How to Start Your Online Grocery Store in Saudi Arabia: A Step-by-Step Guide

Starting an online grocery store in Saudi Arabia can be an exciting step into e-commerce. Similarly, it requires research and planning to learn more about the market for an online grocery store. Consequently, you will understand the demand, trends, and competitors.

In this article we discuss how to start your online grocery store step by step, the potential and prospects for growth and the regulatory requirements for e-commerce businesses in Saudi Arabia.

Overview of the online grocery market in Saudi Arabia

Online Grocery

Online grocery businesses in Saudi Arabia are experiencing significant growth thanks to a combination of Vision 2030, economic diversification and the increasing adoption of technology. Here’s an overview:

Economic Context:

  • Saudi Arabia, a colossal nation in the heart of the Middle East, has emerged as an attractive destination for entrepreneurs and investors from around the world, creating online grocery stores.
  • For decades, the country relied heavily on oil and gas exports.
  • However, Saudi Vision 2030 seeks to transform the Saudi economy into a diversified and modern economy, driven by foreign investment and the development of sectors such as technology, tourism, and renewable energy.

Business Opportunities:

  • Renewable Energy: Saudi Arabia has an ambitious plan to develop large-scale solar and wind energy projects, creating opportunities for companies involved in clean energy generation.
  • Technology and Innovation: The Saudi government is driving innovation and technology, creating opportunities in areas such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and information technology.
  • Tourism and Entertainment: From opening new tourist destinations to organizing sporting and cultural events, the tourism sector offers exciting opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs.
  • Education and Training: The country seeks to improve its education and technical training system, resulting in opportunities for the creation of international schools, universities, and technical and vocational training programs.

Recommendations for Entrepreneurs:

  • Research: Understanding the culture, regulations and needs of the Saudi market is crucial.
  • Local Partnerships: Collaborating with local partners can facilitate market entry.
  • Adaptability: Be willing to adapt to local customs and business practices.
  • Legal Compliance: Complying with laws and regulations is critical to business success.

Online grocery business in Saudi Arabia is booming, and opportunities range from an online supermarket, renewable energy to technology and tourism. The country’s bold vision is creating an environment to investment and expansion.

Potential and growth prospects in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, a country with great growth potential, is at a crossroads of economic transformation and diversification. Here are some key perspectives:

  • Vision 2030: The “Vision 2030” strategic plan, driven by the Saudi authorities, aims to reduce its dependence on oil. This involves diversifying sectors such as tourism, technology, and renewable energy. Investment in infrastructure and development projects is a priority.
  • Growing Market: With an estimated population of 33 million, Saudi Arabia offers a significant domestic market. Key cities, such as Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca and Medina, are centers of economic activity.

How to analyze demand trends and consumer behavior?

In order to analyze the demand trends and consumer behavior in online grocery shopping stores in Saudi Arabia, it is crucial to consider several factors, among them:

  1. eCommerce Growth: The online grocery store market in Saudi Arabia has experienced significant growth due to the massive adoption of eCommerce. As a result, consumers are looking for convenience and flexible delivery options, which has driven the demand for online shopping.
  2. Changes in Consumer Behavior: The pandemic accelerated digital adoption and consumers now prefer to shop for food and commodities through a supermarket in Saudi Arabia from the comfort of their homes. Also, safety, quality and variety are key factors influencing their purchasing decisions.
  3. Delivery Preferences: Consumers value speed and reliability of delivery. An online grocery store should offer flexible delivery options, such as home delivery or in-store pickup, to meet customers’ needs.
  4. Fresh Produce and Quality: Saudi consumers are particularly demanding when it comes to freshness and quality of food. Therefore, the online grocery store must ensure the quality of perishable products and offer a seamless shopping experience.
  5. Personalization and Recommendations: E-commerce platforms should use behavioral data to personalize product recommendations. Consumers appreciate relevant suggestions tailored to their preferences.
  6. Sustainability and Environmental Awareness: Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environment. Online grocery stores can stand out by offering sustainable product choices and reducing packaging waste.

Also, the trend for the online grocery in Saudi Arabia is that it must adapt to changing consumer preferences, thus providing a safe and secure shopping experience, fresh produce and flexible delivery options. As well as, a thorough understanding of demand trends and consumer behavior is essential for success in this constantly evolving market.

Online shopping habits in Saudi Arabia

Online shopping habits in Saudi Arabia. Have undergone significant changes in recent years, especially due to the pandemic and the growth of e-commerce.

  • Behavioral Change: Although Saudis were not major online consumers. The pandemic has driven a considerable increase in online shopping, for example through an online grocery store. Consumers now value convenience, home delivery, price, and availability as motivators to shop online.
  • Shopping Preferences: 58% of Saudi consumers prefer to shop online rather than in physical stores. This is relevant for brands looking to expand into new markets. The Saudi population, with 60% of people under the age of 30, is predisposed to adopt e-commerce as their usual means of shopping.
  • Top Selling Sectors: The sectors with the highest online sales are:
    • Food (68 %): Consumers are looking for convenience when buying staple foods and fresh produce.
    • Apparel (73 %): Fashion and apparel are popular for online shopping.
    • Medicines (65 %): The convenience of receiving medicines at home has driven this category.
  • Payment Methods: The Saudi government has been supportive of e-commerce, and the E-Commerce Law passed in 2020 has strengthened the industry. Consumers prefer local banks and mainly use payment cards (41%) for their online transactions.

So, today Saudi Arabia is undergoing a digital transformation in its shopping habits. Which is why brands must adapt to changing consumer preferences to succeed in this growing market.

Preferences for grocery shopping

Online grocery shopping preferences in Saudi Arabia have evolved significantly due to the growth of e-commerce and the pandemic. It is important to consider specific aspects such as:

  • Convenience: convenience is the main driver of online grocery shopping. As such, Saudi consumers value the ability to place orders from the comfort of their homes and have them delivered directly to their doorstep. Fast and efficient delivery is essential to satisfy this preference and provide the best online grocery shopping experience.
  • Variety and Availability: Online shoppers are looking for a wide variety of products. In view of this, the online grocery store must offer an extensive catalog of food products, from fresh produce to canned goods and staples.
  • Quality and Freshness: Saudi consumers are demanding when it comes to food quality and freshness. However, online grocery stores must ensure that perishable products, such as fruits, vegetables and meat, meet the highest standards.
  • Security and Trust: The security of online transactions is critical. Consumers prefer reliable and secure platforms to make their purchases. In addition, stores should implement security measures, such as secure payment systems and personal data protection.
  • Payment Methods: Although e-commerce and online grocery delivery are on the rise, many Saudis still prefer to pay in cash. Online grocery stores should offer flexible payment options, such as cash on delivery or local credit cards.
  • Promotions and Discounts: Special offers, discounts and promotions attract online shoppers. Saudi consumers are attentive to offers and are looking to save money on their grocery shopping.

From the above mentioned preferences in online grocery shopping KSA revolve around convenience, quality, safety and variety. Stores that understand these preferences and offer an exceptional shopping experience will be well positioned in this growing market.

How to obtain necessary licenses and permits?

Online Grocery

To start an online grocery store in Saudi Arabia, you must comply with the legal requirements and obtain the necessary licenses, which I present below:

  • Register with the Inland Revenue:

– Although your business is online, you must inform the Inland Revenue that you are starting a commercial activity. This involves obtaining a tax identification number and complying with the corresponding taxes.

– VAT is applicable in most cases (21% in Spain). If you are in another country, check local regulations.

  • Company Registration:

– Articles of Incorporation: File the articles of incorporation with the Saudi Arabian Companies Registry.

– Official Identification: Provide a valid photo ID.

– Proof of Address: Make sure you have a physical place to receive mail.

  • Business Licenses and Permits:

– Sales and Use License: You will need a sale and use license from the Department of Revenue to pay sales tax on the products you sell.

– Specific Licenses: If you sell regulated products such as alcohol, cigarettes or gasoline, you will require additional licenses specific to those items.

  • Regulatory Compliance:

– Sanitary Registration: Make sure you comply with sanitary regulations for the sale of food.

– Data Protection: If you handle personal customer information, consider data protection regulations.

  • Consult a Professional:

– Given the complexity of the regulations, it is advisable to consult with a lawyer or legal advisor specializing in business in Saudi Arabia.

– They can help you identify the specific permits for your type of business and products.

Regulatory requirements for e-commerce businesses in Saudi Arabia

Regulatory requirements for e-commerce companies in Saudi Arabia. Have undergone significant changes, and it is critical that companies understand and comply with the regulations in place:

E-Invoicing: The General Authority of Zakat and Taxation (GAZT) in Saudi Arabia has implemented a two-phase e-invoicing system. The first phase, which began on December 4, 2021, requires all companies to generate, modify and store electronic invoices and notes in a structured format. B2C invoices must include a QR code. The second phase, which will begin on January 1, 2023, will require companies to transmit electronic invoices to the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority (ZATCA).

  1. Invoicing Format: Electronic invoices must be issued in XML format based on UBL (Universal Business Language). Also, tax invoices can be delivered in XML or PDF/A-3 format (with embedded XML).
  2. Certificate of Conformity: Each shipment of goods imported into Saudi Arabia must be accompanied by a Certificate of Conformity issued by authorized entities such as Intertek. Besides, these certificates are obligatory for customs clearance.
  3. Technical Requirements: Some technical requirements for e-invoice include:
    • VAT number of the seller.
    • Date of issuance of the electronic invoice.
    • Total VAT amount.
    • Optional incorporation of a QR code.

Besides, E-commerce companies in Saudi Arabia must comply with e-invoicing regulations, specific formats and compliance certificates to operate legally in the country.


Starting an online grocery store in KSA is a great step for e-commerce, complying with the regulations and requirements to start a grocery store could be a great opportunity for your business to grow and increase both your profits and your customer base.

By following these steps and adapting them to the particularities of the Saudi market, you can establish a successful online grocery store.

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If you want to learn more about online grocery, online shopping habits in Saudi and other topics, check our insitghts!

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