Turns out, emerging nations may hold some clues for the rest of the world when it comes to doing digital commerce right.
This, as new research into shopping ease and customer satisfaction from six key geographies around the world, revealed that developing countries put up the highest marks and are leading the way.
Certain rising economies now feature some of the most frictionless and satisfying digital shopping experiences available anywhere, according to The 2023 Global Digital Shopping Index (GDSI), a PYMNTS and Cybersource collaboration, based on surveys of nearly 13,350 consumers and 3,124 merchants across six countries — Brazil, India, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States — focusing on their digital shopping transformations.
In this third annual study of shopping behavior and the digital-societal shifts driving national scores, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) took top honors across the 34 digital capabilities merchants say are available to and most valued by consumers.
The study found that merchants in emerging markets, including Brazil, Mexico and the UAE, all offered more digital features in 2022 than in 2021, positively impacting GDSI scores for those countries. The biggest increase occurred in the UAE. Shopper satisfaction shot up 11% year over year in the UAE.
Merchants in the UAE increased shopper satisfaction by adding incentives, coupons and rewards. Our research found that 86% of UAE shoppers were pleased by local merchants adding these features in 2022. UAE merchants’ GDSI score increased from 112 to 124 in that time, adding up to an 11% jump.
The UAE is a standout and offers a roadmap for other emerging economies regarding the digital retail features most valued by consumers and merchants.
UAE merchants also managed to shrink the consumer awareness gap, and they did so comprehensively: The UAE is the only nation where consumers are more aware of each feature we studied in 2022 than they were in 2021.
Similarly, consumers in India ranked among the world’s most satisfied shoppers. New to the GDSI in this latest annual report, India now ranks second in shopper satisfaction worldwide. Not only is India adding more of the digital features consumers want, but merchants and payment providers are doing a better job of spreading awareness of these features.
With payment choice still the leading feature among all nations studied, local payment types led to score increases for India and Brazil. “Paytm is the most popular payment method in India, with 22% of consumers using it when making purchases online and 12% of consumers using it to pay in-store. PIX, Brazil’s national instant payment service, is gaining traction, as 25% of eCommerce shoppers used it, and 7.1% of in-store shoppers used it,” per the study.
PYMNTS also found India to be the most mobile-centric market, with shoppers there the most likely to be using smartphones to assist with both in-store and online shopping experiences.
We found that merchants in India are 20% more likely to offer guaranteed refunds for fraudulent charges and 17% likelier to offer inventory updates. “This suggests that boosting consumer awareness could help merchants in India raise their customer satisfaction going forward,” per the study.
Embedding automatic promo codes and coupons into online checkout pushed Brazil and Mexico higher in the new GDSI. Brazilian consumers who use promo codes or coupons in online transactions “were 45% more likely to be very or extremely satisfied than those who did not,” per the study, “and shoppers in Mexico who used promo codes or coupons were 35% more likely to be very or extremely satisfied than those who did not.”
Of three distinct shopper personas identified — Digital Mainstream, Digital Enthusiast and Digital Minimalist — we find the biggest increases in emerging economies. India has the greatest concentration of digital enthusiasts at 45.3% of shoppers, with Brazil in a statistical dead heat with the U.S. at 33% and 33.5%, respectively.
“India also has proportionally more digital mainstream shoppers per capita than other countries,” the study stated, with fully 45% of the population now identifying as digital enthusiasts.
In contrast, longtime GDSI leaders, including the U.S. and the U.K. pulled back in areas like free shipping and returns, and refunds on fraudulent charges.
Shrinking or withdrawing these features lowered scores for the U.K. and the U.S., illustrating the risks of disappointing the three new shopper personas forged during the COVID era.
Get the Study: The 2023 Global Digital Shopping Index
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