UAE has smoothest shopping journeys of any country: PYMNTS-Visa Cybersource Study

  • Consumers globally are using digital features to enhance shopping journeys, with the UAE leading in rapid digital adoption.
  • UAE has the highest Global Digital Shopping Index (GDSI) score, indicating seamless shopping and payment experiences.
  • 94% of the UAE's 3.1 million adult shoppers used at least one digital shopping feature in their recent retail journey.
  • UAE shoppers utilize 13 digital features from the merchant they last purchased from, just behind India's 16 and ahead of the U.S., the U.K., and Brazil.
  •  Preferred payment methods, rewards, and free shipping are vital features that UAE consumers desire from retailers, more so than consumers in most other countries.

Dubai, UAE – 2 August 2023 - A recent survey conducted by PYMNTS and Visa Cybersource has revealed that UAE shoppers continue to be the most mobile-centric and omnichannel consumers globally. The study, titled "The 2023 Global Shopping Index: UAE Edition," focuses on consumer behavior and preferred payment methods to provide retailers with actionable insights to be successful in the UAE market.

The UAE consumers’ penchant for digital shopping is a truism that local merchants know well. Retailers in the UAE offer far more of the digital shopping features that consumers want. In fact, the UAE has the highest Global Digital Shopping Index (GDSI) score among all countries surveyed, indicating that local merchants offer seamless shopping and payment experiences. The country's eCommerce merchants scored 134, significantly higher than the average score of 125 across all countries. The UAE's GDSI scores have also increased over time, with local merchants scoring 11% higher in 2022 than they did in 2021, thanks to rising consumer awareness of available features such as online purchases and price matching.

The survey, which involved 13,349 consumers and 3,124 merchants across Brazil, India, Mexico, UAE, United Kingdom, and United States, unearthed several key findings that highlight the unique characteristics of the UAE market. 

Salima Gutieva, Vice President and UAE Country Manager – Visa, emphasized the importance of catering to the needs of mobile-centric shoppers. "We are thrilled to see the UAE emerging as a leading country where consumers embrace and utilize digital shopping features with utmost enthusiasm. With the highest global digital shopping index score, it is evident that local merchants have successfully crafted seamless shopping and payment experiences for their customers." Gutieva added: "The fact that 94% of adult UAE shoppers have incorporated at least one digital feature during their recent shopping journey highlights the strong digital adoption in the market. As we witness this growing trend, Visa remains committed to partnering with UAE merchants to optimize their offerings and continue meeting the evolving needs of tech-savvy consumers."

Key findings from the survey include:

UAE consumers like shopping online because they believe the deals and experiences are better.  

  • UAE consumers prefer online shopping because of free shipping (50% of the respondents), better prices (44%) and an easy checkout process (43%). 
  • In contrast, the ability to obtain products immediately and find them quickly are important factors for consumers when shopping in-store, although it is less important for UAE shoppers than it is for other countries. Only 40% of those who prefer physical stores in the UAE consider immediate availability as essential, which is lower than the 54% and 53% averages in the U.S. and U.K., respectively.

Nearly twice as many UAE shoppers value payment choice than rewards or free shipping when selecting a merchant.  

  • UAE shoppers value payment choice most when choosing a merchant, with nearly double the importance of rewards or free shipping. When asked to pick one option only, preferred payment methods, in particular, was the top preference for 11.4% of consumers in the UAE, followed by rewards (6.9%) and free shipping (6.6%).

UAE shoppers use mobile phones as their shopping sidekick — especially when shopping in-store. 

  • Mobile shopping is highly prevalent in the UAE, with 28% of consumers making their most recent retail purchase on their smartphones — the highest in any country, second only to India. 
  • Both men and women shop on mobiles, with 33% of women and 27% of men making purchases exclusively from their phone. 
  • UAE consumers also use their smartphones to enhance their in-store shopping experience. Men, at 55%, are more likely than women — 45% — to use their smartphones to enhance their in-store shopping journeys.

UAE merchants recognize the importance of digital shopping features and offer consumers smoother shopping experiences than other country. 

  • UAE consumers use more digital shopping features than consumers in any other country, with 94% having used at least one during their most recent shopping journey. 
  • Merchants’ investments in digital shopping features and local shoppers’ keen awareness of those offerings make for a powerful combination. UAE merchants’ broad array of digital shopping features, including those that consumers can use in-store, has helped provide their shoppers with the smoothest overall shopping experience of any country in our study.
  • Our research uncovered an overall increase in consumers’ awareness of which shopping features local merchants offer. Consumers appear to be more on the lookout for cost-saving features than they have been in the past. Fifty-one percent more local consumers were aware of coupons, promo codes or rewards in 2022 than in 2021. We also found that shoppers in the UAE tend to overestimate how many features merchants offer.

To learn more about which mobile- and digital-first shopping features merchants must provide to gain traction in the UAE market, download the report.

About The 2023 Global Digital Shopping Index

The 2023 Global Digital Shopping Index is the third annual study of consumers and merchants by PYMNTS. The Index is based on census-balanced surveys of 13,349 consumers, with more than 1,500 consumers surveyed in each of the studied markets — Brazil, India, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. It is also based on surveys of merchants from each of the markets — 3,124 merchants in total. Data was collected on merchants generating annual revenues in the range of less than US$ 1 million to more than US$ 1 billion.