While online retail sales presently in the UAE lag behind global averages, there are several factors pointing to a rapid future growth. The nation’s high personal income levels, Internet connectivity and developed infrastructure, along with recent investment in B2C E-Commerce auger well for rapid growth in the near future. The report cites authoritative forecasts of a more than a 100% increase in sales by 2021 compared to 2017.
Online shopping trends such as mobile shopping and purchasing from abroad are among the movements that are helping to overcome the preference for brick and mortar shopping in the UAE. Around 90% of the population have Internet access and smartphone penetration is high, according to the research.
Souq.com, the largest domestic online merchant was acquired last year by Amazon.com, giving the global operator a large share of sales in the UAE. But traditional store based retailers are rising to the challenge of Amazon’s domination by improving the online shopping experience for their customers.
Questions Answered in this Report
- What is the current state and the prospects of B2C E-Commerce in the UAE?
- How large were the online retail sales in the UAE in 2017?
- What are the most important E-Commerce market trends in the UAE?
- What are the main online shopping patterns of consumers in this country?
- Who are the leading players on the online retail market in the UAE?
1. Management Summary
2. Overview & International Comparisons
B2C E-Commerce Market Overview and International Comparisons, January 2018
UAE’s Share of B2C E-Commerce Sales in the GCC, in %, 2017e
Retail E-Commerce Sales in the UAE Compared to Saudi Arabia and Other GCC Countries, in USD billion, 2015 – 2020f
Internet Penetration in the UAE, in % of Individuals, Compared to Selected Countries in MENA, 2016
Smartphone Penetration in the UAE, in % of Adults, Compared to Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, March 2017
Devices Used to Access the Internet, in % of Adults, March 2017
Shopping-Related Activities Carried Out Online, in % of Individuals, H2 2016
Share of Online Shoppers Who Purchased via Smartphone, in %, October 2016
Share of Internet Users Definitely Willing to Use or Already Using Retailer App or Loyalty Program Mobile Apps, in %, November 2016
Share of Online Purchases from Overseas Vendors, in % of All Online Purchases, 2016
Breakdown of Online Shoppers by Domestic Shoppers Only, Domestic and Cross-Border Shoppers, and Cross-Border Shoppers Only, in %, October 2016
Product Categories Purchased in Cross-Border Online Shopping, in % of Cross-Border Online Shoppers in the UAE, October 2016
Top Reasons for Buying From Top 3 Foreign Markets, in % of Online Shoppers in the UAE Buying From the Respective Market, October 2016
4. Sales & Shares
Retail E-Commerce Sales, in USD billion, 2015 – 2020f
E-Commerce Sales, by Airline Tickets, Retail, Entertainment, and Travel, in USD billion, 2015 & 2016
B2C E-Commerce Sales, in AED billion, 2016, 2017 & 2021f
B2C E-Commerce Share of Total Retail Sales, in %, 2015 & 2016
5. Users & Shoppers
Internet Penetration, in % of Individuals, 2011 - 2016
Online Shopper Penetration, in % of Internet Users, 2015 & 2016
Breakdown of Preferred Channels for Shopping, by In-Store and Online, in % of Consumers, January 2017
Breakdown of Frequency of Shopping Online, in % of Respondents, 2016
Average Number of Online Purchases per Year, Compared to Global Average and the Middle East and Africa Average, 2016
Average Online Spending Per Purchase, in USD, Compared to Global Average and the Middle East and Africa Average, 2016
Breakdown of Average Monthly Spending on Online Purchases and Payments, in % of Customers Who Shop or Pay Online, 2016 & 2017e
Product Categories Purchased Online, in % of Online Shoppers, 2016
Top Product Categories Purchased Online, in % of Online Shoppers, 2016
Breakdown of Willingness to Use Services for Ordering Groceries Digitally for Home Delivery, in % of Internet Users, 2016
B2C E-Commerce Sales of Electronics, in AED billion, 2016 & 2017e
Breakdown of Payment Methods Preferred in Online Shopping, in % of Online Shoppers, 2016
Share of Consumers Who Believe That Retailers They Shop at Deploy Payment Security Tools to Prevent Fraud, by Retailers and Online Retailers, in %, 2016
Retailers’ Perceptions of Customers’ Attitude to E-Commerce Delivery, in % of Respondents, October 2017
Share of Online Shoppers Who Believe Click & Collect Is Important, in %, Compared to the Regional Average, 2016
B2C E-Commerce Players Overview, January 2018
Market Share of Amazon and Souq in B2C E-Commerce, in %, 2015 & 2016
Top 5 Online Shopping Websites, incl. Total Number of Visits, in millions, UAE’s Share of Total Visits, in %, Average Visit Duration, Pages Per Visit and Bounce Rate, December 2017
B2C E-Commerce Sales in The UAE to Double by 2021
B2C E-Commerce sales currently account for only a small one-digit share of the total retail market in the UAE, but are projected to more than double by 2021. According to this research, the country’s developed infrastructure, high disposable incomes and Internet connectivity rates, coupled with recent investments of retailers and venture capitalists into E-Commerce, are expected to drive online retail sales at double-digit growth rates over the next few years.
With nine in ten individuals having Internet access and a high smartphone penetration rate, consumers in the UAE are well equipped to embrace E-Commerce. Although online shopper penetration has grown over the past several years, three-quarters of UAE’s population still prefer brick-and-mortar stores over digital shopping channels, according to this recent survey. Nevertheless, online retail sales remain on the growth path spurred by evolving market trends such as mobile shopping and crossborder E-Commerce. More than 50% of online shoppers in the UAE purchase via smartphones, and a high double-digit share of Internet purchases is made on foreign ECommerce venues.
Several domestic and foreign players made substantial investments in this growing market as this report reveals. Among them, Amazon.com acquired the country’s largest E-Commerce platform Souq.com in 2017, boosting its market share. Multiple store-based retailers improved their online offerings, while also a new market player, Noon.com, has emerged to challenge the incumbents with a USD 1 billion investment.