Despite growth, e-commerce potential untapped

(Photo: Freepik)
(Photo: Freepik)
AMMAN — “E-commerce is an emerging market in Jordan,” said Nadia Sweis, an economist and associate professor at Princess Sumaya University for Technology, in an interview with Jordan News.اضافة اعلان
“It is not well-established but is in the process of maturity and is being used by many Jordanians.” 

Throughout the past year, COVID-19-induced lockdowns, curfews, and movement restrictions pushed locals towards buying goods online.

However, the lack of trust and regulation cloud potential for further growth and overall economic benefit, according to experts.

Demand for electronic services, including e-commerce, resulted in an increase of online payments from about JD100 million to over JD500 million during the first half of 2020, the Economic and Social Council reported in its Country Status Report.

“COVID-19 forced people to accept online stores because they did not have alternatives,” the founder of local retail store Bestikens, Maha Al-Kayali, told Jordan News. “So we strengthened the online sector, made a new website, and the outcome and feedback have been positive.” 
However, Kayali explains, many customers still find it difficult to use online platforms and this makes them hesitant. 

While awareness on the sector has increased, the fear still holds, Mohammad Alrousan, assistant professor in e-marketing and social media at Princess Sumaya University for Technology, said. “People do not trust buying products over the internet, and they don’t trust online payments.” 
A developed, well-regulated e-commerce sector, explained Alrousan, is a service that could benefit the Jordanian economy as a whole, as it not only involves retailers but also software developers, and can promote local exports. 

However, a lack of transparent regulations on the protection of consumers from fraud and misleading information hinders this growth, Alrousan added. 

“Regulations are not clear, which makes it difficult to encourage both consumers and producers to engage in e-commerce,” Alrousan said.
“Jordan does not have an e-commerce law, nor does it have an updated strategy in the sector,” an economic expert who wished to remain anonymous, told Jordan News

Without these regulations and government involvement in creating platforms that protect local merchants and involve local industries, the overall economy will not benefit nor will, the consumers be protected, the source said.

For the economy to benefit as a whole, the necessary technology and knowledge must be more readily available, according to Sweis. 

“We need reliability and fair opportunity,” said Sweis. “We shouldn’t encourage a certain sector that is ready for this challenge at the expense of others; it is only fair if we can work on improving the skills of the population as a whole.”

Sweis also agrees that distrust in electronic payments in Jordan constitutes another roadblock for the success of e-commerce platforms. 

“Most Jordanians lack confidence in using credit cards and debit cards, many people still prefer dealing with cash,” said Sweis.

This ambiguity in the sector, in terms of regulations and lack of information, causes fear and avoidance, explains Alrousan. 

Nevertheless, his outlook remains hopeful.

“As long as there is awareness, there is an opportunity for the development for e-commerce in Jordan,” he said.

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