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French Version

Interface : e-Tailing in Jordan ?

Online shopping during the 'holiday season' broke records in the USA and Europe. Everything you could imagine from clothing to foods to electronic gadgets have been flying off the shelves and out of the warehouses of the world's biggest electronic retailers (e-tailers) like Amazon and eBay.

The increase on 2003ís end-of-year season is estimated to be around 29 percent in the USA. That is a whopping increase of nearly one third in business.

So, did our region experience such a boom in that period? Apperantly, it's very difficult to find out.

To begin with, there's the fact that a large percentage of online shoppers in this part of the world buy from these global online stores, simply because they trust their names which have been built up over the years. Trusting a local or regional store, however, is more difficult.

Even in mature Internet societies, people are still concerned about using their credit cards online, and only stick to famous or guaranteed shopping sites. Fraud is rife and every year there are reports of credit cards theft and fake sites or online sellers who have failed to deliver millions of dollars worth of products and services.

A creative solution to this problem in our region was devised by Maktoob.com, a couple of years ago, and has taken off in all Arab markets. It's called the CashU card which you purchase from any store or supermarket and which gives you points you can use to buy goods from sites that accept CashU. It's a venture in cooperation with MasterCard, and therefore is actually a form of pre-paid debit card shopping.

To get an idea on the amount of online shopping originating in the Arab World, CashU would be a good start. As of yet, no such information is being released, but it's clear that the numbers are quite impressive and growing rapidly. Soon, within a few weeks, such numbers will be available for all to see that Arab online shopping is big business.

On a more local level, and with the proliferation of many Jordan-based shopping sites, especially the ones offering traditional local products such as weavings and pottery, shouldn't we know more about how they're doing?

The owners of these sites claim that the bulk of their clients are from abroad, which makes sense as these unique local products are not available in other countries.

But, surely, some research company or industry body should do the data collection needed to determine the size, and accordingly the future potential, of online shopping ventures in our country!

Isnít there a single study out there on Jordanian e-shopping habits or the size of this industry? If not, there must be one coming soon!

After all, we claim to be an 'information age' society and we've enjoyed an exponential increase in the number of Internet users in the country throughout the past four years. Let's find out more. Maybe 2005 will be the year in which somebody actually does that!

The Star

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