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E-commerce: So hot right now
It’s seems to be on everyone’s lips: E-commerce. Internet retail. Online sales. Whatever you want to call it, it is set to explode in the region. Kipp takes a look.
August 4, 2010 4:18 by Sam Potter
It’s a trend that would be hard to miss in the business pages lately: everyone is looking to e-commerce.
Up until 2007 and early 2008, businesses in the region didn’t worry about it. Why would they? Business was booming, shoppers were plentiful and disposable income even more so. The focus for retailers was on physical expansion, on staking out a claim in the lucrative new mall developments springing up across a fast growing economy. Who had time for computers?
Then, the slowdown hit. Expansion plans went on the backburner, and life became about survival rather than ambition. Once again, online presence was a low priority, only this time it was because companies couldn’t afford the cost and time, not because they wouldn’t spare it.
Fast forward to 2010, and as regional economies take a few tentative steps toward recovery, retailers seem to have had an epiphany. They can expand into the online sphere at relatively little cost and reap the benefits of an under-served, eager audience, and the advancements on infrastructure set to take place in the region’s telecoms in the coming years.
That, at least, is Magrudy’s thinking. The UAE-based bookseller is to launch an online store within a year, according to the National. Not only that, but to its stable of 35,000 available titles it plans to add e-books to the virtual shelves.
“I think there is a paradigm shift in terms of customer preferences,” said Jeremy Brinton, the retailer’s chief executive. “There is a greater adoption by customers of e-content, e-books … it is very important for us to embrace this paradigm shift.”
According to the article, last year UAE consumers spent an estimated US$19.6 million (Dh71.9m) on online purchases, and Online shopping in the UAE still represents a fraction of the total retail market, compared with an estimated total of $10.9 billion of non-grocery retail spending in the country. E-commerce in the UAE is expected to grow by 72 percent to about $33.7m by 2014, Euromonitor forecasts.
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