Commercial possibilities on the Internet
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has one of the fastest growing Internet markets in the world. The number of Internet users has grown from 200.000 users in 2000 to 16.4 million users end of Q2 2013. it is expected that this growth will continue in the coming few years
This huge growth will result a tremendous need for different kind of Internet-related services as well as a great potential for those interested in selling their goods and services on the Internet. This article will discuss the different commercial possibilities on the Internet in the KSA.
What is eCommerce?
Term Electronic commerce or eCommerce can be used for any kind of business or commercial transaction that involves the transfer of information across the Internet. Typical example of an eCommerce site is an online store that sells books or home electronics. Other example could be a website of a travel agency, where the customers can reserve and pay in advance flights, hotel rooms and rental cars.
E-commerce in KSA
At the moment, there are only few companies offering their services and selling their products online. It is expected, however, that this will change within the next few years due to several factors. These include the increase in the number of Internet users, their awareness of the Internet, and the issuance of new acts (e.g. e-Transactions act and e-Crime act) that increase internet users’ confidence in online shopping; therefore, the demand for online shopping as well as for other eCommerce activities will increase tremendously. Examples from abroad show that those companies who are willing to invest on developing their eCommerce services early on are usually those who will benefit the most from the eCommerce.
Different types of eCommerce
E-commerce covers a range of different types of businesses, from consumer based retail sites, through auction or music sites, to business exchanges trading goods and services between corporations.
Selling goods on the Internet
One of the easiest and simplest ways of doing eCommerce is to set up an online store. In an online store the customers can:
— Learn more about the offered products.
— Order products to be delivered to their homes either directly by the merchant or through postal or other delivery services
— Pay for their orders online.
For those already having a regular store (as an example the computer store), opening an online store that sells the same products than the actual store is an easy way to increase sales and get more customers also from other side of the country or even from abroad.
The other option is to have an online store without even having a physical store. This is a perfect option for instance companies that import or export products or produce their own products (for instance jewelry).
An online store can theoretically sell anything a traditional store can sell, for instance books and CDs, electronics, toys and clothes.
It is obvious some products are more appropriate to be sold online than others: for instance selling toys that can be stored for a long time and do not require a special delivery are better suitable to be sold online than fresh produce.
Selling digital products on the Internet
Internet is also perfect for selling digital products that can be downloaded directly from the merchants website after the merchant has received a payment. The main challenge with selling digital products is to make sure some kind of copy protection system prevents the customers distributing the product to other people for free. Digital products can be for instance software programs, music, electronic books (eBooks) and other electronic publications.
Selling services on the Internet
It is also possible to do eCommerce by selling different kind of services online. These services can be put into two categories:
1. Internet related services, for instance:
- Web services for hosting websites, weblog services and discussion board services
- E-learning services to give online classes
- Web portals for companies to market and sell their products
- Restricted access websites, where paying a membership fee lets the user access material restricted from non-members. This material can be for instance articles, reports and discussion boards.
2. Traditional services that aren’t related to internet, for instance:
- A Travel agency services: flight, hotel room and rental cars reservations.
- Consulting and market research services: special reports and articles sold online, keeping in touch with the customers
Online advertising provides many exciting possibilities to those interested in marketing. For example, search engines are dependent on income from advertising and for this they need partners and marketing agencies.
What do you need to set up a simple eCommerce website
Almost all the eCommerce sites need:
- A description of the products and services offered to the customers
- A shopping cart software that allows customers to choose the products or services they want to purchase.
- One or more secure payment methods and preferably at least one online payment method (for instance credit card payments).
If you are selling goods that will be delivered to your customer’s home, you need also have at least one delivery option.
Example of an eCommerce website.
A jewelry designer decides to broaden his customer base to increase his jewelry sales. He sets up an online store where he tells about his company, his design philosophy and the jewelries he is selling. Each piece of jewelry is introduced with detailed descriptions and beautiful pictures. He has his website designed as beautifully as his jewelries are designed. Since he is interested in selling his products also abroad, he has the website made both in Arabic and English and includes the payment and delivery options also for those wanting to order the piece of jewelry abroad. He adds his website to the most important search engines and buys some advertisement space from the websites dedicated to the home and fashion. Soon he will receive several orders from abroad. In addition a buyer of a big jewelry chain from Germany finds his website, gets interested in his designs and wants to order his jewelries to be sold in all over Germany.
Internet is the marketplace of tomorrow. The sooner you start to think how you could use eCommerce to sell your products or services, the better results you will get from it.