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5 top products businesses can sell online in the UAE

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers robust business potential in the Middle East. With a diverse population, strong purchasing power, and a thriving culture, it's a promising market for businesses worldwide. 

Trade between the UAE and Pakistan has also been growing steadily, reaching a total volume of US$5.36 billion in 2021, according to the Middle East Briefing — a remarkable 23% increase from the previous year. Additionally, bilateral trade between Pakistan and the UAE is projected to double in 2023 from the US$10.6 billion achieved in 2021-2022. Beyond that, ongoing negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) are expected to further boost trade and investment.

Adding to that, based on research by Kantar, UAE consumers were buying nearly 6% of all FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) products online in 2022. This goes to show that there are significant opportunities for businesses looking to establish an online presence in this dynamic market.

So, if you're considering expanding your business to the UAE, what products should you sell online?

Understanding consumer behaviour in the UAE

But first, it's important to understand the consumer behaviour trends that shape the UAE market. This is because demographics and psychographics play a significant role in determining what products will resonate with its consumer base.

1. Rising focus on health and well-being

To begin, research conducted by GfK, a prominent global market and consumer intelligence firm, underscores the rising focus on health and well-being within the UAE consumer base. This trend creates a fertile ground for businesses operating in the fitness and wellness sectors, offering them promising opportunities for growth and engagement. 

2. Trend on non-grocery retail experiences

Similarly, the same research indicates a rising trend among UAE consumers who partake in non-grocery shopping activities on a weekly basis. This underscores the growing importance of retail experiences that extend beyond essential purchases, presenting significant opportunities for businesses to engage with the UAE customer base.

3. Shift towards economic awareness and environmental consciousness

Notably, within the aforementioned GfK study, it emerged that 31% of the respondents voiced a clear inclination towards buying second-hand items instead of opting for new ones. Furthermore, a substantial 38% indicated a shift from well-known brand names to more budget-friendly alternatives. These findings underscore a noticeable surge in cost-consciousness and sustainability awareness among UAE consumers, prompting companies to explore innovative business models and embrace eco-friendly practices to meet these evolving preferences.

4. Diligent brand research before major purchases

Furthermore, the same research findings unveiled a distinctive aspect of UAE consumer behaviour. A noteworthy 48% of the surveyed individuals highlighted their commitment to in-depth brand research before committing to significant purchases. This underlines the paramount significance of cultivating brand credibility and trust among consumers in the UAE market, a factor that businesses should duly prioritise.

5. Rely on their smartphones as shopping companions

Moreover, mobile shopping has established a robust presence in the UAE. As per insights from PYMNTS, a notable 28% of local consumers conducted their latest retail transactions through their smartphones. This proportion surpasses that of most other countries, trailing only behind India. 

Furthermore, the gender dynamics within this trend are intriguing. In the UAE, women exhibit a higher likelihood of having completed a recent purchase entirely via their smartphones, while men demonstrate a greater tendency to utilise their smartphones to enrich their in-store shopping experiences, with statistics standing at 55% and 45%, respectively. 

These nuanced consumer behaviour patterns offer valuable insights that can assist businesses in tailoring their product offerings and refining their marketing strategies effectively within the UAE market.

What are the best products to sell online in the UAE?

But why sell products online in the UAE, you ask? 

With the UAE's e-commerce sector expected to generate AED17.2 billion in revenue by 2027, according to ZAWYA, businesses have a significant opportunity to tap into this growing market. 

For example, online sales in the MENA region surged by 25% in 2022, reaching AED25 billion in revenue, highlighting the immense potential for businesses to thrive in this digital landscape. Setting up your e-commerce business in a free zone like Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) can also provide access to advanced logistics and transportation infrastructure, facilitating expansion and profitability. 

Now, let's explore the top products that can help you make the most of this lucrative market.

1. Electronics 

Electronics emerges as a standout product category for successful online selling in the UAE. 

This diverse category encompasses a wide range of devices, including smartphones, computers, cameras, video game consoles, and more — all of which have become essential in our daily lives. The demand for electronics in the UAE remains consistently high due to perpetual technological advancements and the need for connectivity, entertainment, and productivity.

In terms of market potential, the global search growth for electronics has shown an impressive Year-over-Year (YoY) increase of 35.2%, according to GoDaddy. The global monthly search volume for electronics ranges from 2.2 million to 22 million searches, with the UAE contributing significantly with a monthly search volume of 22,000 to 220,000.

Given the tech-savvy population in the UAE and the growing interest in digital platforms for entertainment and sports, businesses in the electronics sector can seize substantial opportunities to connect with consumers through online platforms. For example, a significant portion of UAE consumers, around 33%, frequently engage in activities such as viewing live sports events on TV or through various streaming services, apps, or online platforms.

2. Modest fashion and beauty products

Modest fashion and beauty products encompass a diverse range of items, from clothing to makeup, skincare, and hair care products. 

The UAE's fashion and beauty market is a thriving hub, with a notable global search growth rate of 28.5% YoY. In addition, the monthly search volume for fashion and beauty products in the UAE ranges from 4,000 to 40,000, reflecting the substantial interest and potential within this dynamic sector.

Moreover, recent studies by GfK have unveiled insights into the significance of personal well-being and relaxation among UAE consumers. As a matter of fact, a noteworthy 42% of respondents expressed their desire for regular indulgence and self-pampering

These findings present a golden opportunity for brands and companies to align their offerings with the growing trend of self-care and personalised experiences, catering to the UAE's consumer base seeking moments of style and self-indulgence.

Beyond that, the UAE market has witnessed the emergence of several local brands from Pakistan that have made significant strides in the modest fashion and beauty sector. Brands such as AL Karam, Sana Safinaz, and Maria B have successfully carved out their niche, offering a blend of traditional and contemporary fashion that resonates with UAE consumers. 

And just recently, an exciting development in the world of modest fashion is the expansion of Pakistan's leading fashion brand, GulAhmed, into the international market. The brand has marked its presence by inaugurating its inaugural retail outlet in the UAE. 

GulAhmed's entry into the UAE market exemplifies the vast opportunities available for fashion brands to establish a strong foothold and cater to the diverse preferences of consumers in the region

3. Home appliances

In the realm of modern living, home appliances are the unsung heroes that seamlessly integrate into our daily routines. These versatile machines handle an array of household tasks, from cooking delectable meals to maintaining a spotless environment and preserving perishables.

Their demand remains unwavering, with periodic surges during specific seasons and promotional events. Data by GoDaddy shows a robust 30.1% YoY growth in global searches for home appliances, underscoring their enduring popularity. 

Moreover, a revealing study conducted in the UAE by GfK unveiled that an impressive 65% of respondents emphasised the importance of their homes as private havens for relaxation and rejuvenation. This highlights the significance of living spaces and opens up exciting opportunities for Pakistani brands and companies to cater to consumers' aspirations of elevating their homes.

4. Food and beverages

Food and beverage items, ranging from fresh produce to carefully packaged gourmet ingredients, have found a thriving market among online shoppers in the UAE.

This category encompasses a vast array of products, from everyday essentials to exquisite speciality items. Also, the convenience of online grocery shopping has fueled the demand for these delectable offerings.

With a significant YoY growth of 22.3% in global searches, it's evident that consumers are increasingly exploring digital avenues to satiate their appetites. This trend is mirrored in the UAE, with a substantial monthly search volume ranging from 20,000 to 200,000.

In fact, in the UAE, shoppers are allocating more of their budget to food products, witnessing a 5% growth in 2022, according to Kantar. This shift underscores the significance of this category, presenting an enticing opportunity for Pakistani businesses to tantalise taste buds and fulfil food cravings in the UAE market.

5. Perfumes 

Perfumes cater to both personal indulgence and gifting, making them a sought-after commodity in the online market. 

With a global YoY search growth of 21.7%, it's evident that perfumes are capturing the attention of discerning shoppers worldwide. Globally, the monthly search volume for perfumes ranges from 1.3 million to 13 million, reflecting their consistent popularity. In the UAE, a monthly search volume ranging from 13,000 to 130,000 underlines the allure of perfumes in this market. 

Some of the top-selling perfumes in Dubai that could very well make it to the top five list include Agent Provocateur Fatale Eau De Parfum For Women, Amouage For Men, and Angel Schlesser Femme, each offering unique scents with captivating chemistry. 

Therefore, if you think you have one of the top-selling perfumes with similar appeal, there's a thriving market in the UAE waiting to be explored.

Unlocking the UAE market: why should you sell here?

When considering the UAE market, it's essential to understand the customs duties and taxes involved when exporting products from Pakistan. 

Typically, customs duties amount to 5% of the goods' value, covering Cost, Freight, and Insurance. Additionally, the UAE offers de minimis benefits, with a duty de minimis of AED1000. If your shipment's value falls below this threshold, it may enter the country duty and tax-free, providing a competitive edge for your business. 

Unlocking opportunities with DHL Express

Did you know that UAE consumers are drawn to online shopping for its cost-effectiveness, convenience, and seamless checkout experiences? In fact, 50% of e-commerce shoppers in the UAE value free shipping as a major incentive.

With a diverse consumer base, robust e-commerce growth, and a penchant for online shopping, the UAE offers a promising landscape for businesses worldwide. However, successfully navigating this market requires a comprehensive understanding of consumer behaviour, product trends, and logistics, along with a reliable shipping partner like DHL Express.

To capitalise on these opportunities, businesses need a trusted logistics partner like DHL Express to ensure secure and efficient parcel delivery abroad. DHL Express provides a comprehensive range of international shipping services, including overseas shipping to the UAE, making it easier for businesses to sell products online in Dubai and other UAE regions.

DHL Express not only simplifies the shipping process but also ensures that your products are properly packaged for safe and secure transit.

Open a business account and trust DHL Express to help you unlock the full potential of selling products online in Dubai and across the UAE, ensuring your business's success in this dynamic market.