Consumer sentiment and spending levels continue to rise despite the effect of falling oil prices on the regional economy, according to a recent survey conducted by Virtual Info Systems (VIS), organisers of the first Smart Stores Expo (SSE) happening at ADNEC, Abu Dhabi from 23rd-25th January 2017.
The survey conducted over a period of six months is a step towards better understanding of the shopping habits, and factors driving the purchase decisions of UAE consumers and its implications on retailers.
The survey finds that 76.4% still prefer in-store shopping, whereas only 23.6% prefer to shop online, indicating that brick-and-mortar will continue to be retail mainstay despite the surge in e-commerce platforms and other technology offerings.
Much of the respondents stated that they preferred to shop in-store owing to the general shopping experience and the variety of options available. Convenience, Customer service, and location were the other key deciding factors.
The survey also revealed that 43.6% make online buys at least once a month with 38.2% participants spending an average of 6-8 hours per day online. While 50% respondents to this survey agreed that their online purchase decisions are heavily influenced by deals and discounts.
Furthermore, the study suggested that a growing number of brick-and-mortar stores are beginning to incorporate new retail technologies to improve in-store experiences with 21.4% customers using cashless payment apps, 20.4% using barcode readers while shopping in stores.
Self-service kiosks, shopping apps, and self-service check out facilities are also equally popular with 16.5% of consumers.
Speaking about the gradual shift in consumer spending patterns, Jayaraman Nair, Chairman – VIS Exhibitions and Conferences, said, “The UAE retail industry is ever-evolving, and technological innovations in particular has played a huge role in this. Usage of online platforms and shopping apps have increased considerably due to its convenience and around-the-clock shopping access.
Retailers will now have to find innovative strategies to develop brand loyalty in addition to promotions and discounts. It is extremely important to find new ways to constantly engage with consumers and their varying shopping patterns.”
The survey showed that the most frequently purchased products by online shoppers were electronics, apparels, and accessories. Interestingly, items like groceries, food and art supplies were less popular amongst online buyers.
According to the survey, the main incentive for consumers to shop online was the convenient payment options, access to deals and discounts, and shopping in the comfort of their homes.
A vast majority of shoppers felt that “in-store shopping will grow due to technological advances.” With more number of retailers using technology to improve customer experience, drive revenue, and streamline the entire shopping experience, physical shopping experience will continue to evolve and be the preferred mode of shopping by consumers.
Smart Stores Expo 2017 will provide the exhibitors an ideal platform to launch, showcase & present their latest innovations, services and products; along with meeting industry peers, building brand awareness and meeting prospective clients. The exhibitors and visitors will be privy to the latest trends in the retail industry, both regionally and global.
The event will be held from 23-25th January 2017, at ADNEC (Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company).