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UAE E-Commerce Highly Dependent on Mobile-Centric Consumer Experiences; Finds Latest Survey

Shoppers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been found to be the most mobile-centric, omnichannel consumers in the world, according to the findings of a new survey by PYMNTS and Visa CyberSource; Visa’s payment gateway and risk platform.

Mobile phones have become the centrepiece in the armoury of digital payments, a vital tool that continues to make payments, both online and offline, more frictionless, efficient and transparent.

Although globally adopted, the authors’ latest survey, ‘The 2022 Global Shopping Index: UAE Edition‘ takes a regional snapshot of mobile phone-enabled commerce in one of the Middle East’s most promising markets.

Conducted across Australia, Brazil, Mexico, the UAE, the United Kingdom and the United States, the survey delves into the details of what separates the UAE e-commerce market from other major world economies, as well as what those differences mean for businesses.

The survey polled 13,114 consumers and 3,100 merchants from these six countries to uncover how UAE shopping preferences are differing from those in other countries.

It also looks at the most desirable shopping and payment features among local shoppers and how well local merchants are meeting their customers’ demands.


What it found was a strong penchant for mobile-enabled shopping experiences among UAE consumers; being just one of many traits that make the country’s e-commerce market unique on the world stage.

According to the data, 72 per cent of in-store shoppers in the UAE are more likely than others to use their smartphones to enhance their shopping experience.

This enhancement might involve using a device to search for product information or to compare prices at other merchants.

The survey underlines smartphones as integral to both in-store and remote shopping experiences in the UAE.

Sixty-five per cent of UAE consumers have used smartphones at some point throughout their most recent retail journeys, regardless of whether they were shopping in-store or remotely online.

This makes them 52 per cent more likely to use their smartphone at any time for any reason than the average consumer in all six countries studied in the report.

About 60 per cent of consumers have used their smartphones for in-store shopping while just under one-third completed their last purchase entirely via a smartphone.

Dr Saeeda Jaffar, Visa’s SVP and group country manager for the GCC region.
Dr Saeeda Jaffar, SVP and GCC group country manager, Visa

“UAE shoppers’ strong preference for mobile commerce touches every aspect of their shopping journeys, including their in-store shopping experiences,” said Dr Saeeda Jaffar, Visa’s SVP and group country manager for the GCC region.

“Meeting these mobile-centric shoppers’ needs is crucial to the success and growth of businesses in a market that is steadily progressing in its cashless journey.”

How are merchants reacting to this smartphone trend?

As the survey indicates, UAE merchants are striving to deliver a mobile-enabled retail experience.

The country’s merchants have been found to be far more likely than any other country to provide mobile-based features for their brick-and-mortar shoppers.

In line with this trend, seven out of 10 merchants are offering cross-channel digital profiles, allowing consumers to access their identification and payment information both in-store and online.

In other words, UAE merchants are 10 per cent more likely than the average merchant across all six countries to provide digital profiles that their shoppers can access both in-store and online.

While the country’s merchants are doing well to offer the cross-channel shopping features that their consumers desire, the survey found that the quality of these offerings is not quite up to par.

As an example of this, consumers who ordered items through their smartphone before picking them up in-store experienced 35 per cent more shopping friction than the survey average.

Nevertheless, the shoppers who use these features while shopping in-store encounter 10 per cent less shopping friction than those that do not use the features at all.

So while the UAE appears to be ahead in the mobile-enabled shopping experience, the survey makes clear that room for improvement still remains.

With the growing interest in online and mobile shopping in the country, responsible digital retailers are looking to improve their systems to provide their customers with a seamless and secure shopping experience,” continues Jaffar.

“These statistics allow retailers to identify challenges and adapt to consumers’ mobile preferences to make their retail journey safe and frictionless.”


  • Tyler is a fintech journalist with specific interests in online banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

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