UPDATED: July 2021
During the peak of the pandemic, we’ve learned to avoid crowded places such as shopping malls, and the popularity of online shopping skyrocketed. Now, the situation is getting better, but the habit of buying stuff online stayed with us for good. I’m happily on board with that, as I believe that while you have to visit malls from time to time to buy the necessary everyday items, online shopping is definitely a better way of acquiring other things (such as clothes or beauty products) 🙂
One of the first things I’ve noticed when I moved to Qatar back in 2012 was how difficult it was to buy anything online! Local stores had no online presence, regional e-commerce platforms had not been created yet, and most of the international ones didn’t deliver to the Middle East.
This, luckily, has changed a lot, in a big part “thanks to” the pandemic. However, shopping online in Qatar can still be a tricky business! This is mostly due to people moving around a lot, using P.O. boxes instead of physical addresses, or living in places without a proper address (such as apartments inside partitioned villas). It also has to be mentioned that Qatar Post is still a hit-or-miss when it comes to efficient deliveries (I still remember how they delivered a wrong package to hubby only because the name of the actual recipient was also Khaled 😀 ).
Keep reading to find out what are your online shopping options in Qatar, as well as the challenges you might face. At the end of this post, I also included a list of my favorite international online shops that deliver inside Qatar.
When it comes to online shopping in Qatar (or most countries, for that matter), you usually have three options:
1. Buying from locally-based online shops.
– The fastest delivery of all three options.
– Often possible to pay cash on delivery.
– Minimal delivery fee (in most cases you will get free delivery inside Doha).
– A limited choice of items.
– High prices.
– Higher possibility of getting scammed.
2. Buying from renowned international online shops offering delivery to Qatar.
– A trusted source with decent customer service (as a rule).
– Lower prices of purchased items.
– Clear and efficient refund policies.
– Delivery can take forever (especially the free delivery option).
– Some items may get stuck in the Customs.
– Returning anything is a costly and lengthy process.
3. Buying from international online shops and using a forwarding service (such as Shop&Ship or Connected) to get the goods delivered.
– You can buy literally anything (as long as you have a mail forwarding account in this country, and the item is not banned in Qatar).
– The forwarding company will usually inform you in case there might be an issue at the Customs.
– You can collect the item from a specific location in Doha instead of waiting forever for the courier to reach your location. 🙂
– Additional shipping charges can sometimes exceed the value of ordered items.
– All the extra time needed for handling.
– Customer service could be better (but that’s my personal experience).
What are the most common issues people experience while shopping online in Qatar?
Logically, most of the issues relate to ordering things abroad and having them delivered locally. Below you will find some common problems that you can expect to experience at some point. Every single one of those issues happened to me, at least once. 😀 Keep those in mind to try to avoid whichever you can.
— Delayed delivery within Qatar, due to lack of professionalism from local courier companies (sometimes shipping time from abroad to Qatar is shorter than delivery within Qatar…).
— Items arriving damaged or spoiled, due to the very same local courier companies (happened to me with my iHerb order, kept for 3 days in a delivery van without AC in the middle of the summer…).
— Items getting stuck in customs due to their nature, or country of origin (don’t even try ordering anything that has “made in Israel” written on it… 😉 ).
— Not being able to order items from companies who don’t deliver to P.O. Boxes.
— No proper notification when the item is ready for collection (I’m looking at you, Qpost!).
— Returning any item will probably cost you more than the item itself.
So, which international shops ship to Qatar?
Below, you will find a link to a list of international online shops offering delivery inside Qatar, with all the necessary information included. I decided to go with the “quality over quantity” principle, so the list is not comprehensive, but includes shops that I either used myself, or I know someone who did (and did not complain 🙂 ).
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