Magrudy’s Points to Dubai’s E-Commerce Future

Dubai-based retailer Magrudy’s Bookshop, a subsidiary of Magrudy Enterprises L.L.C., is the first book shop in the Middle East to provide secure e-commerce services to a global market over the Internet.

Now, the ‘virtual’ store provides a clear indication of the commercial potential of the Internet to the many UAE companies moving towards e-commerce.

“We felt that Dubai was in a very fast stage of development and the best way to prepare for the future was to set up our own bookshop on the Internet. In this way, we have been able to increase Magrudy’s exposure and reach a much wider market; and we have seen a resulting increase in both our sales and our profits.” explained Isobel Abulhoul, director of Magrudy’s Enterprises.

The Magrudy’s e-commerce site has now been providing a wide range of children’s and business books online since February 1998 and welcomes an average of 8,000 to 9,000 online shoppers per week. Some 3,000 books per month are currently sold through the website, with many additional
buyers browsing the site and then telephoning the store to place orders.

“A lot of people aren’t ready to trust financial transactions over the Internet yet, and call us instead to order,” said Abulhoul. “That’s an attitude which is changing, though.”

The e-commerce site was developed by UK-based Microsoft Certified Solution Provider Triptych Systems, and is based on the Microsoft Windows NT platform. The secure transaction capability of the Magrudy’s Bookshop website is provided by Triptych’s UK based Internet servers.

At the moment, the Magrudy’s site only caters to book lovers, offering free delivery of customer orders anywhere in the UAE. However Abulhoul explains that although Magrudy’s is concentrating on the retail bookselling operation first, she would also like to see the Magrudy’s
operation expand to provide an Internet resource which brings visitors from around the world to a virtual Magrudy’s mall.

“There is undoubtedly huge potential for sales over the Internet, and I do speak from personal experience. I think there is a great opportunity here,” said Abulhoul. The director hopes that Magrudy’s is just one of the many examples that will shape Dubai’s vision for the future and the country’s e-commerce drive.

“I am sure that Dubai’s online shopping industry will see enormous growth comparable with the US and the UK, but perhaps in a more certain way, with lower risks and higher gains than in the rest of the world. We have an enormous advantage in that we can use the experience that others
have gained in order to learn lessons from them.”

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