The response from Covid-19 and the government has affected shopping behavior around the world. Therefore, understanding the dynamics that affect retail buyers is critical for retailers and brands
UAE residents are more open to the idea of using virtual and augmented reality shopping compared to several other markets around the world such as Western Europe and the United States, new research has shown.
According to YouGov’s latest report, “International Omni-Channel Retail Report 2021: Shopping The Pandemic And The Impact For The Future,” less than 50 percent of consumers worldwide said they were using this technology specifically for each shopping category. Among the 17 markets examined, interest in introducing virtual or augmented reality is higher in Asia, the United Arab Emirates and Mexico compared to Western Europe and the USA.
While the interest in the categories is highest in Mexico, in the UAE, large chunks of the UAE are likely to use virtual reality tools to search for clothing, technology, or home appliances in the next 12 months. The data also showed that both brick-and-mortar and online channels are widespread among shoppers around the world. Almost 75 percent have shopped through both channels in the past three months.
The investigation also found that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed shopping behavior and moved many shoppers online to meet their needs. Despite the relocation, many still want to shop through brick and mortar stores. This is especially true of certain categories like clothing. At 55 percent, the UAE has the highest proportion of people who generally prefer to shop in brick and mortar stores who shop in those stores during this time.
While both channels are well penetrated, the purchase category varies. Brick-and-mortar continues to be the number one choice for purchasing everyday items like groceries, beverages, toiletries, and more. Conversely, online retail channels are the preferred channel for discretionary items like shoes, clothing, and electronics.
“It was remarkable that despite the huge online retail boom during the pandemic, brick and mortar retail is still more popular in many categories – for example textiles and clothing – and therefore has a great chance of recovery. It’s just a matter of when, ”said Adam Guiney, YouGov’s director of customer experience. “Understanding consumer needs and how brick and mortar and online retailers interact to meet those needs will be critical for brands and retailers to identify potential, overcome obstacles and focus on opportunities.”
When it comes to motivations, the physical experience of a product is the biggest factor when looking to shop in an offline store, followed by the speed of the purchase and the opportunity to try things out in-store. While this is good news for retailers, it doesn’t help much under the current restrictions and social distancing norms that keep them from shopping in person.
On the flip side, online retailers have benefited in the short term from facing the challenges shoppers face when purchasing goods while complying with social distance restrictions. Home delivery is the number one motivator for online purchases, followed by convenience. However, shipping costs and the inability to experience products are the biggest barriers to this medium.