Shopping on social apps is on the rise in the UAE

Anne Freer | December 1, 2023

App Business

While social media is not playing a dominant role in online shopping in Western markets (yet), a new study shows that it has caught on in the UAE. Let’s explore.

Social media usage

According to the RetailX Middle East Ecommerce Region 2023 report, many people in the Middle East use social media, with Qatar having nearly 98% of its population on at least one platform.

TikTok is gaining popularity rapidly, while Facebook and Instagram’s reach for advertisers is declining.

In Turkey, TikTok ads reach about 75% of the population, and Facebook has around 32.8 million users. However, Facebook’s advertising reach dropped by 4.7% in 2022-2023, while TikTok’s increased by 12.4%.

Countries with fastest mobile and app shopping growth

Source: RetailX

In the UAE, people are active on social media, spending almost three hours a day. They use it to research products, with 79% looking for brands or things to buy. UAE consumers are also into social commerce, with 59% saying they’ve purchased through social media in the past year.

Growing social commerce

Social commerce is expected to grow as more people shop online, especially using mobile devices. The market is predicted to increase by 35% in 2023, reaching $1,338 million in Saudi Arabia alone. New players like live streaming platforms are entering the market, trying to attract retailers, brands, and shoppers.

Shopping devices

Source: RetailX

One such platform is Hoods, which combines shopping and entertainment. Content creators can tag products, turning them into shoppable links within videos. This trend is driven by younger generations who seek entertainment and interaction in their online shopping experiences.

Customer services are also using social media, with brands using chatbots and platforms like WhatsApp to handle customer inquiries efficiently.

Key takeaways

  • In the UAE, social media is a dominant force in online shopping, with nearly three hours spent daily. 79% use it for product research, and 59% have made purchases via social platforms
  • TikTok is rapidly gaining popularity, with ads reaching 75% of the Turkish population. Facebook’s advertising reach has declined by 4.7% in 2022-2023
  • Social commerce is on the rise, with a projected 35% growth in 2023, reaching $1,338 million in Saudi Arabia alone. Innovative platforms like Hoods are combining shopping and entertainment to cater to younger generations. Customer service is also leveraging social media for efficient inquiries

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