Title

Pre-feasibility of online food portal in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Author

Imran Tahir

Degree

Master of Business Administration Executive

Faculty / School

Faculty of Business Administration (FBA)

Year of Award

Spring 2019

Project Type

MBA Executive Research Project

Access Type

Restricted Access

Keywords

Shopping, Computer network resources, Electronic commerce

Executive Summary

The population of Saudi Arabia is above 33 million, out of which one-third are expatriates. Social trends in Saudi Arabia suggest that e-marketing affected society in a way that led to behavioral changes among Saudi families, which resulted in a consumerist culture. Due to facilities and opportunities around the economic hub, increased urbanization, and penetration of western businesses, there is a visible change in lifestyles that lead to increased consumption patterns among Saudi consumers. According to Foodex Saudi, the Saudi Arabia catering services market is projected to reach $6.9 billion by 2023. This shows that the Saudi food market is experiencing significant growth and has great potential. Restaurants and fast-food chains do not always use healthy and hygienic ingredients and hence people tend to prefer home-cooked food. Besides, there are house-wives and home-based cooks and chefs who love cooking and passionate to adopt this cooking and food supply as a profession. However, they lack the right infrastructure and access to potential consumers. This feasibility assesses a potential online platform where such cooks and food suppliers could offer their meals and consumers could search and find home-cooked healthy food. The platform might have a full-featured website, which could be accessed through computers as well as mobile phones etc. and hence a multi-platform application would be required. The aim is to ascertain the existence of a market for such a platform in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For this, we employed a qualitative research method and utilized different tools to understand user behavior, especially a questionnaire that was designed to understand the current pattern and preferences of food consumers and they're eating out habits. The respondent shows positive feedback towards the proposed website. It further suggested a significant demand for home-cooked food and willingness towards ordering and consuming home-cooked food, if available. We also carried out a focus group discussion with potential cooks and food suppliers who are interested in commencing or furthering their food supply business. Focus group helped us understand challenges being faced by such food suppliers and their expectations and preferences· from such a platform. A couple of interviews were carried out. First was with the owner of a website that developed and launched a startup in 2017. We discussed what challenges were faced, especially concerning Saudi Arabia's environment and business landscape and found that technology startups are encouraged by government and assistance is extended towards startups. Another interview was carried out with a technology expert and discussed the issues and challenges of the proposed website and mobile application development. We further had a conversation regarding the different medium of online marketing and how they can add value to user experience. Since we are not directly conducting a business or selling any products, we expect that the revenue generation could be a challenge. Although we expect that once the website becomes popular and with increased visitors, we would be able to generate revenues through a direct advertisement, affiliate marketing, and other indirect incomes. One of the ideas to get benefit from this platform is to commence our own food supply business as one of the many food suppliers. This will not only provide business opportunities but also help us raise the quality bar by giving good food and services to potential consumers. Overall the proposed portal seems doable and expected to attract a large number of consumers, as well as food suppliers and thus, recommended proceeding with a detailed business plan. We aim to launch this portal in Jeddah and after streamlining different aspects of the platform and fine-tune its features and services, subsequently, extend it to other cities of regions of Saudi Arabia.

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