E-commerce is on the rise in the UAE, this was reiterated in a latest research by MasterCard which revealed that every five in ten people shop over the internet for various products and services. The United Arab Emirates has always been a consumer oriented market, with malls and shopping outlets being a major highlight for the people.
The emerging trend of internet shopping in UAE with such strength reflects the need for convenience and variety being a growing preference among the consumers. The growth and development of technology and online systems has led companies to deliver goods and services online, which allows customers to shop, with a few clicks on their electronic devices especially smartphones.
With UAE having one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the region, consumers are being directed towards making purchases online and avoiding the effort of going to malls and retail stores. As long as customers are sure that the online shopping medium has no security issues and there is trust in the payment methods, customers are inclined towards shopping online.
A recent study done by MasterCard, The Online Shopping Behavior 2013, showed responses of 3000 people for online shopping. The study revealed that UAE was the highest rated in the Middle East for online shopping with 51 percent of the consumers going online to shop in the last year. Saudi Arabia and Qatar followed with 48 percent.
“The steady growth of online shopping trends in the UAE sheds light on the priorities of the technology-savvy new age consumer, who now enjoys the convenience, speed, value for money and safety of their transactions while shopping online,” said Aaron Oliver, head of emerging payments for Middle East and Africa at MasterCard.
Three of the most important factors affecting online shopping are, convenience, trust and technological awareness.
Convenience plays a pivotal role for consumers to initiate online shopping, because it provides them a platform to browse various products, compare prices, read reviews and finally order with a click of a few buttons and have the company deliver it to their doorstep.
Convenience can be seen in many dimensions, from the design and interface of the website, which makes browsing easier and more pleasurable to having more options for transaction. These are all factors of convenience which facilitate the customer.
There has to be a certain level of trust in the mind of the customer when he or she is making a transaction on a website. Customers are often discouraged when shopping online because they are not sure of who might be at the other end, or whether it’s safe to share personal details and card numbers on a particular website.
Customers should be given a sense of security by ensuring a safe medium and also be provided with online customer service and support which enables them to talk to a customer service representative before sharing their card details, personal contact information or help them if they require any further product information or assistance. This builds trust when doing business online.
Technological awareness is one of the major factors that have contributed to the increase in online shopping, especially due to smartphones replacing computers. The consumers of UAE are increasingly bending towards online shopping as they become more technologically equipped and master the use of smartphones. With UAE having the region’s highest internet penetration and smartphone ownership rate, approximated at 71 percent and 73 percent respectively. These figures alone help us predict future growth of e-commerce in UAE with an increasing customer involvement.
What the Future Holds?
The future of e-commerce is quite bright in the UAE with the constant introduction of new apps and more choices being made available for customers who are looking to purchase goods and services online. With the gradual increase in the trend, businesses need to focus on their customer service and integrate it into their websites so they don’t lose potential customers and representatives are there to assist customers at all times.
Companies need to focus on delivering quality customer service 24/7 on their websites so their customers are provided with a relaxed and pleasurable customer experience when shopping online. Providing quality service to online shoppers will not only result in an increase in sales and an eagerness to purchase products but eventually lead to customer satisfaction and loyalty.