Carl Ghossoub, managing director and co-founder of Biddi.com said he and the co-founders launched the site because they saw a demand for it, as consumers increasingly buy online. Image Credit: Courtesy: Biddi.com

Dubai: The UAE’s e-commerce market is kicking into high gear as online shopping grows, with Biddi.com being the latest site to enter the market.

Launched in December 2015, Biddi.com offers 23,000 items across 20 main categories subdivided into 7,000 categories. Consumers can find a range of products on the site, from consumer electronics and toys to clothing and footwear. Biddi.com is also a listing site, with ads for homes and cars, among other products.

Carl Ghossoub, managing director and co-founder of Biddi.com, said he and the co-founders launched the site because they saw a demand for it, as consumers increasingly buy online.

“We decided to launch Biddi because the region is becoming more involved in online shopping. Customers want a convenient way of accessing what they’re looking for,” he said.

UAE residents spent Dh2.4 billion on online retail purchases in 2015, up 19 per cent over the previous year. By the end of 2016, this is likely to grow by 18 per cent, a slightly lower rate due to “economic uncertainty”, said Diana Jarmalaite, research analyst at consultancy Euromonitor International.

Lower oil prices have led to decreased consumer confidence over the last year.

“E-commerce in the UAE is developing quickly,” Jarmalaite said, driven by higher smartphone penetration, and the availability of payment options — including cash on delivery — and deals that are not featured in brick and mortar stores.

According to MasterCard’s Online Shopping Behaviour study published last year, 83 per cent of UAE residents went online to shop in the previous year. The study included responses from 4,000 people across the Middle East and North Africa.

“Online is quickly becoming the norm for more shoppers in the UAE due to the high level of awareness among consumers about the convenience, speed and safety of their transactions,” said Aaron Oliver, head of emerging payments for the Middle East and Africa at MasterCard, in a statement.

However, Jarmalaite said concerns over identity theft and whether goods delivered are fake are challenges that continue to be faced by the e-commerce market in the UAE. Banks in the UAE offer low limit and prepaid credit cards because of concerns over online security.

The region’s e-commerce market still has room for more players, Ghossoub said.

“We believe the market is not saturated,” he said.

On how Biddi.com differentiates itself from other online portals, he said: “There are no other e-commerce providers that give an online [presence] to boutique owners in the short to medium scale.”

Biddi.com currently ships only to the UAE, but by the second quarter of this year, it will ship to other countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Ghossoub said. Unlike other companies that have built their own delivery fleet, Biddi.com has tied up with logistics and courier firm Aramex to help ensure goods are delivered on time.

“Eventually, we would like to ship internationally,” he said.

Consumers can pay for their purchases online or upon delivery.

Ghossoub declined to say how much was invested in the site, but did say that “personal capital” was used.