Businessdubai claims B2B is ready to fly

Re-export focused B2B marketplace reports $2 million worth of transactions so far; claims companies are warming to the online trading concept.

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By  David Ingham Published  November 12, 2000

Interest in business to business marketplaces is starting to turn into real transactions, according to the general manager of a Dubai-based B2B market.

Animesh Basu, GM of Businessdubai.com, claims companies like the access to a wide range of suppliers that marketplaces give them, and are increasingly comfortable with the concept of trading online.

"The trend is there for people to use it as a serious platform," Basu argues. "The next stage is to introduce serious revenue streams," he adds, although declining to go into details on what that might mean.

Businessdubai aims to exploit Dubai's position as a re-export hub, connecting traders in Dubai with potential customers in the surrounding area. At this stage, Businessdubai.com doesn't provide a complete online trading solution, since it has no mechanism for processing payment.

Instead, its major selling point is what could be described as an 'interactive haggling element' that allows buyers and sellers to argue over the fine details of a deal. Once those details have been hammered out, the shipment and payment can be completed offline.

That, general manager Animesh Basu argues, gives Businessdubai.com value, online payment mechanism or not. "Revenue only comes if you give genuine value addition," says Basu. "We feel there is some."

Basu argues that the issue of online payment mechanisms is irrelevant at this stage of the Middle East's e-business development. Now, he believes marketplace operators should get companies signed up and encourage them just to try out posting requests for tender and goods for sale.

Once companies become comfortable with the idea of buying and selling supplies and materials online, he believes they'll embrace the concept in droves. Then it will be time to think about online payment and arrangement of delivery. "There are already serious negotiations going on online," Basu says.

In its short lifetime, Businessdubai.com has signed up 2700 companies in 85 countries. That has resulted so far in just over 30 major transactions, worth around $2 million in value, the company reports. Perhaps not an impressive figure, but itp.net is willing to stick its neck out and speculate that it's more than any other regional marketplace has done so far.

One of the major negatives that springs to mind when you look at Businessdubai.com is confirming the reputability of companies signing up to its service. Basu did agree that this is a problem, especially given the fact that the portal covers such a huge area as the CIS, Africa, Middle East and India.

He reckons that around 95% of the companies he's signed up are "serious", but also plans a tieup with SGS Onsite. The company, which is active around the world, is hired by buyers to carry out quality checks on shipments before they are dispatched.

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