E-commerce in Kuwait

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Chapter one: Introduction

1.1 introduction

This chapter provides general background information regarding online purchasing behavior with an insight into the advantages and disadvantages of e-commerce in general and then specifically in Kuwait. The history of online shopping and internet retailers is presented to better understand e-purchasing behavior alongside a description of general theories of consumer online purchaser behavior and online shopping in Kuwait. The problem definition, research questions and methodology and limitations of the study are then presented, concluding with an outline of the thesis structure.

With advances in technology, specifically in the field of electronics and telecommunications, direct business and commerce with new retail approaches have emerged in recent decades to transform the business world. Due to the increase in the number of internet users and developing network technology, new forms of trade have grown from these advances particularly in Electronic Commerce (EC) a term introduced by Kalakota and Whinston in 1997. Electronic commerce has become one of the primary characteristics of the internet era and a significant method of doing business. According to Jelassi and Enders (2005) EC includes e-trading of digital and physical goods all trading steps: online marketing, online ordering, e-payment and distribution. Kalakota and Whinston (1997) pointed out that EC has two forms: business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B). According to Molla and Licker (2001) B2C retailers offer their products and services to their customers. In the last decade, Khalifa and Liu (2003) stated that ‘we have witnessed a substantial growth of internet based on services, both from traditional companies and pure internet business that are developing online services’.

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Despite apparent growth there are no reliable statistics concerning E-commerce in Kuwait. However there are indications that the volume of e-commerce in Kuwait is growing slowly as discussed by Al-Sabah (2009) Kuwait Financial Forum, the Central Bank Governor stating "We expect growth but so far we have not found a proper to be estimated for 2010, it depends on so many variables". In research shown in Economist Information in 2006 involving over 100 countries regarding availability of e-commerce, Kuwait came 50th. As the business world recognised the advantages of such socioeconomic changes, Kuwait began to take note of the advantages of electronic trading and commerce including the set up and development of measurements of electronic trading facilities and venues across the country (Al-Shati, 2009). As e-commerce is newly introduced in Kuwait, in order for Kuwaiti firms to reach world standards there needs to be research in different contexts of e-commerce such as online retailing to utilize opportunities and avoid risk. As observed by Lin (2003)

the key to success in e-commerce depends on knowing customers and studying a customer’s viewpoint. The internet has singlehandedly created a concept shift away from more traditional methods of shopping. Studies by Joines et al.

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