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Digital features enhance UAE consumers’ shopping experiences, but there’s room for improvement

According to a new study, despite their reliance on digital features, the share of click-and-mortar shoppers has stagnated.

Digital features enhance UAE consumers’ shopping experiences, but there’s room for improvement
[Source photo: Krishna Prasad/Fast Company Middle East]

According to a new study by PYMNTS Intelligence and Visa Acceptance Solutions, the UAE has emerged as a global leader in shopper satisfaction. The key to this success? A booming digital shopping experience. 

The survey reveals a substantial shift towards click-and-mortar shopping, seamlessly blending online tools with physical stores. This model replaces the outdated model of purely online or in-store shopping experiences. 

UAE consumers are leading the charge, with 71% actively using digital features to enhance their shopping trips. The study found they utilize an average of 14 different digital tools, with nearly 90% relying on these aids even while physically in stores. 

“Digital features can simplify shopping,” says Salima Gutieva, Visa’s UAE Country Manager. “Our data finds a correlation between more features used and higher satisfaction. For instance, click-and-mortar shoppers in the UAE have an average 56% increase in satisfaction relative to in-store-only shoppers who avoid digital features.”

The study also highlights some interesting consumer trends.

Although many UAE consumers use digital features for better shopping experiences, merchants lack offerings. In the past year, the number of features consumers use, on average, has risen, even as the average variety offered has fallen by one feature. This mismatch in supply and demand suggests that retailers are failing to fully seize the opportunities click-and-mortar shoppers present. 

While the average number of features consumers use has grown over the past year, the variety merchants offer has dipped slightly. This suggests a gap between what consumers want and what stores provide –- roughly 22% for desired and offered features. 

Nearly three-quarters of UAE shoppers (73%) have embraced online-only or click-and-mortar shopping, ditching traditional in-store experiences without digital aids. Click-and-mortar is particularly popular, with 43% of UAE consumers adopting this strategy – 4% higher than the global average. 

However, the digital revolution has yet to fully reach grocery shopping. Only 89% of regular retail shoppers use digital features compared to 45% of grocery shoppers. 

This is likely due to grocers’ need for robust digital offerings. The average UAE shopper utilizes 14 features overall, but grocery shoppers typically only use 10, reflecting their different needs. 

The study also found that 61% of parents with young children leverage digital features while shopping in-store, compared to only 33% of those without children. This highlights an apparent demand for features that cater to busy families, such as family-friendly pickup options.

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