UAE consumers get more online-friendly: MasterCard

The percentage of respondents in the UAE accessing the Internet for shopping increased from 29% in 2009 to 42% in 2010 according to the results of a recent MasterCard survey on online shopping. Results of the fourth survey on online shopping conducted by MasterCard also revealed that growth in the UAE is led by consumers within the age group of 25-44 years, while those in the 35-44 years age group also purchased more items and more frequently than others. Involvement with online shopping also increased among women in the UAE, with 40% of respondents accessing the internet for online shopping in 2010, compared to 33% in 2011.

The survey was conducted from 3 September to 1 October 2010 and reached 8,500 consumers from 15 markets across APMEA.

Categories leading the growth in the UAE in 2010 include airline tickets (74%) and hotel bookings (66%), followed by home appliances and electronic products (32%), clothing & accessories (34%), restaurants/home delivery of food (32%) and supermarkets/superstores (32%). Notably, convenience shopping such as restaurants/ home delivery of food and supermarkets/superstores grew to a third from about a fifth during last year. In addition, the proportion of online spend rose quite sharply for cinema (48% in 2010 versus 26% in 2009) and music concert/performing arts tickets (61% in 2010 versus 47% in 2009) while it fell sharply for music downloads (55% in 2010 versus 74% in 2009) and online gaming (60% in 2010 versus 74% in 2009).

In terms of attitudes towards online shopping, 64% of respondents in the UAE stated that when they shop online, they would prefer to have a hotline number for enquiry versus 55% in 2009. Additionally, 48% of the respondents stated that most goods are much cheaper online than they are offline, versus 37% in 2009. The perception of online shopping as fun also continues to increase (46% in 2010 versus 39% in 2009). However, 45% of UAE consumers still do not feel secure shopping online.

Amongst the top factors impacting online shopping, respondents chose price/value of the items (84% in 2010 from 68% in 2009), secure payment facility offered by site (81% in 2010 from 72% in 2009), convenient payment methods (79% in 2010 from 70% in 2009), reputation of the website/merchant (78% in 2010 from 68% in 2009) and speed of transaction (77% in 2010 from 68% in 2009). In terms of barriers to online shopping a preference to shop in-store/to look at the physical product and security concerns continue to dominate. However, interestingly, the concern with security has declined (49% in 2010 from 67% in 2009) and it is no longer the biggest barrier.

Not having additional service charges and enhancement of payment security continue to be suggested by two thirds of the UAE consumers as ways to improve online shopping in future.

In terms of mobile shopping trends, the survey indicates strong potential for growth in the UAE. Only about 1 in 8 individuals made purchases through their mobile phones in the past three months; however, among those who did not purchase through their mobile phone recently, about one-fourth are likely to do so over the next six months. Airline tickets (31%), phone applications/software (24%) and products/services in online games/virtual world (18%) were the top three categories purchased by UAE consumers through their mobile phones.

Eyad Al-Kourdi, vice president and country manager, UAE, MasterCard Worldwide said: “It is encouraging to see the positive trends in online and mobile shopping in the UAE. MasterCard is committed to contribute towards the development of the UAE as a leading global hub for retail and the latest MasterCard findings emphasise the market’s growing retail sophistication”.

“We are seeing more UAE consumers go online for lifestyle purchases as well as day-to-day household items. This trend in consumer behavior shows that today’s tech savvy shoppers are diversifying not only what they buy, but how and where. A desire for convenience and value for money continue to be important to UAE consumers as they proactively seek better and more personal ways to shop online.”

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