MasterCard releases the results of its Online Shopping Behaviour study that indicates online shopping has increased gradually over the last two years, with local websites, such as Souq.com, emerging as a popular choice by shoppers. According to the study, 83 percent of UAE residents had made a purchase online during the three months prior to the study being conducted and four out of five respondents said they were satisfied with the process. Top categories for online spending include airlines, travel and hotels, followed by shopping for home appliances and clothing.
The Online Shopping Behavior Survey, which measures consumers’ propensity to shop online, was conducted at the end of last year and was based on interviews with 4000 respondents across eight markets in the Middle East and North Africa including the UAE.
“Online is quickly becoming the norm for more shoppers in the UAE due to the high level of awareness amongst consumers about the convenience, speed and safety of their transactions. They are adopting new technologies, such as MasterPass, which allows consumers to store all their MasterCard or other branded payment card information, as well as shipping and billing address details, securely in one place. This gives them the ability to make online payments quickly, with a single click, tap or touch of the MasterPass button at checkout,” says Aaron Oliver, head of emerging payments – Middle East and Africa, MasterCard, in a press statement. “From a merchant’s point of view, banks and other financial institutions in UAE are driving the growth of the e-commerce industry by eradicating barriers to e-commerce and developing customized payment solutions that facilitate the acceptance of online payments for both large and small businesses.”
The study claims that in the UAE, Souq.com emerged as the most commonly visited website for shopping online, with over 45 percent of respondents having made a purchase from the site during the three months leading up to the study. The next most visited site was Amazon.com, with 16 percent of respondents having purchased from it, reflecting UAE consumers’ preference for local websites over foreign sites. The advantages cited for shopping online locally included convenience and economy, followed by safety and the fear of hidden charges on foreign sites.
Co-Founder of Souq.com, Ronaldo Mouchawar said, “We are seeing huge growth in the trend toward online shopping and currently one in two consumers in the UAE have shopped on Souq.com, with an item sold every 1.5 seconds. As the number of people shopping online increases, so do their expectations of service and delivery which is something Souq.com strives to not only meet, but exceed together with our partners, including MasterCard. We currently provide customers secure payment options, a one-year warrantee on all products as well as free delivery, all of which enhance the whole online shopping experience.”
Results of the survey also highlighted an affinity for making purchases through smart handheld devices. Of the respondents polled, nearly one-third made online purchases through their mobile phones, which is higher than what was observed in the UAE for results collected in 2012 and 2013. According to Mouchawar, 40 to 50 percent of sales on Souq.com are made through mobile devices, demonstrating a huge opportunity for growth in this category.
Respondents pointed to convenience and the wide availability of apps as key reasons for relying on their mobile phones, with fewer people mentioning a preference to shop in brick and mortar stores compared to the results of the 2014 study (results collected in 2013).
Airline tickets and phone apps were found to be the two main categories of products purchased online via mobile phones, followed by clothing, accessories, hotel accommodations and cinema tickets.