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Setting up shop…online
When it comes to online shopping, the GCC is a relatively immature market. But with the financial crisis threatening to run retailers out of business, store managements are looking to the Internet to increase their customer base. Kipp speaks to Dina Saleh, Co-owner, Business Development and Operational Director at S*uce, about buying clothes online, and why it hasn't taken off in the region.
July 19, 2009 2:01 by Dana El Baltaji
Kipp: Is there a demand for online shopping in the region? If so, is S*uce responding to it?
Saleh: What happened over the past couple of years, and I think this is happening with a lot of people, is that we’re finding that by default we’re falling into the online shopping category. The internet in the region is becoming more pervasive and the new generation is becoming more and more comfortable using it.
Kipp: How about buying clothes online? Has the trend caught on in the region?
Saleh: In terms of fashion, the problem with the region has been that European and American websites will not ship products here. Aramex’s Shop&Ship (a mailbox service that facilitates online shopping for non-US and UK residents) helped give regional customers access to certain fashion websites abroad, but there are restrictions.
Websites like Net-A-Porter (a London-based online fashion retailer) do marvelously because they ship directly to the region.
Kipp: What about your customers? Do you think they’d be comfortable buying S*uce items online?
Saleh: Forty percent of our customer base is made up of tourists. A bulk of these tourists is based in the GCC, mainly in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. They pick up the phone and inquire about our new stocks and ask us to send them pictures. We’ve done that, and we’re transacted that way often. It’s time we formalize that transaction and have an avenue where we can do it seamlessly.