GCC e-commerce at a crossroads, says CyberSource
Lack of IT skills and investment among factors holding back regional online retail
Lack of IT skills and sophisticated technology has hampered uptake of online retail in the GCC, according to Gups Jutla, Head of Business Development, CyberSource Middle East.
CyberSource, a provider of eCommerce payment management services, which wholly owned by Visa, has expanded its operations to address the regional e-commerce sector.
In the UAE in particular, the company sees great potential for e-commerce, given the high penetration of smartphones and broadband. According to IMRG, MENAP B2C e-Commerce Overview 2012, the UAE accounts for over half of GCC e-commerce spending. eCommerce sales in the country reached $ 2.8 billion in 2012, but that is only a small percentage of total UAE retail sales of $116bn.
"As UAE consumers adopt mobile and internet technology at an incredibly fast pace, we increasingly find the retail industry in the UAE at a crossroads, said Jutla. "There has never been a more important time for merchants to expand into e-shopping to meet the rapidly changing lifestyles and needs of their customers."
Alongside factors, such as lack of credit card usage, security and privacy concerns, poor logistics and shopping as leisure activity, poor technology performance has hindered e-commerce, particularly in creating trusted services and preventing fraud.
"There has always been a big gap in technology. The know how on the ground, if you look at some of the old sites, do you trust transacting on a website when a page doesn't load? The skills shortage of IT experience, it is a very transient market, and there is no robust infrastructure when it comes to IT skills," he said.
CyberSource is promoting its payment platforms as a means for companies to be able to deliver a good user experience and a trusted payment method, to help change consumer perceptions of ecommerce, Jutla added. The company has hosted solutions for web and mobile, which are available in multiple languages including Arabic.
"CyberSource, with its deep understanding of the global and local eCommerce landscape and continued investment in technology, is uniquely positioned to guide retailers in the UAE and MENA region as they navigate in the evolving omni-channel payments landscape," he said.