By Joanna Perry | Global Head of Marketing

Ten Dubai online grocery players have been assessed by global digital consultancy Practicology against a set of global best practice criteria for selling food online.

The findings highlight how much more Dubai online grocery services and others in the GCC region could be doing to provide an excellent online experience, customer service and delivery experience to their customers; as well as examples of best practice.

The best performing Dubai online grocery service in the research scored 51% against the criteria. In comparison, when we conducted the same analysis for UK online-only grocer Ocado it scored 80%, showing that there is significant room for improvement among its peers in the UAE.

We also analysed the two largest marketplaces in the region selling ambient food items – Souq and Noon – against the relevant criteria that we have judged the online grocers on.

Souq scored particularly well; and has developed a customer experience and proposition for ambient that could see it positioned for broader success were it to launch Amazon’s Fresh or Pantry services in the region.

Online grocery UX benchmarks

The Dubai Online Grocery Report 2019 highlights benchmarks that all online grocers in the region should be working towards if they want to delight consumers. These include:

Payment methods – Only half of the 10 online grocers give customers the option of paying for an order online or offline; though cash on delivery and card on delivery are both demanded by customers in the region.

Delivery convenience – 30% of online grocers offer a bookable one-hour delivery slot, and a further 30% offer a two-hour delivery slot. Convenience is king, and we would recommend retailers offer a one-hour slot with a delivery infrastructure that prioritises punctuality.

Delivery service – The best retailers offer punctual delivery to the customer’s front door by a friendly delivery driver, with branded packaging and product separated into ambient, fresh and frozen produce. However, only half the retailers delivered within the timeslot we had booked. 

One retailer delivered 1 hour and 50 minutes later than the promised one-delivery slot.

Product information – In addition to product ingredients and descriptions, there are other key pieces of data that help consumers to assess products. Only 30% provided nutritional and allergen information about products stocked, and only 20% indicated the likely product use-by date/lifespan of the food items they were selling.

Product information generated by customers – product ratings and reviews – are also valuable to other customers trying to decide which products to buy. Although 60% of the retailers have ratings and review functionality on their site, we found that there was very little actual review content available.

Onsite search – 70% of the grocers surveyed provide search boxes with predictive technology to autocomplete the search term and get customers to the result they want more quickly.

However, only 20% allow customers to refine their search results by customer rating, and only one (10%) allows results to be refined by dietary requirements. None allow search results to be refined by use-by date or price per gram.

As site search tends to be used more on grocery websites than other types of ecommerce sites, great search and filtering functionality is crucial to delivering a great overall site experience.

Customer service – There was substantial room for improvement in the customer service offered by the retailers, both in terms of the variety of ways customers can contact them and the time taken to respond.

40% did not respond to an email enquiry, and a further 10% did not offer email support at all. 30% responded to our email enquiry within one hour, and further 20% responded within four hours. The quickest email response we received came 10 minutes after our query was sent, and one retailer offered customer service via email, Live Chat or WhatsApp. 

Practicology’s Managing Director for MENA David Quaife said of the report findings:

“There are some clear recommendations to online grocery retailers from this research that they should take notice of. We have seen the online grocery sector heating up this year, and established players need to stay on top of the competition both from start-ups and marketplaces. 

There is best practice for providing an excellent customer experience at every stage of the buying journey. We hope that our research provides inspiration and advice to online grocers in the region as they continue to evolve.”

Each retailer was reviewed on criteria related to its site usability and content, payment methods offered, customer service, delivery proposition and delivery service. The 10 retailers reviewed were: Aswaaq, Carrefour, Choithrams, El Grocer, Instashop, Kibsons, Lulu, Quality Food, Supermart and Trolley. In addition, we reviewed marketplaces Noon and Souq against the criteria that were relevant to their models.

You can download the full report at: www.practicology.com/uae/OnlineGrocery 

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