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UAE shoppers are in no mood to pay for shipping costs, even if they ant same-day delivery, finds new poll. Image Credit: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio

Dubai: An ecommerce portal providing all the info about a product or service upfront may not be enough to convince shoppers in the UAE to buy from it. In fact, nearly 80 per cent of those using a portal to browse or research will likely end up buying the same elsewhere, according to a new survey.

What this means is that first portal where the consumer starts the journey towards buying something is losing out on a potential sale. Despite doing all the initial hard work with providing the specs, the price, and other options. Clearly, loyalty of consumers is not going to be an easy catch.

In fact, convincing UAE consumers is a hard sell, according to a survey by CNNB Solutions, a direct-to-consumer firm. Because if ecommerce portals are not willing to offer free shipping coupled to an easy policy on returns, then too consumers will shy away from a purchase.

“Returns are an important problem for brands, as the cost of returns, refunds and waste need to be reduced to the minimum,” said Nicolas Bruylants, Co-founder of CNNB Solutions. “The process can be well-managed by having more control over the customer journey through a strongly curated brand website, accurate product descriptions, and immersive user experiences. Through an effective fulfilment centre, technology and procedures, returns can become another valuable touchpoint in the buyer’s journey.”

So, how much will you be spending online this year?

According to retail industry sources, returns continue to be an issue when it comes to ecommerce operators trying to clock in profits. The cost and time lost elements associated with returns eat into profit margins that were never too healthy in the first place.

Of the overall $5 billion in spending on online shopping in the UAE last year, around 30 per cent ended up as returns. In plain numbers, that would mean these ecommerce businesses would be processing $1.5 billion in returns each year – and which would further slow down their chances at striking profitability.

UAE consumers will not budge on delivery timelines too – a majority prefer same-day delivery over the next-day or two-day timelines. A clear majority of those polled also did not want to spend on shipping costs - “Shoppers want their ordered products rapidly, but they don’t want to pay for the privilege,” according to the report.

Staying online for more

In another survey, this one by Pattern, 74 per cent of online shoppers in the UAE are inclined to spend more this year as against only 6 per cent who said they would curb it. With online marketplaces getting more adventurous on pricing with each season and promotion, more categories are drawing in a wider swathe of buyers. Plus, the UAE is seeing new residents setting up homes, and the majority of them are younger and tend to be pick up their needs online.

According to the Pattern survey, ‘more respondents expected to purchase online this year from Amazon or noon than other online retailers for every major product category, including fashion, consumer electronics, home and kitchen and beauty’.

In the consumer electronics category, Amazon and noon will lock in most of the online purchases, according to the survey, while only 14 per cent expect to buy online from retailers with both stores and a website. This pattern is mirrored in other categories.

What UAE shoppers want as priority:

Fast delivery: 39 per cent of online shoppers want products delivered the next-day or quicker, while 20 per cent want products delivered to them the same day they order it.

Choices: 94 per cent of UAE online shoppers polled reported purchasing from at least one Amazon site in the last 12 months including 83 per cent who had bought from the marketplace’s local site. “One reason is likely the strong take-up of Prime membership to get fast and free delivery,” says the Pattern report.

Purchasing cross-border: 89 per cent of those polled stated that they had purchased a product online that was delivered from another country during 2021.