20/06/2017 01:43 AST

The Middle East’s retailers need to invest in mobile shopping platforms and secure sites to boost online sales, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Earlier this year, PwC released its Total Retail Survey 2017 that interviewed more than 24,000 people in 30 countries, including 1,000 people in the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Among the key investment areas for Middle Eastern retailers are mobile shopping, social customer engagement, secure platforms, loyalty and showroom engagement, said PwC in its report Retail Disruption – What’s the outlook for the Middle East?

"The investment areas identified are critical for any retailers looking at their long-term retail strategy and they must quickly learn to develop omni-channels to ensure that both their online and offline strategies are not only aligned, but monetised," said Norma Taki, the retail and consumer partner at PwC Middle East, in a statement.

In the region, there has been a jump in consumers who shop monthly online – from to 29 per cent of the respondents interviewed last year, up from 23 per cent in 2013, the report said.

PwC conducted the survey in March last year. About 36 per cent of those surveyed between ages 18 and 24 shop online monthly compared to 13 per cent of those aged 55 years and above, it said.

The online retail landscape in the UAE has become attractive, with some high-profile acquisitions such as Amazon buying up Souq.com in March for about US$650 million, and s technology fund led by the Emaar Properties’ chairman, Mohamed Alabbar, buying JadoPado.com in May. Mr Alabbar said in May that plans to launch his online marketplace Noon.com are on track.

Lower prices, product selection and convenience of shopping online are encouraging consumers to move online and forcing retailers into one of the most competitive landscapes in decades, according to the PwC report Retail Disruption – what’s the outlook for the Middle East?

As with mobile devices picking up popularity as purchasing tools, retailers need to design "mobile sites that can be easily navigated to make online mobile shopping an effortless and enjoyable experience", according to the report.

About 56 per cent of the online shoppers use their mobile device for shopping. Price comparison and reviews about products and retailers were the most common activities involving mobile shopping.

With social media gaining in popularity as a platform for shopping experience, 52 per cent of the respondents said they use it to read product reviews.

Secure platforms for shopping are among the top concerns for online shoppers, with 60 per cent of the consumers shopping online at using websites they think they can trust, the report said.

Trust and attractive prices drove consumer loyalty online. When it comes to luxury items, the consumers prefer to buy in-store rather than online, according to PwC. About 42 per cent of the respondents want to touch the products before spending the cash.


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