller businesses and new entrepreneurs also tapped into the demand soon. For a shopping destination like Dubai, this translated into a 132% increase in applications for e-commerce licenses from traders, as well as freelancers offering their services from home.
Dubai economy issued permits to 6000 businesses and individuals for entering the online marketplace in 2020, as compared to 2500 in 2019. The numbers are only set to rise further after the pandemic-induced thrust, since e-commerce sales are expected to surpass AED100 billion in 2022 for Dubai alone.
About 73% Emiratis said that they were shopping more for online groceries in comparison to the pre-covid era and 66% of them discovered the convenience of ordering apparel from e-tailers. As work-from-home created a new work culture for full-time employees, freelance pros discovered a growth in opportunities with people and businesses seeking services online.
Dubai was bound to witness this rise of demand for freelancers firsthand, since the city is home to 65% of such workers in the Emirates. E-commerce has also revolutionised more than just the tech space, since 57% out of almost 10,000 applications for online business licenses received between 2017 and 2020, came from women in the emirate.
Startups offering social media marketing services topped the list of applicants for permits, followed by cosmetics and perfume sellers, while online sweet shops came in third to savour digital opportunities.
The license comes with access to a network of Dubai Economy’s partners including e-payment platform MyFatoorah for digital transactions, and Talabat app for food delivery services.