Commerce in the UAE, by Reprise Digital’s Stuart Mackay

A considerable amount of time and effort is necessary to meet the demands of digital shoppers, writes Reprise’s general manager, Stuart Mackay. But the investment is worth it.

The UAE is no stranger to e-commerce, given it has the highest smartphone penetration rate globally at 83 per cent and website penetration sits at an impressive 95 per cent (according to Statista). This continues to present a huge amount of opportunity for brands that are not yet utilising e-commerce effectively, or for brands that already have an e-commerce presence, to really focus on improving their consumers’ overall experience.

With no visible end in sight to the Covid-19 pandemic and footfall across retail declining in general, there really is no excuse for brands not to be providing an optimal online experience for shoppers. After all, if the key reasons for online shopping reside around convenience, experience and pricing, and your brand is not able to offer these through online and mobile channels, then quite simply your customers will be shopping elsewhere. Remember, just because your e-commerce platform offers a responsive site doesn’t mean you are providing a great mobile experience. 53 per cent of consumers will abandon any site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.


The maturity of the region and diversity of its population drive a level of expectation that most regional businesses, in reality, are failing to meet. The effort and investment that goes into selling in-store needs quickly to be adapted and reflected through online and mobile channels.

A significant amount of time and investment is required to continually meet the demands of your digital shoppers, and undertaking this alone is an extremely daunting prospect, considering everything that needs to be in place to attract, delight, convert and retain consumers. Brands must consider everything, including: finding the right products to sell; attracting the right customers; generating targeted traffic; capturing quality leads; nurturing prospective clients; and converting and retaining customers. It is no wonder most brands struggle to tie everything up into a connected e-commerce experience for their consumers.


Success in e-commerce is challenging but we have to remain bold and aggressive in these current times and continue to evolve, diversify and create simple, meaningful and personalised shopping experiences for our consumers. The world as we knew it has changed, and I suspect our new normal will be very different.

With an estimated 73 per cent of e-commerce sales expected to take place on a mobile device by the end of 2021 and the continued technological advancements affecting e-commerce, such as AI and AR, voice search, on-site personalisation and chatbots, brands simply need to face into the extent of the challenge.


Absolutely sweat the small stuff, focus on the basics and do them well. Hygiene plays a huge factor in conversion, and ensuring that your brand is represented in the right away across all channels is crucial.

If you don’t already have detailed insight into your online and mobile channels then make this a priority.

If you don’t know what is going on and what the customer is actually experiencing when using your e-commerce channels, then you are driving in the dark with the lights off.

Understand and leverage your data to create personalised shopping experiences for your shoppers. Showing that you know, understand and appreciate your customers will help with retention and attraction.

Invest in enhancing or developing your mobile experience for consumers. With 73 per cent of e-commerce sales expected to be through mobile by the end of 2021, this should be an immediate priority.

Ensure your customers’ experience is the same when interacting with your brand through any commerce channel. There is nothing worse for a customer when online and offline channels aren’t integrated. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to return in-store a product purchased online?

Keep the checkout process simple by providing easy-to-use payment tools such as Apple Pay, Paypal or other options that enable a frictionless checkout.

Embrace technology such as AI, AR and chatbots. Run proofs-of-concept regularly to see where these technologies can be used to improve your shoppers’ overall experience.


We shouldn’t be afraid to embrace change and strive for e-commerce excellence, and brands certainly shouldn’t accept that good is good enough. The competition is ruthless, and simply accepting that you sell products online already and that you are making fairly good revenues, as a result, could be the undoing of your brand. With so much choice available to shoppers and the bar being continually raised across all industries, brands must find ways to evolve, simplify and personalise their consumers’ shopping experiences.