UAE e-commerce set for record 2019
E-commerce spending across the UAE in 2018 saw an almost 50% growth as opposed to 2017, experts said
The e-commerce sector in the UAE is all set to record a strong performance over the next few years, driven by an ever growing number of online shoppers, who are confident about making various purchases online.
Experts have noted that shoppers across the UAE and the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region are enjoying the many benefits that come with using cards over cash for their transactions. The popularity of cards will only continue to grow as retailers in the region look to capitalise on their popularity with shoppers.
"With the world becoming more connected and consumers' trust on online shopping evolving, we believe that consumer spend via online retail platforms will see significant growth in the coming years," said Shahebaz Khan, general manager for the UAE at Visa.
"The UAE's e-commerce market is estimated to be worth $27.1 billion in 2022. The possibilities for merchants, financial institutions and consumers are enormous, and it is vital, therefore, that we continue to build consumers' trust and improve the infrastructure of online payments so that consumers can benefit from more seamless, rewarding and secure shopping experiences."
"We're seeing positive trends in terms of UAE consumers' attitudes towards e-commerce," he added. "As part of Visa's annual Security Week, we conducted a survey that examined how they perceive online shopping, with the findings revealing that 66 per cent of consumers in the UAE trust online shopping and that 70 per cent trust online payments."
Similarly, Girish Nanda, general manager, UAE & Oman at Mastercard, noted that transactions in the e-commerce space are growing at a much faster rate than transactions at Point-of-Sale (POS) terminals. "We expect this trend to continue in 2019 and 2020; there are two key factors driving this trend: first, the growth of online or e-commerce merchants with business models that can be scaled up faster than traditional brick and mortar models, and second, a growing number of retail, F&B and travel businesses going online with their operations. Consumers across the globe now expect their cards to work across all popular platforms, whether it is for e-commerce, mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay or contactless payments. The UAE is no different, given consumers' increasing demand for safe, secure and seamless payment experiences."
"We've seen a six-fold increase in contactless transactions in the UAE since 2017," he added. "In fact, one in every four transactions in the UAE is now contactless, highlighting two key trends: first, the country's gradual transition into a cashless economy, and second, growing confidence in card payments, mobile wallets and new payment technologies."
According to data published by Visa, cards are continuing to gain popularity over cash. When it came to digital transactions, card payments in the UAE in 2018 were recorded at 70 per cent, compared to 68 per cent in 2017. Cash on delivery, during the same period, fell from 22 per cent in 2017 to 15 per cent last year. Visa's research also indicated that once shoppers have found new ways of payment, they are going to continue using them. Looking at contactless cards, 52 per cent of non-users said that they are likely to start using them in the near future. Similarly, 46 per cent of non-users say that they are likely to start using digital wallets in near future.
Offering a review of the UAE's spend trends in 2018, Pankaj Kundra, SVP, head of Payments at Mashreq Bank, said that consumer card spends experienced a six per cent growth in 2018, compared to 2017. The biggest winner, he said, was e-commerce, which saw spending increase by 48 per cent as opposed to 2017. In terms of sector wise performance, growth was driven by food and beverage, which increased by 20 per cent, followed by a 16 per cent growth in supermarket spends. Hospitality continued growing with a modest increase of two per cent.
"While brick-and-mortar merchants have already expanded their product offering into the e-commerce space, this expansion may be at the cost of the cannibalisation of their traditional business, through the equivalent growth in their e-commerce channel," he said. "However, merchants who have been unable to expand their offering into the e-commerce space can expect to lose business to innovative and multi-channel competitors. The growth of e-commerce marketplaces, such as Souq and Noon, is encouraging increased confidence in buying online, which in turn is driving this growth. The UAE is also seeing a rapid rise in the use of e-commerce service providers like ride aggregators, who have delivered growth of 12 per cent, and food delivery services have seen a growth of over 100 per cent."
"For 2019, as we gear up towards Expo 2020, we are very optimistic about sustained growth in payments volume in the UAE," he added. "We have identified four key trends that we anticipate will drive transaction volumes: continued e-commerce growth, contactless gaining more traction via increased usage of digital wallets, cash-to-card conversion in segments like B2B payments, education, government, real estate and sustained increase in international spends."
Sanjit Gill, general manager, Middle East at Collinson, revealed that the evolving world of loyalty means that brands must continuously adapt and look for ways to meet their customers' needs. "Consumers shop through a mixture of in-store and online, providing data at every touchpoint in their browsing and purchasing journey. This data is there for retailers to respond to, providing it is collated into a single customer view. If used effectively, this single view can tell you who your customers are and what they want. If brands choose to ignore this data, however, they stand to lose out. Our research found that 81 per cent of UAE consumers feel frustrated when promotions aren't aligned in-store and online. Not using available data effectively can leave customers feeling uncherished and as though their custom isn't a priority."
In addition, 78 per cent of UAE consumers would be unhappy if retail brands they were loyal to had poor communication around the latest promotions and discounts. "Brands have a duty of service to offer better, more personalised communication experiences with the customer data they accrue, otherwise they risk people opting out of consent and losing their initial attention, and perhaps in the long term, their loyalty," he said.
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