Why You Need to Tap into E-Commerce Right Now!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I moved from Lebanon to Dubai in 2011 after getting married to the love of my life. It was a great decision for us to to come here for obvious reasons: tax-free salaries, higher standard of living and a great place to kick start our careers (oh, and no wars, assassinations and the occasional car bomb.)

I spent 6 months applying and networking to find a job since it can be fairly tough. I also spent a lot of time doing what I do best: Shop!

That probably sounds like a waste of time to some, but what I learned from spending countless hours at the mall and online helped launch my online jewelry business, Lavalier Dubai.

After only a few weeks in the country, two things became vehemently clear:
  1. Dubai is a shopping haven
  2. The e-commerce market is a virgin territory only a few have attempted to conquer

The World's Top Retail Destination

It's no surprise that Dubai has become synonymous with fashion and luxury. It has a slew of record-breaking achievements under its belt like the world's tallest building, tallest residential tower and the only 7 star hotel in the world.

Not to mention, The Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the world in terms of square-footage, and the only shelter one has when the heat hits record highs.

Tourism in Dubai is a cash-cow and trying to retain their status as one of the top-5 fashion destinations in the world helps fuel the economy.

London is still number one but Dubai has managed to overcome Paris, Moscow and New York for second place, an outstanding feat to say the least. 

Even with hundreds on international brands, consumers are hungry for something new. That's why more and more U.A.E residents are heading online for their electronic, fashion and lifestyle needs.

Uncharted Territory

Find More MENA E-Commerce Infographics

When it comes to e-commerce, the Middle East is relatively far behind. Only 15% of businesses have some sort of online presence, a low number considering that it's a multi-billion dollar industry in the MENA region.

My simple SWOT analysis prior to launching Lavalier proved that while there is loads of demand, the supply was low to non-existent.

Of course, you have the Goliath of online shopping, Souq.com, and it's fashion counterpart Namshi, who I'm sure occupy the most U.A.E market share. But the rest of the pie, it seems, is up for grabs.

Why Start an Online Business

  • It's cheaper: Enjoy lower over-head costs since expenses like rent, electricity and wages are greatly reduced. A lower cost for the retailer translates to a lower cost for the consumer. And we all know the main reason people shop online is to find a good deal.

  • It's easy to learn: A few hours watching YouTube tutorials will teach you the technical ins and outs of e-commerce. Personally, I invested my time into learning it on my own. I can now claim I am a junior expert as making websites, SEO and dealing with logistics (like shipping and payment options). If you don't have the time (and you have the capital) you can pay someone to set it up for you. 

  • Going global doesn't seem impossible: I often get asked if we ship to other GCC countries. And while we haven't offered that service yet, it has become a priority next step for Lavalier. Imagine being able to sell products internationally, while still maintaining a healthy margin. 
The list can go on and on and the wealth of information can't be summed up in one blog post.

Now, it's your turn. Would you ever launch a business online? If so, what products / services would you sell?

Let us know in the comments section below.


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