Online shopping is growing increasingly popular in the UAE, according to the results of a recent MasterCard survey.
Results of MasterCard's survey on online shopping behavior revealed that 42% of UAE shoppers accessed the internet for online shopping in 2011; up from 33% in 2010. The survey also found that shopping via mobile phones is increasing, with 15% of consumers surveyed planning to do so in the coming months.
The survey found the greatest proportion of online spend is occurring on airline sites, with 78% of UAE respondents preferring to purchase tickets online rather than at traditional outlets. Other leading categories are apps (76%), coupon/deal sites (68%) and music download sites (64%).
On average, 33% of respondents who visit retailer websites when online shopping indicated that they visit luxury or high-end goods sites. The survey also found that the most popular online purchasing website for UAE respondents is Emirates Airlines (10%), followed by Cobone (8%).
Raghu Malhotra, division president, Middle East & North Africa, MasterCard Worldwide said: "The UAE is undoubtedly the retail hub for the Middle East and it is not surprising that the country has one of the fastest rates of adoption when it comes to innovative trends such as online and mobile shopping. It is encouraging to note that UAE consumers are increasingly looking to shop online in order to capitalize on the efficiency, safety and convenience of online shopping channels."
Attitude Towards Online Shopping
In terms of attitudes towards online shopping, 65% of respondents indicated that they prefer a hotline for enquiries when shopping online. Additionally, 62% of consumers who shop online said that they tend to read online reviews of products before purchasing, and 62% of consumers who shop online said that they tend to go to the same sites when they have used them before. However, 43% of consumers in the UAE still do not feel secure shopping online.
Amongst the top factors impacting online shopping, respondents chose price/value of the items (85%), secure payment facility offered by red by site (85%), convenient payment methods (82%), reputation of the website (81%) and website being user-friendly (79%).
In addition, 79% of consumers plan in advance about products or services they will shop for before going online. Consumers' research is mostly done through general internet browsing (67%), exploring merchant websites (58%) and talking to friends or family members (43%).
Other Key Findings:
Cross-border Shopping: The survey also found that respondents spend 32% of their time on foreign retailers' websites. Respondents are most likely to purchase airline tickets (26%) and clothing/accessories (11%) from these foreign websites. In contrast, the main barriers to cross-border shopping were consumers' perceptions that products are available locally (48%), buying locally is more convenient (45%) and that buying locally is cheaper (45%).
Mobile Shopping: In terms of mobile shopping trends, the survey indicates strong potential for growth in the UAE, as 12% of individuals surveyed made purchases through their mobile phones in recent months. Apps (36%), cinema (24%) and airline (23%) were the top three categories purchased by consumers in the UAE through their mobile phones. Among those who did not purchase through their mobile phones recently, an additional 15% of respondents are likely to do so in the coming months.
Ethical Spending: The MasterCard survey also explored the reasons and channels for "responsible" purchasing. It found that approximately 50% of individuals purchased items in the last 2-3 years because of one or more ethical reasons, like products based on fair trade principals or if products are environmentally friendly. Approximately 35% of individuals who purchased items because of ethical reasons did so online.
The survey was conducted from 05 December 2011 to 06 January 2012 and reached 12,500 consumers from 25 markets across APMEA. The survey and its accompanying reports do not represent MasterCard financial performance.