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One-stop shop launched for Middle East start-ups

First e-commerce platform set up to help new firms tap into growing online retail

One-stop shop launched for Middle East start-ups

Middle East start-ups will be able to more easily tap into the growing online retail sector with the launch of the first e-commerce platform dedicated to the region.

Announced in Downtown Dubai on Monday, the joint project between e-commerce giants Aramex, Google, PayPal and ShopGo is described as a "one-stop shop solution" with minimum risk.

Francis Barel, MENA business development manager for PayPal, said while there was $9bn in online transactions in the Middle East in 2012, with predictions it would grow to $15bn by 2015, it was small compared to the "offline" retail world.

He said EZStore.me was a "turn-key solution" to get start-ups into online trading, with certainty in payments and help in generating traffic and ultimately customers.

Under the arrangement, businesses pay $650 for a package by ShopGo, which includes all online solutions from the creation of a website, advertising of up to 100 products initially and payment and delivery of goods.

Ongoing costs will be then be in line with the fees charged by the respective companies behind the new offering, with the exception of first-up promotional deals.

ShopGo CEO Moe Ghashim said the platform allowed the merchant full control. It also offered workshops and tutorials to guide their start in the e-commerce world.

He said it was available for Middle East merchants selling to the Arab region, which compared to international solutions such as eBay that are tailored for specific overseas markets. Products could be displayed in currencies such as AED, but transactions would take place in USD.

Aramax global director, E-commerce, Hassan Mikail said they were hoping for "hundreds" of businesses to sign up, though Ghashim acknowledged that as a new platform a lot of "hand-holding" was needed early on.

Barel said the joint venture was effectively creating a new ecosystem, but believed it could eventually build into thousands of businesses. However, it required work with governments and local companies to foster an online environment.

Ghashim said while the website was mobile-friendly, his company was also developing an app.

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