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Dubai: More than half of online shoppers in the UAE use the internet to buy airline tickets, book hotels and shop for home appliances, according to a recent survey conducted by MasterCard.

The Online Shopping Behaviour Survey was based on the interviews of 3,000 respondents from six countries across the Middle East — UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Lebanon.

The survey, which measures consumers’ tendency to shop online, was carried out at the end of 2013, and released in 2014.

Figures from the study showed that over 50 per cent of those surveyed indicated they access the internet for online shopping of which more than 80 per cent said they were highly satisfied with their online shopping experience.

While consumers continue to purchase online items with caution, the trend of online shopping is steadily increasing in the UAE.

Souq, the largest e-commerce site in the Arab world, was identified as the most commonly visited website for online shopping by nearly half the respondents. The online deal websites Cobone and Groupon followed as the next two most popular websites in the UAE with 20 per cent.

Mobile shopping

The most popular purchases online are airline tickets followed by travel-related products, books, electronics and clothing. A similar trend was seen in consumer’s shopping habits using their mobile phones.

The survey showed that the UAE has one of the world’s highest smartphone penetration rates, making smart phones a new tool for online shopping. The top three items purchased through smart phones are airline tickets, mobile apps and coupons or deals, according to the survey.

Consumers in the UAE said that the availability of an increasing number of mobile apps and the ability to shop on the go are the top two reasons they use their phone for online shopping.

While other items purchased online include movie tickets, clothing and other fashion accessories, numbers showed that magazines and newspaper subscriptions are the least mobile-purchased category.

Reputation and security

Online shopping decisions among UAE consumers mainly depend on the reputation of a website, security of payment, and delivery charges.

When asked how online shopping could be improved in future, nearly 60 per cent of respondents voted for free or minimal delivery charges as the most preferred improvement. Elimination of additional service charges and complete assurance of security of online transactions emerged as the next most popular suggestions.

The progression of mobile shopping in the UAE is likely to continue as more websites focus on enhancing their safety and security features on their websites. While the shopping experience online is safe, quick and convenient, the cash on delivery policy is another emerging trend that is welcomed by customers.