Lebanese eCommerce Slowed By Internet Speeds

Maintaining an online business is hard enough, but imagine living in a country that came in at the bottom of a worldwide list for the slowest Internet connection?

That’s the reality that faces Louise Doumet, a Lebanese entrepreneur and founder of Lebelik.com. Doumet explained to BBC News how difficult it was for the Lebanese fashion industry to sell online.

Doumet shared her anecdote as she told BBC News she always knew there was an international interest in Lebanese designers. Determined, she created a fashion marketplace that carries garments and accessories from 24 designers in Lebanon.

"A year later we were online and two years later, here we are selling items to the US, to Russia, to the Middle East, and of course, to Lebanon,” Doumet said.

Lebanon is still in the primitive stages of eCommerce acceptance. Online shoppers have not yet fully embraced the virtual marketplace in comparison to other countries in the MENA region.

Despite recent growth in eCommerce shopping across MENA countries, they still only accounted for a small 1.9 percent of the $1 trillion worldwide eCommerce sales from 2012.

Not helping the case is the notion that Lebanon's Internet has consistently been reported as having the slowest connections in the world.

Earlier this year, BBC News reported that Lebanon came in 186th place, putting them at the bottom. Lebanon even came behind war-inflicted countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

The slow network connection has become seriously detrimental for businesses in the area.

"We've always known that it was slow, so we can't actually blame anyone. But then we tried to upload pictures on the website in a way that makes it very easy for people to download, so actually the download time on the website is not that long, so people don’t feel it is slow," Doumet explained.

"We manage to work around it.”

To illustrate the slow development and traffic of online sales, Doumet explained that if an item sells online, she will pick up the sale from the designer's location in Beirut.

Most online businesses operate out of a warehouses but because of low sales, these logistics aren’t necessary in Lebanon.

Doumet said, "It might not sound very efficient to go and pick up every item from every address, but Lebanon is small and Beirut is small. Buying online habits are not very well engraved in people's minds and industry, but I think it will pick up."

"Once people have changed their habits, when people are more used to buying online, then yes definitely it is a very viable business in my opinion.

To read the full story at BBC News click here.

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NEW PYMNTS DATA: HOW WE SHOP – SEPTEMBER 2020 

The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

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