Even before the onset of COVID-19, the UAE was one of the most connected countries in the world, and the pandemic has accelerated the digitisation of everyday life, with strong growth in both remote digital purchases and proximate contactless digital payments. “Phy-gital,” which brings the online and offline environments together, is set to grow in importance in retail and foodservice during the forecast period.
In general, consumers in the UAE are less attached to cash than their counterparts in most other countries and have been more receptive to alternatives, ranging from contactless payment cards to digital wallets. The rate of adoption of these alternatives payment methods has been accelerated by COVID-19.
With the growth of internet use accelerating during 2020, some everyday activities rapidly shifted online. This has led e-commerce players to expand into new service areas, particularly where these complemented their existing offerings.
COVID-19 drove a shift from the physical world to the digital one during 2020, with basic human interaction increasingly virtualised. Friends and family communicated via text, voice and video using messaging services like WhatsApp and video conferencing apps like Zoom.
In-store automation will play a more important role the post pandemic shopping experience. More retailers in the UAE are expected to offer self-checkout, providing a mechanism for customers to complete their own transactions from a retailer without the need for a traditional staffed checkout.
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