A status review of Online Shopping in the UAE

More than a quarter of all the customers in the Middle East (29%) now shop online nearly every month. They’re motivated by the accessibility of online shopping platforms, featured prices that are 40% lower than conventional stores, better selection of displayed products, and the convenience of shopping without leaving their homes.  

UAE tops all other Middle Eastern countries when it comes to online shopping. Based on the country’s penetration rate, around 99%, nearly the entire population of the country is using the internet. Out of this, at least 85% have searched the internet for a product, 91% have visited online shopping sites in the past month and at least 63% have made a purchase online. Both mobile and desktop users contribute equally to the total number of purchases.


Where the UAE stands in terms of online shopping

E-commerce spending in the UAE has seen a 50% growth in the previous year. It is set to see a record growth by the end of this year, expecting to be valued at an unprecedented $27.1 billion in 2022. Besides online shopping platforms in the UAE, e-commerce service providers have also seen significant growth; businesses such as aggregators who have witnessed a 12% increase and food delivery services that have grown by 100%.

A report issued by the Khaleej Times in December 2018 on the online shopping performance in UAE mentioned that the country is rated as the most advanced in the MENA region for online shopping.

Online retailing in the Emirates grew by 18.8% in 2018 compared to the previous year and is expected to witness a 13% compound growth by 2023.


What backs the growth of online shopping in the UAE

Online shopping business in UAE

There are a lot of factors powering this extraordinary growth of online shopping in the UAE. The widespread use of mobile devices with internet access capability is definitely one of the major contributors in the growth of e-commerce.

The modern infrastructural and technical implementations in the country have also paved the way for online shopping to grow. The UAE’s economic policy of supporting new businesses and encouraging entrepreneurship has played a significant role in boosting the e-commerce industry. This policy has created a fertile environment for online shopping businesses to flourish and grow.


Types of popular e-commerce products in UAE

Shopping delivery in UAE

Similar to global trends, electronics and software products account for the biggest share of online purchases at around 69%. They are by far the most popular products being bought online in the UAE. Clothing follows with 17%, and accessories with 14%. Airplane tickets and hotel reservations are also among the most purchased products on online shopping platforms in the country.

Online shopping in the domestic market is poised for further growth in the near future. More product categories are expected to trend online as traders are switching to digital markets and changing their promotional strategies to ensure performance on these platforms.

Also, with larger segments of audience joining the internet and making their presence felt on social media, more products are expected to be featured online that resonate with these new customers and meet their demands like car parts, furniture, and appliances.


How to market an e-commerce website

Promoting online shoppping platforms

Any online shopping platform can be financially successful when the marketing process is done right.

Meaningful Brands:

It all starts with creating a brand that has the ability to stand out and go the distance in one of the globes most crowded categories.  Being a well-versed advertising agency in Dubai as it is, Tonic works with its e-commerce clients such as The Deal Outlet to develop brands that flourish in the digital space, building evolution into their DNA.


User Experience:

It’s all about offering the maximum amount of data to users from the first glimpse and making sure it will trigger the right targeted interaction. In order to provide the best experience possible to e-commerce users, UX designers must first understand the users’ mindset, know what they are looking for exactly, and know their abilities. Tonic’s strategy for developing e-commerce websites is centered around UX study.  This is how we approach working with clients such as Binge.ae and Xcite.com.


Strong Creative:

With the constant evolution of e-commerce product feed plugin solutions such as Google Shopping; e-commerce businesses have one of the most diverse creative input options for any category, but without a strong brand identity and creative positioning, you end up looking like everyone else.  When Tonic develops campaigns for its e-commerce clients such as Namshi, our driving force is creativity – what makes this brand unique from all the others?


Responsive Digital Marketing:

In a nutshell, this starts with defining the main target audience, providing services and products that appeal to this audience, and reaching out to them through various online marketing channels.



Search engines make it easier for internet users to easily locate online traders and service providers, which makes SEO (Search Engine Optimization) an indispensable digital marketing channel for online shopping platforms either based in the UAE or anywhere else in the world.

Simply put, SEO is the process of modifying websites to make its pages rank in the top positions of the results pages for search queries relevant to the business.

We at Tonic believe in the power of SEO as we have experienced its viability on many websites including Xcite.com, a Kuwait-based shopping platform that witnessed record growth in sales and traffic after applying this optimization process. Our SEO procedures contributed in improving the website’s organic traffic and user engagement, which resulted in boosting its revenues.



Writing an informative blog that resonates with readers is definitely an effective and cost-efficient marketing channel to promote any e-commerce business.

Keeping a stream of well-written blogs tackling relevant and interesting topics will attract a lot of visitors who could become converted customers.

This process was applied ongoing with Xcite on its different subsidiary platforms in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Blogging succeeded in securing a constant growth in user acquisition rate and bolstering their brand’s presence online.


Paid Advertising:

Different forms of paid advertising are essential for new online shopping platforms in order to build a lasting presence and improve exposure.

Paid advertising has proven to give the highest conversion rate compared to other marketing channels. With design and user experience kept in check, paid ads can drive the biggest bulk of online-generated income, especially during the initial phase.