E-Commerce companies bullish on Qatari market

 01 Aug 2016 - 1:39

E-Commerce companies bullish on Qatari market
Wassim Drira, CEO and co-founder of QatarBestDeals.com (centre), with the other co-founders Mariem Jabloun (left) and Aiman Erbad.


By M.V.A. Kumar

Doha: E-Commerce startups and e-tailers are hopeful that online sales will grow in the coming years with attractive bargain deals available online and wider payment options addressing key issues like net security.
Though only 14 percent of Qatar’s population currently buys online, sites like QatarBestDeals.com have reported a 10 percent growth in traffic and hope to convert these into sales. Besides, two-thirds of Qatar’s population falls in that relatively Internet and E-Commerce-friendly age group of 15 to 44, with the country boasting an Internet penetration of 85 percent.
All these favourable factors have not yet translated into big income for online retailers, many of who are shy of talking numbers. However, Wassim Drira, CEO and co-founder of QatarBestDeals, is more forthcoming. “We launched in February 2015. There is a 10 percent growth in traffic, however, growth in sales is not much.”
On a positive note, he says that whereas earlier there was no habit of going online, today people are, at least, going online to compare prices.
“We try to give competitive prices. Though there will be no big income, we will cover expenses. About 90 percent of the customers prefer cash on delivery as their mode of payment. Those who pay by credit card, are mostly customers from outside Qatar.”
Doha Bank has created a re-loadable Click Internet Card exclusively to facilitate more security for Internet purchases. The card, intended for only Internet use, is accepted at any website that holds the VISA logo. Customers can set their own limit and it can be reloaded through the DBank Online service. Other banks too have cards that are similar to the Click Internet Card but with a different name.
Unlike in the past, local banks such as QNB, Commercial Bank and Doha Bank are allowing their debit cards to be used for online transactions, albeit with extra levels of security. Customers in Qatar, like their counterparts in the rest of the whole Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region have shown a reluctance to pay by credit card online.
There are some exceptions, however, like Abhilash Simon, an Indian engineer, who buys most of the training material for his multi-level marketing (MLM) career online. “MLM Nation, gopro.com and rayhigdon.com are the main sites that I visit. I purchase using my MasterCard credit card. I also buy a lot of health and wellness products online from www.qnet.net on a monthly basis,”he said.
Alex Benny (name changed), a web editor, too buys mobile accessories and hobby stuff like postage stamps etc. from eBay, though not that regularly. He, however, prefers to make his online purchases using PayPal.
The rising popularity of the online buying can be judged from the fact that Doha-based Qgrabs promises its customers great deals online with up to 90 percent off. It describes itself as an exciting and fun way to see, do, eat, revive and indulge oneself with all that Qatar has to offer.
Payment is by credit card, PayPal or cash on delivery with QR15 for service.
As logistics, a key factor, in the growth of e-commerce becomes even more efficient and more third party payment service providers (PSP) arrive on the scene, offering alternative and safer modes of payment for online consumers, e-tailers can look forward to business growth that they aspire for.

The Peninsula