Retail shoppers in the Middle East are increasingly connected digitally to the shopping experience, using all channels – online, mobile, and in physical stores. Like other consumers around the world, shoppers in the region are looking for an increasingly omnichannel experience.

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We asked 2,700 shoppers what’s most important to them.

These Middle East shopping trends come from findings in the iVend Retail 2019 Global Shopper Survey. The fourth annual report is based on a survey of 2,750 shoppers in 11 countries around the world, which measured their attitudes and behaviours related to retail purchase decisions, along with global shopping trends.

In the Middle East, even when shoppers plan to purchase from a brick-and-mortar store, they first research online, or buy online and then pick up the item in the store. Below we’ve summarised other important Middle East shopping trends that emerged from the data in this region.

Mobile Commerce is Ascendant

The use of mobile devices has become an increasingly important Middle East shopping trend. According to the survey, 99% of shoppers report that they’ve browsed online before going into a store to make a purchase. Only 2% of shoppers claim to never have shopped on a mobile device while inside of a store shopping.

These shoppers also hope to see more functionality in their mobile shopping experience. When asked about new technology, 59% said that an augmented reality (AR) interface from a retailer to preview products on their mobile device would motivate them to shop with a retailer.

Click and Collect Provides Flexibility

A true omnichannel shopping requires integration of those multiple channels, and shoppers in the Middle East are embracing the convenience of being able to buy a product online and pick it up at a physical store. According to the findings, 98% of shoppers have tried click and collect. Their top reasons for doing so include:

  • 57% – Picking up purchases on same day

  • 55% – Avoiding shipping charges

  • 54% – Saving time by not having to shop in a store

While those shoppers are in the store, shoppers want to see a more connected and convenient experience. At brick-and-mortar locations, Middle Easterners want sales associates to be as connected as they are, using mobile devices like tablets to provide customer service. According to the survey, 94% said they look for store employees with a handheld device.

The top customer service issues they would like these mobile store associate to be able to help them with include:

  • 65% – Checkout and payment processing

  • 59% – Having items and shipped to them directly

  • 54% – Checking inventory and product availability at other store locations

Loyalty Programs Drive Sales

Worldwide, iVend found that effective loyalty programs are driving sales both in the store and online, making loyalty at the top of the list of Middle East shopping trends. According to the survey, 53% of consumers shop to earn loyalty points or rewards at least half of the time.

The top three reasons they gave to participate in loyalty programs included:

  • 84% – Earn discounts and free items

  • 59% – Get exclusive product updates and information

  • 38% – Obtain access to VIP events and other benefits

Shoppers also want to integrate their mobile shopping experience with the loyalty program, with 45.2% saying they prefer to manage their loyalty membership through an app on their phone.

Mobility and an integrated omnichannel shopping experience will be critical for retailers to remain competitive in the Middle East. According to the latest Middle East shopping trends, retailers should develop processes that cater to the preferences of those shoppers, including having a loyalty program or implementing a click and collect at the store option for online orders.

Integration is the key. Make sure your inventory systems, customer databases, loyalty programs, and other solutions are integrated on the back end so that employees will have access to all accurate, real-time inventory data and shopper information, and can then provide better customer service both at the checkout stand and on the sales floor with a mobile point of sale device.

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