World’s first smart retail hub in Dubai set to "change landscape" of e-commerce

Published March 11th, 2014 - 10:00 GMT

Economic Zones World, or EZW, and Dubai Customs, along with key founding partners on Monday launched the world’s first purpose-built smart retail hub called “matajircom," and the initiative is expected to herald paradigm shift in the region’s e-commerce landscape.

The initiative, capitalising on the phenomenal growth of e-commerce, seeks to transcend markets from local to national and national to international levels. The project is part of EZW’s vision to be the global hub of the upcoming e-economy and Dubai Customs’ focus on becoming the world’s leading facilitator of international trade.

The regional e-commerce market is currently valued at $8 billion. The GCC e-commerce industry is estimated to grow 35 per cent year-on-year to $15 billion in 2015 according to Visa International, making it the world’s fastest-growing market for e-commerce.

The first phase of the project will be ready by the first quarter of next year. EZW will start accepting applications from June this year while the work on the project will start next month. The e-commerce hub will be located in TechnoPark.

The e-commerce business hub will be fully operational in the second quarter of 2015. The EZW e-commerce hub seeks to attract established e-retailers, large retailers aspiring to embark upon e-retail, start-ups and entrepreneurs interested in e-commerce.

Salma Ali Saif bin Hareb, chief executive officer of EZW, the parent company of TechnoPark, and Ahmed Butti Ahmed, executive chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation and director-general of Dubai Customs, formally announced the launch of the e-commerce hub in the presence of founding partners and key customers at the event.

Through this inclusive initiative, EZW, in collaboration with Dubai Customs, puts in place an eco-system that brings all players in “e” domain to partner and collaborate with each other in a synergetic and rewarding experience enabling a customer initiate online trade with utmost precision. The e-commerce hub will be located in TechnoPark.

Economic Zones World has always been at the forefront of innovation, bringing about faster, reliable and more efficient solutions for businesses, enabling them to have a local base and a global reach. Continuing with this tradition of providing cutting edge products backed by right systems, processes and reliable infrastructure, I am pleased to announce the launch of our e-commerce initiative, world’s first purpose built e-commerce hub,” Hareb said during her opening speech.

Speaking on the initiative, Ahmed said: “The new project will serve as a comprehensive platform providing integrated solutions to customers focused on e-commerce. Dubai Customs is fully committed to provide all the services and facilities required to enable the growth of e-commerce in the region.”

The founding partners and their representatives are as follows: Aramex, Mohammad Alkhas, CEO for GCC; Cupola, Humaira Majid, chief operating officer; CWT-SML Logistics, Marcel Cheong, general manager; du, Fahad Al Hassawi, chief commercial officer; Dubai Trade, Mahmoud Al Bastaki, CEO; Emirates NBD; MasterCard, Eyad Al Kourdi, country manager for UAE; Mohebi Logistics,  Phil Showering, chief operating officer; Shop Go, Mohanad Ghashim, CEO; and UPS, Paul Bayer, general manager for the Middle East.

Founding partners, present at the new conference, appreciated the initiative and said it will offer an ultimate experience to customers.

“It’s a great initiative. We all know that ecommerce uptake from the SME sector in the whole UAE is very low and therefore it creates an opportunity for SMEs to wide enough their consumer base, be able to open up new markets, be able to improve customer experience and overall increase its sales,” MasterCard’s Al Kourdi told Khaleej Times on after the launch. Customers will get a wider choice and greater flexibility in terms of ordering and delivery, he added.

The key features of EZW and Dubai Customs’ eco-system include e-commerce tailored regulations and one-stop-shop solutions; physical fulfillment facilities and services; world-class financial infrastructure and payment gateway; high speed Internet; storefront developer; e-marketplace platforms; and call centre services.

E-commerce tailored regulations and one-stop-shop solutions will offer licensing, leasing and other utilities supported with world-class customs services. The upcoming hub will allow a customer 100 per cent ownership, 100 per cent repatriation of capital and profits, and will offer zero per cent corporate and income tax.

The hub’s physical fulfillment facilities and services will comprise e-commerce tailored small, medium, large warehouses (including third-party managed warehouses), offices, infrastructure ready plots of land, along with a highly-efficient transport and logistics solutions.

The e-commerce hub’s financial infrastructure and payment gateway will allow fast and secured processing of international, regional and local credit cards, pre-paid cards, debit cards, or direct debit. High-speed Internet will allow super-fast, reliable and cost-effective Internet access.

By Abdul Basit

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