Savvy shoppers take their pick online in the UAE

Almost 90 per cent of UAE residents have made online purchases, according to an internet shopping survey.

Adorned by traditional henna hand tattoos, a young Emirati girl works on a computer during a computer science class, on Thursday morning, April 28, 2011, at the Butti Public School in Bani Yas. (Silvia R·zgov· / The National)

Almost 90 per cent of UAE residents have made online purchases, according to an internet shopping survey.

The retailer JadoPado questioned more than 2,000 people last month about their internet purchasing habits.

While the majority had bought at least one item online in the past 12 months, just 13.4 per cent had yet to shop over the internet.

Of those who had shopped online, the most common purchases were in consumer electronics and IT at 85 per cent, followed by travel and event tickets at 58 per cent and software and applications at 49 per cent.

The top consideration was pricing at 38 per cent, followed by quality of customer service at 37 per cent, ease of use of the website at 31 per cent, convenience and speed of delivery at 28 per cent and lastly, product selection at 26 per cent.

The inability to touch and test products and pricing were cited as the biggest barriers by those who had yet to buy online at 42 per cent, and 2 per cent said the process was too complicated.  About 19 per cent of those questioned said they did not intend to shop online in the next 12 months.

“A couple of things stood out,” said Omar Kassim, the founder of JadoPado, which carried out the research.

“One was pricing. One of the primary considerations was pricing. But I think the second thing that surprised me was that people are really after quality, good quality customer service as well. I didn’t expect it to rank that high.”

Beyond that, he said, the finding that half of respondents who shop online were willing to wait between one and three days for their purchases was interesting.

“We built our entire business around getting products to customers really quickly in order to be able to compete against physical retail,” added Mr Kassim.

But one of the most shocking survey findings for a fellow internet entrepreneur, Rabih Ghandour, the chief executive of, which went live last month, was the percentage of people who had never shopped online.

“I thought the number was much higher than 13 per cent,” he said.

Mr Ghandour’s company did its own research before launching, which sells design-oriented items sourced from around the world.

“While our research results weren’t very promising, it didn’t deter us from moving forward. We’re here to change the e-commerce spectrum, and we’re daredevils of sorts,” he added.