YouGov’s latest report titled ‘International Omni-Channel Retail Report 2021: Shopping in the pandemic and implications for the future’ has revealed that consumers in the UAE are more likely to adopt virtual or augmented reality compared to the Western Europe and the US.
While interest across categories is the highest in Mexico, large proportions in the UAE are likely to shop for clothes (53%) and technology or home appliances (46%) in the next 12 months using virtual reality tools.
However, overall data from the whitepaper revealed that less than 50% consumers claimed interest in using augmented or virtual reality for the purpose of shopping globally.
Looking at the general shopping habits of consumers, we found that brick-and-mortar and online channels are pervasive among shoppers around the globe, with an average penetration of 86% and 81%, respectively. Most consumers across the globe shop through both retail channels, with nearly three-quarters (74%), having made purchases through both channels in the past three months.
While both channels are well penetrated, the category of purchase varies. Brick-and-mortar continues to be the go-to method for purchasing everyday essential items such as food, drinks, toiletries and more. Conversely, online retail channels are the preferred channel for discretionary items such as shoes, clothing, and electronics.
Looking at the in-store penetration in the past 90 days, we see that the UAE has the highest proportion of people who in general have a preference to shop clothes at brick-and-mortar stores buying from these stores during this time (55%).
When it comes to motivations, the physical experience of a product is the biggest factor in wanting to shop at an offline store, followed by speed of purchase and the provision to try out things in store. While this is good news for retailers, it does not help much under the current restrictions and social distancing norms that dissuade them from shopping in person.
On the other hand, online retailers have benefited in the short term by addressing the challenges shoppers face in buying goods while also adhering to social distance restrictions. Home delivery is the number one motivational factor to buy online, followed by convenience. However, delivery charges and the inability to experience products stand as the biggest barriers for this medium.
Commenting on this, Adam Guiney, Director of Customer Experience at YouGov, said, “When looking at the data for the white paper, it was striking to see that despite the huge online retail boom during the pandemic, bricks and mortar retail is still more popular in many categories – for example textiles and clothing – and therefore has a great chance of rebounding; it is just a question of when. Our study aims to help outlets and brands understand the dynamics of the retail sector, which has never been shaken as much as it has been during the past year.
Understanding consumer needs and the interplay between bricks and mortar and online retail in meeting those needs will be key for brands and retailers to identify potential, overcome barriers and focus on opportunities.”