Rising Costs Curb UAE Online Purchases


Although e-commerce in the United Arab Emirates is growing, a new survey reveals that 43 percent of online shoppers in the country have abandoned their shopping carts in the last three months. The rising costs and hidden additional fees on websites are making customers look back at the old-fashioned brick-and-mortars.

Numerous studies in the recent years have confirmed that the UAE has one of the highest levels of mobile and tablet penetration in the world. Technologies are becoming an essential part of life for the average person and retail market is booming, but still, online shopping isn’t as developed as in the US, Europe or Asia. The latest survey conducted by global market research company YouGov, discovered that regular online shoppers in the UAE purchase averagely five items every three months. Compared to other markets such as the US, the country still lags behind in terms of payment processing systems and Internet security, according to specialists. However, these are not the sole reasons for the low growth of e-commerce. The YouGov E-Commerce Index reveals significantly more complex picture in the sector.

According to the survey of over 1,000 consumers in the UAE, 43 percent of them have stopped shopping online in the last three months. While 31 percent of them admit they can find the product for less in-store, 26 percent say that extra fees and additional charges at check-out prevent them from purchasing. Overall, many retail websites fail to meet their customers’ expectations in terms of transparency. While the listed price of a product may seem attractive at first sight, the hidden additional fees make it more expensive and it doesn’t make sense to buy it online.

In fact, retailers could use the most successful online stores in the world as a good example of how to ensure revenue growth. Instead of high prices and additional fees, they should start introducing promotions, free deliveries, and sales events to lure even those who love shopping at the popular malls across the country. It seems some brands in the UAE are doing it right, at least according to the survey. The best value for money, for the respondents, can be found in Carrefour UAE, followed by Cobone and Groupon. The most trusted company is also Carrefour, while the website offering the best design and usability is Cobone’s.

The survey also looked at the most popular ways for online purchases and found that 35 percent of the people, shopped in the past three months, used their smartphones. Another 23 percent of the shoppers are making purchases through their tablets. 57 percent of the respondents use their credit cards for transactions, while 48 percent prefer the cash-on-delivery option.


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