Mobile wallets to messaging apps: Top shopping trends of UAE revealed

Penetration of technology in the United Arab Emirates market has led to a rise in digital shopping. A total of 51 percent of UAE shoppers use mobile wallet, 48 percent use social media, and 28 percent use messaging apps to make purchases, revealed a recent global Connected Shoppers report by customer relationship management (CRM) firm Salesforce.

Digitally savvy UAE shoppers have an average of five shopping apps on their mobile devices.

As 2019 winter shopping season approaches, 76 percent of UAE shoppers plan to increase their winter holiday purchases via online marketplaces while another 48 percent say Instagram will be their main source of winter holiday shopping inspiration.

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However, traditional brick-and-mortar stores remain as relevant as ever, with their roles evolving into hubs of discovery, experience and fulfilment. In the United Arab Emirates, the top reasons to shop in-store are to touch and feel the merchandise, the overall in-store experience, and to get merchandise immediately. The report also shows that 56% of UAE shoppers have purchased a product online for in-store pickup.

As shoppers explore the digital experience, global consumers used an average of eight channels to communicate with companies.

The report reveals that UAE shoppers are moving targets, jumping across physical and digital destinations as they browse, purchase and request service and support, with 14% of purchases occurring on emerging digital touchpoints that are completely separate from retailers’ and brands’ owned properties.

“UAE shoppers are among the most digitally-savvy and brand conscious in the EMEA region, with our Connected Shoppers Report showing that they have the world’s highest average number of shopping apps, five, on their mobile devices,” said Thierry Nicault, Regional Vice-President Enterprise Business Unit (EBU) for Middle East, Africa and Central Europe, Salesforce. “Retailers should forget about pulling shoppers only into their four walls. As winter holiday shopping approaches, brands, retailers, and online marketplaces must go wherever UAE shoppers are – in-store, mobile, social media – and become companies that consumers love.”

The report surveyed over 10,000 global consumers across 20+ countries, including 200 from the United Arab Emirates, as well as four generations — silents/baby boomers, Gen Xers, millennials and Gen Zers — offering insights into the vendor-shopper relationship regardless of shopper demographics.

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Top emerging shopping trends of in the United Arab Emirates are:

  • Retailers, brands and online marketplaces are battling for wallet share
    In an era of constant connectivity, hyper-personalized engagement, and new business models like direct-to-consumer for brands, shopping today looks nothing like its former self. 88% of UAE shoppers buy from a combination of retailers, brands, and online marketplaces.
  • Shopping is evolving, as consumers define new terms of engagement:
    Today, retail is more than a transaction at a checkout counter. Vendor-shopper relationships are strengthened when consumers feel understood and special. In fact, 77% of UAE shoppers said they tend to shop with a specific brand in mind. The report shows that exclusive shopping experiences and promotions are a valuable way for companies to build loyalty (and lucrative) relationships.
  • Shopper journeys are moving to the edge of vendor-owned channels
  • Physical stores remain critical as discovery, experience and fulfilment hubs
  • Purchase Preferences Vary Across Generations:
    Globally, the report found that generational differences reveal clues to future retail transformations as younger shoppers gain more purchasing power. Members of the silent and baby boomer generations are more likely to stick with traditional means of shopping, as expected. However, all other generations — from Gen Xers to millennials and Gen Zers — are more likely to adopt new paths to purchase like mobile wallets, messaging apps and social media.
  • Surprisingly, Gen Z is not leading the adoption of all emerging touchpoints. Voice assistants, video chat, chatbots, visual search and live-stream videos enjoy more popularity with Gen Xers and millennials than with Gen Zers.