UAE residents willing to adopt augmented reality for retail shopping


Consumers showed the most interest in using AI and AR solutions to shop for clothes and technology
Consumers showed the most interest in using AI and AR solutions to shop for clothes and technology

Dubai - Covid-19 and governmental response has affected shopping behaviour globally, making it crucial for retailers and brands to understand the dynamics impacting shoppers within the retail industry


Rohma Sadaqat

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Published: Wed 26 May 2021, 5:37 PM

Residents across the UAE are more open to the idea of shopping with the aid of virtual and augmented reality, compared to several other markets around the world such as Western Europe and the US, new research has shown.

According to YouGov’s latest report titled ‘International Omni-Channel Retail Report 2021: Shopping in the pandemic and implications for the future’, less than 50 per cent of consumers globally claimed interest in using this technology for any shopping category specifically. Amongst the 17 surveyed markets, interest to adopt virtual or augmented reality is higher in Asia, the UAE, and Mexico compared to Western Europe and the US.

While interest across categories is the highest in Mexico, large proportions in the UAE are likely to shop for clothes and technology or home appliances in the next 12 months using virtual reality tools. The data also showed that both brick-and-mortar and online channels are pervasive among shoppers around the globe, with nearly 75 per cent having made purchases through both channels in the past three months.

The research also found that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed shopping behaviour, shifting many shoppers online to meet their needs. Despite the shift, many still want to buy through brick-and-mortar outlets. This is especially true for certain categories like clothing. At 55 per cent, the UAE has the highest proportion of people who in general have a preference to shop clothes at brick-and-mortar stores buying from these stores during this time.

While both channels are well penetrated, the category of purchase varies. Brick-and-mortar continues to be the go-to method for purchasing everyday essential items such as food, drinks, toiletries and more. Conversely, online retail channels are the preferred channel for discretionary items such as shoes, clothing, and electronics.

“It was striking to see that despite the huge online retail boom during the pandemic, bricks and mortar retail is still more popular in many categories – for example textiles and clothing – and therefore has a great chance of rebounding; it is just a question of when,” said Adam Guiney, director of Customer Experience at YouGov. “Understanding consumer needs and the interplay between bricks and mortar and online retail in meeting those needs will be key for brands and retailers to identify potential, overcome barriers and focus on opportunities.”

When it comes to motivations, the physical experience of a product is the biggest factor in wanting to shop at an offline store, followed by speed of purchase and the provision to try out things in store. While this is good news for retailers, it does not help much under the current restrictions and social distancing norms that dissuade them from shopping in person.

On the other hand, online retailers have benefited in the short term by addressing the challenges shoppers face in buying goods while also adhering to social distance restrictions. Home delivery is the number one motivational factor to buy online, followed by convenience. However, delivery charges and the inability to experience products stand as the biggest barriers for this medium.

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