Dubai – MENA Herald: Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry recently conducted two workshops to emphasise the importance of business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce and to elaborate on Dubai Chamber’s role in facilitating e-commerce activities in the MENA region.

The workshops, held at the Dubai Chamber headquarters, provided information about the sector and detailed the shift away from traditional store-based sales towards e-commerce in Dubai and the GCC region. “Internet usage is rapidly growing, but B2B online commerce remains underdeveloped in the region,” said Dr. Belaid Rettab, Senior Director, Economic Research & Sustainable Business Development Sector at Dubai Chamber. He noted that according to a 2015 study conducted by Frost & Sullivan, e-commerce in the GCC is expected to reach $41.5 billion by 2020. He also noted that in 2014, the UAE had the highest internet penetration rate and electronic market in the Gulf region, and by 2020 it will have 53-55% of the GCC market share. “Such expansion translates into myriad opportunities for innovative MENA businesses who want to expand their market reach,” he explained.

Dubai Chamber’s workshops reviewed the need for a multi-faceted e-commerce approach which encompasses social media, a content management strategy, search engine optimisation (SEO), quality customer service, and systems integration. The workshops highlighted roadblocks towards the digitalisation of B2B as well as factors which drive B2B success. They also reviewed practices such as personalisation, online catalogues and SEO, which significantly influence revenue.

The workshops also reviewed the exclusive MENA partnership between Dubai Chamber and the leading global e-commerce platform for SMEs, Alibaba. Dubai Chamber helps companies to take advantage of the platform to access new buyers, thus facilitating entry into international markets. The Dubai Chamber-Alibaba partnership broadens the market reach of Dubai Chamber’s members, providing them with a unique opportunity for increased sales.

Dubai Chamber also created the Trusted Member label, a virtual seal of credibility available to MENA companies. The label verifies that a company has successfully passed a credit rating performed by Dubai Chamber. Displaying the label enhances a company’s e-trade reputation and global trustworthiness online, providing legitimacy to the e-commerce presence of lesser-known suppliers. Companies are not required to be listed with Alibaba in order to obtain the label.

As part of the partnership, Dubai Chamber and Alibaba jointly launched a Mega Sourcing Platform as a one-stop solution bringing together advanced technology and human expertise to offer a customized purchasing experience, tailored to the business needs of the MENA region. The platform connects pre-screened buyers and suppliers sourcing for items in small or large orders from five key industries: construction materials, consumer electronics, heavy machinery, fashion/apparel, and spare auto parts.

Suppliers on the platform undergo a rigorous screening process, including product quality inspection, supplier credibility and zero complaint records for the past 6 months, resulting in trust and long-term relations with overseas partners. Interested companies can become Strategic Service Support Partners to develop products and services to meet MENA region demands. Such initiatives encourage Dubai Chamber’s goal of assisting local businesses to move towards a smarter, more successful way of doing business.

Dubai businesses are urged to develop their strategies for this growing market in order to increase their profits and take advantage of rising export opportunities. In line with its mission to support Dubai’s business community, Dubai Chamber is dedicated to providing members with a good understanding of the needs and functions of e-commerce, in particular the growth potential of B2B commerce, which corresponds to Dubai’s smart city initiatives and Dubai’s 2021 plan.

The workshops are part of an ongoing series, with more dedicated to specific topics such as social media and SEO planned later in the year.