5 Easy Steps for Setting Up an E-Commerce Store in the Middle East

by Mohanad Ghashim, January 8, 2013

This series by Mohanad Ghashim of ShopGo.me is part of our Demystifying E-Commerce series. It will explore various technical issues involved in starting up and running an e-commerce site.

E-commerce is booming in the region and many existing stores are doing a great job of reaching a local and regional audiences. Some of the online stores that launched in a single country have now expanded to the rest of the region, such as MarkaVIP and Namshi. Other recently launched online stores like Virgin Megastore, Feesheh and Printati (powered by ShopGo) have chosen to test the market in one country and then scale.

If you have a business idea or existing business and want to create your own online store, but aren’t sure how to begin, here are some tips (with the caveat that being a registered merchant is a mandatory requirement for any functioning business online).

If you want to create an online store in the Middle East today, you essentially have three scenarios. You can build an in-house solution, which will cost roughly US $6,000 and take approximately three months depending on your capabilities. Or you can opt for a custom-made solution from a design agency, which will typically cost around US $10,000 and take around five months. Finally, you can opt for a ready-made platform like ShopGo, which costs about US $750 and takes three days. The trade-offs between the three depend on whether custom details or time and cost are more important to you.  

  1. Register a domain name

    Getting a domain name for your store is not as difficult as you think. Once you come up with the right name, check to see if it’s available on registrars like www.name.com, www.1and1.com , www.godaddy.com. Once you find an available address that works, type in your store name and purchase the URL using your credit card or PayPal account.



    Once you have the domain name, you can proceed with your design solution of choice. 
     
  2. Start designing your store.

    In-house solutions will require hiring a designer, who, in Jordan, will typically charge you about US $2,000 over a period of two weeks. An agency, on the other hand, may charge slightly more- US $3000 over three weeks. For a solution like ShopGo, sifting through store templates takes about 5 minutes and is included in the overall price.


     
  3. Set up a payment gateway.

    To provide customers with a good method for paying you online, all you need to do is to sign up for a merchant account with one of the payment processors available in your target market. If you’re aiming to include credit cards, Skrill, PayPal, and Gate2Play offer credit card integration in the Middle East and North Africa.



    After signing up for a merchant account and receiving an API, your developers will need to install the API within three weeks. Whether done in-house or via an agency, this will typically cost you $1000. On ShopGo, connecting your store with payment processors is a free service provided with the package and it usually takes 15 minutes to be applied.
     
  4. Integrate with a logistics solution.

    To start shipping to your customers, sign up for a merchant account with a logistics company like Aramex, UPS, FedEx or DHL. Once you receive the API, install it on your platform. This is a necessary step even when selling to a local market; taking your business online will inevitably expand your geographic base. Choosing a highly known shipping courier also increases your credibility and customer willingness to buy.



    Approval for a merchant account shouldn’t take more than 48 hours,  and your internal team or agency could take about a week to connect it to your store. With ShopGo this will be activated on your store within few minutes.
     
  5. Add products to your store.

    Once the structure of your store is set up, you have to work on some of the most complex aspects of the site: uploading products, categorizing them, and determining how to create recommendations. Getting this set up can take about 20-40 days. On ShopGo, we’ve already designed a solution, so it typically takes around 2 days for a new store to add all of its inventory. Once this is complete, your store is ready to sell!

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To try a free demo of ShopGo, you can sign up here. If you have any questions regarding applying this discount to your e-store, or any other inquiry related to e-commerce, you can contact us via support@shopgo.me or through our twitter account, @ShopGoME.

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See more of the “Demystifying E-Commerce” series on Wamda:

 
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Djilali TABBOUCHE , Mon 14.01.2013
So ShopGo is basically a frontend for Magento?
What about SSL certificates? Are they included?
Where is(are) your datacenter(s): are you hosting locally, in the US, Europe?

Wich version of Magento are you running and what is your update plan (frequency of your update)?

If you're hosting in US, what's your main advantage compared to http://go.magento.com ?