Is Jordan missing the e-commerce train?

INTERNET | Jordanian retailers should take a serious look at developing e-commerce sites, Ahmad Humeid advises.

The last three years have felt as if the internet scene has gone dead in Jordan. Initially, the internet bubble of the late 90’s was felt in Jordan and we gave the Arab world popular internet companies like Maktoob.com and Arabia.com. Where’s that spirit now?

Arabia.com, after burning through millions of venture capital dollars, now lingers on in Dubai as a 3-person operation, supported out of Pakistan! The company no longer has offices in Amman.

Maktoob.com on the other hand, announced profitability for 2003 and has moved aggressively into the field of e-commerce by launching its CashU online payment card. Maktoob.com’s “kitchen” is still in Amman but does most of its sales through its Dubai Internet City based office.

Then you have sites like menafn.com, AlBawaba.com and Jeeran.com which have achieved a moderate level of visibility in the region.

Beyond that there’s not much else. While the aforementioned sites have been fairly successful in developing content and online community based sites,

e-commerce-based sites (where users can actually buy something) barely exist on the Jordanian internet map. With the exception of the efforts of Aramex, e-waseet and a few sites selling flowers, Arabic sweets and handicrafts, the Jordanian e-commerce landscape is a desert.

If you ever have the chance to go to the warehouse of a post office or a courier company in Jordan, you will notice a lot of brown boxes with the logos of Amazon.com and other global e-commerce players. So quite a number of people in Jordan are actually buying online, but not from Jordan.

Jordan and other Arab countries went online shortly after the advent of the commercial internet. A company like Arabia.com, for example was founded in 1996, just a year or so after Yahoo! Today the gap between the Arab world and the developed countries is widening at an alarming speed. Just last week, the cover of conservative British weekly The Economist declared: “E-commerce takes off”. The impressive 14-page cover story surveyed the global e-commerce market, which is showing amazing growth. In the US, shopping for travel online (including airline tickets, car rentals and hotels) is close to reaching a point in the next few years where the whole industry might move online, prompting the death of the travel agent office as we know it. Amazon.com, eBay but also retailers of clothing, toys, food and other items are seeing phenomenal growth. Women are outspending men online and each holiday shopping season is turning out bigger than the one before.

Online shopping is convenient. Amazon.com recently announced that it has broken the record in an independent customer satisfaction survey that covers both online and “brick and mortar” retailers.

And what can we in Jordan order from Jordanian sites? Almost nothing!

Building an e-commerce site can be achieved starting with a few hundred JDs. Bigger sites for bigger companies might be more costly, but are still within the reach of companies serious about exploiting the efficiencies of e-commerce and about providing their customers with a better service. Groceries, office supplies, computer hardware and many other items can easily be sold online. Alas, Jordanian retailers are too conservative to get serious about e-commerce.

The recent reduction of internet connection fees is a reminder to Jordanian businesses and institutions that the world has not stopped developing. Don’t wait until your customers eventually come online. The E-commerce wave will catch up with you whether you like it or not, so ride it before it drowns you.


3 Responses to “Is Jordan missing the e-commerce train?”

  1. Ahmed Says:

    Real situation in Jordan. I dont know what are the enterprises are planning for nowadays? Its amazon, ebay, trademe, ??? time

    PhD Candidate,
    School of IS
    VUW, New Zealand

  2. Anas Alshanti Says:

    Dear Writer,

    Although i am not sure when this article was written, yet it’s a good subject to discuss, and i do thank you for summing everything up. “The E-commerce wave will catch up with you whether you like it or not, so ride it before it drowns you”.

    But i strongly disagree with you on “Building an e-commerce site can be achieved starting with a few hundred JDs”. only if you are digging your own eCommerce Site Grave, it will cost you that much… having said that; Money should not be the main focus when setting up to building and eCommerce site, neither the programming effort behind it, its how you orchestrate your model to fit your targeted market and even when you do, you cannot do it alone, you need everybody’s support; individuals, company’s, government Entities, institution, you name it.. those by entirety should be working together simply because they believe in the future of “Commerce”, once we come to this awareness, which i believe we are at it now.. eCommerce will grow.

    One other important contributor to the success of online commerce are the local Banks where they should provide online merchant services and payment gateway solutions to support those sites to evolve and prosper and vise versa.

    Again thank for bring it out..

    Regards,
    Anas Alshanti

  3. Arslan Haddad Says:

    what I could say here to anas is amen you are right it’s not that cheap to start a e-commerce business unless its an e-commerce tomb stone, culture is an issue I agree but in most developing countries culture is controlled by governments all you need is one gov official whom believe in e-commerce and of course can make a lot of bucks it, and then it’s solved but those elite will find away to control this segment of the economy to monopolize it for there own interest as every thing else in Jordan. [comment edited]

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