UAE shoppers search online but buy in-store, says report 

Seventy-eight per cent of shoppers in the UAE research products on one retail avenue, but purchase on another, says the UAE State of Retail 2022 report by e-commerce analyst CNNB Solutions and market research firm YouGov.  

The report revealed online research followed by in-store purchases was most popular. 

“[UAE shoppers] research products in one location – whether that’s via an online marketplace, on a brand website or in a store – but often make the purchase through a different retail channel,” said Nicolas Bruylants, co-founder and CVO of CNNB Solutions.  

“This represents a huge opportunity for both online and offline retailers to enhance the customer experience, differentiate themselves from competition and close the sale from the first moments of interest.” 

The report surveyed 1,000 consumers across purchases of beauty and cosmetics, designer apparel, daily wear apparel, accessories, footwear, jewellery, high-end electronics and home appliances.  

Forty-eight per cent of respondents favoured in-store experiences, particularly when shopping for jewellery, while 52 per cent preferred e-commerce.  

Among online shoppers, free and same-day delivery was prioritised by 52 per cent, closely followed by ease of returns and refunds.  

“They have high expectations and want rapid, free delivery of products that are easily returnable,” said Mr Bruylants.  

The UAE’s e-commerce market recorded $5 billion in retail sales last year, according to e-commerce district EZDubai and market research firm Euromonitor International.  

Thirty per cent of orders were returned, with online businesses processing an estimated $1.5 billion in returns.  

Clothing and apparel were returned most frequently, with beauty and cosmetics rarely returned.  

“Returns are an important problem for brands, as the cost of returns, refunds and waste need to be reduced to the minimum,” said Mr Bruylants.  

“The process can be well managed by having more control over the customer journey through a strongly curated brand website, accurate product descriptions and immersive user experiences,” Mr Bruylants added.  

“Through an effective fulfilment centre, technology and procedures, returns can become another valuable touchpoint in the buyer’s journey.”  

Only nine per cent of consumers surveyed prioritised sustainability of product packaging. However, those aged 18 to 24 were three times more likely to favour sustainability than those over 45.