The Most Satisfied Shoppers Are Found in the UAE — How Other Countries Can Catch Up

Digital shopping features drive consumers to shop more. In the UAE, merchants offer features shoppers want and need — and other countries can learn from this.

Consumers worldwide are increasingly using digital features to enhance their shopping journeys, but few markets have adopted digital as quickly as the United Arab Emirates. PYMNTS’ research finds that 94% of the UAE’s 3.1 million adult shoppers used at least one digital shopping feature during their most recent purchase.

94%: Share of consumers in the UAE using at least one digital feature during their last purchaseUAE consumers’ penchant for digital shopping is a truism that local merchants know well. Retailers in the UAE offer far more of the digital shopping features consumers want. This array of features helps explain why consumers in the UAE have the smoothest shopping journeys of all studied countries.

The “2023 Global Digital Shopping Index: UAE Edition,” a PYMNTS and Cybersource collaboration, examines consumers’ shopping preferences and behavior. We surveyed 13,349 consumers and 3,124 merchants across Brazil, India, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. This global study, now in its third year, examines the factors influencing how and where consumers shop, how they pay for purchases and the features that establish merchant preference.

Key findings from this report include the following:

UAE consumers like shopping online because they believe the deals and experiences are better.

25%: Portion of UAE brick-and-mortar shoppers who used their smartphones to compare pricesWhen UAE consumers shop online, they primarily do so because they believe products found online are cheaper — especially with free shipping — and because they enjoy friction-free shopping experiences. We found that 50% of eCommerce shoppers in the UAE cited free shipping as a reason to shop online, and 43% cited easy checkout experiences. These are quite different from the reasons consumers in the UAE give for shopping in-store, however. We delve into the preferences of both eCommerce and in-store shoppers in the UAE and which features they value most.

Men use mobile phones as their shopping sidekick as often as, if not more than, women — especially when shopping in-store.

Mobile shopping is extremely popular in the UAE, with 28% of local consumers making their most recent retail purchases on their smartphones — more than in any other country except India. While women in the UAE are more likely to have completed a recent purchase entirely on their smartphones, men were more likely than women to have used their smartphones to enhance their in-store shopping experience, at 55% and 45%, respectively.

UAE merchants recognize the importance of digital shopping features and offer consumers smoother shopping experiences than other countries.50%: Share of consumers in the UAE who shop online because of free shipping

Merchants’ investments in digital shopping features and local shoppers’ keen awareness of those offerings make for a powerful combination. UAE merchants’ broad array of digital shopping features, including those that consumers can use in-store, has helped provide their shoppers with the smoothest overall shopping experience of any country in our study.

Our research uncovered an overall increase in consumers’ awareness of which shopping features local merchants offer. Consumers appear to be more on the lookout for cost-saving features than they have been in the past. Fifty-one percent more local consumers were aware of coupons, promo codes or rewards in 2022 than in 2021. We also found that shoppers in the UAE tend to overestimate how many features merchants offer.

Download the report to learn how UAE merchants must be at the top of their digital game or risk losing it all.