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Will new e-commerce concepts change our online experiences?

Online shopping in the Middle East

For most of us, shopping online isn't something we do on a daily basis, unlike our counterparts elsewhere, writes Alex Malouf.

May 26, 2013 11:38 by

By Alex Malouf

This year is shaping up to be one of change for the region’s e-commerce sector. What’s attracted my attention is a number of companies that are looking to make e-commerce more accessible to brands based in the region, as well as companies from outside of the Middle East.

The first concept, championed by Tejuri, aims to provide brands with a virtual space for promoting their products online. Nicknamed the UAE’s online mall and supported by Dubai’s Department of Economic Development (DED), Tejuri aims to provide retailers with an online sales platform and do away with the headache of them having to develop their own website and set up payment and supply chain solutions to get the product over to the consumer.

Tejuri’s consumer value-add is that all of the retailers registered with and present on the site are listed with DED and present in Dubai, which, Tejuri argues, will provide consumers with reassurance about the levels of service that the website and hosted retailers can and will provide.

Another approach is being pioneered in this region by a firm called MENA-360. The company, which recently set up operations in Dubai, aims to develop a branded online presence for retailers. In essence, what MENA-360 does is create and populate the online shell, while provide the financial and supply chain support. Companies based outside of the region don’t have to deal with the legal issues of setting up a local entity and activating online payment. Essentially, what MENA-360 is doing is e-commerce made easy, and if it empowers more foreign brands to sell locally online then I’m all for it.

At the end of the day, there’s a great deal of talk about e-commerce, but I still don’t feel that we’ve reached the tipping point. For most of us, shopping online isn’t something that we do on a daily basis unlike our counterparts in Europe, America or Asia.

There’s a handful of names in the region who’ve done a great job to drive traffic online, the likes of Dubizzle and, but more often than not I’ll buy online from another part of the globe simply because I cannot find what I want online locally, pay for it with a Middle East-issued credit or debit card and get it shipped to my address in the Gulf.

What we need is a new concept or concepts to get more brands into the region, to cut the red tape and to make it easier for more companies to sell online locally. I’ll be cheering on the good people at Tejuri and MENA-360 in the hope that they’ll change my online shopping experience.

A British national with Arabic roots, Alex has spent ten years in the Gulf and has lived in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. Alex lost his heart to journalism years ago, but he has worked with a range of multinational companies in the technology, energy and financial sector to develop marketing and communications approach to the region. He’s currently based in Dubai but calls Bahrain home.


1 Comment

  1. chaz on May 27, 2013 5:42 am

    yes wish there were more offerings, but this will mature.
    The new way of shopping online with cashback programmes is far better. Look at the item you want, then go to them and get the discount. Everyone is a winner. Hope that comes sooner!


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