7 Steps to Starting an E-commerce Business in Dubai

7 Did you meet your new boss? Not yet? Get up and look in the mirror! Yes, that’s you! It’s that easy if you are determined and know the right route.

There is nothing wrong with dreaming of being your own boss. Everyone from all walks of life does at some point. Entrepreneurship is the way to go, no matter which part of the world you are! It was never easier to become a business person. Thanks to e-commerce and the ease of doing business in Dubai. Home to nearly 90% ambitious expat busy-bees, always short of time to visit physical stores for shopping, it goes without saying, Dubai provides the perfect platform for an eCommerce business setup. And the joy of joys is that you don’t have to break the bank to start an online company in Dubai. You may even kick it off at a small scale by obtaining a Dubai E-trader licence, one of the eCommerce trade licences in the UAE, costing just AED 1070. Not just economical, but launching an online business in Dubai is easy as well, whether you want to drop-ship or sell your own products or services online from your home-based setup. Just 7 steps and voilà! Ahead, we are sharing them along with some expert tips & tricks that we have up our sleeves to make the process of getting your new eCommerce business up and running an easy breeze.

Step1: Find out the market that needs your offerings

You guessed it right, we mean market research. Market research is the only way to truly understand your customers’ needs and expectations. And before you roll your eyes, let me clarify, it is not the thing of just larger companies with huge research and development budgets. Your smartphone connected to Wi-Fi can do the trick! And that doesn’t require huge amounts of funding. Throw your eyes on the readily available range of online resources and find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem, but not finding many results. For instance, check out online forums for the questions being asked by UAE residents and citizens and what issues they’re dealing with. Do keyword research to find keywords that a lot of people are using to scour the internet. Go through your potential competitors’ websites and take note of what they’re doing to fill the demand. Adam Global’s two-penny worth – don’t be lemmings and start with identifying the market needs, unlike most entrepreneurs who make the mistake of looking for a product first, and a market second. Only after figuring out the market potential, you can decide your business model – whether you want to go for a business-to-business (B2B), a business-to-client (B2C), or a client-to-business (C2B) model.

Step 2: Pick the jurisdiction for business registration and finalise the office premise

After selecting Dubai, there are two more location decisions you have to take – one which jurisdiction and two which area for office. When it comes to choosing a jurisdiction in Dubai, you have mainly two choices, Dubai Mainland and Dubai Free Zone. The decision needs you to pay heed to your long-term business needs, including the budget you have and the pros and cons of each jurisdiction. Opt for the jurisdiction that checks all the boxes for the product (s) or services you want to sell. Once you are certain about the jurisdiction, it is time to find out the most suitable site for your workspace and have the tenancy contract along with EJARI certificate ready. A one-stop-shop business service provider company in Dubai like us can help you take good location decisions. A tip from Adam Global Dubai business advisor: Don’t fall for the immediate benefits of a particular location. You won’t regret it later if you take your decisions taking into account the long-term perks. For instance, mainland company formation in Dubai can be your best bet if your business activity is DED-approved for 100% ownership and a huge budget for office setup, but if you want to enjoy tax liberties and have a limited budget, then free zone company formation in Dubai can be a treat for your senses. There are so many cost-effective free zones in Dubai that offer innovative office solutions and lucrative business incentives, such as DMCC and Dubai CommerCity. Hire or lease office space in the chosen jurisdiction. Although your e-commerce business may not need a dedicated commercial space for operating in Dubai, a registered address in Dubai is mandatory for acquiring the trade licence in Dubai. You may consider taking professional help for the best advice and information on regulations and processes regarding each kind of business setup.

Step 3: Have a clear idea about eCommerce activities to determine the trade licence type

Whether offline or online, you can’t operate your company without a valid business licence in Dubai or any part of the UAE. In order to ascertain which licence is relevant for the eCommerce activity, you are going to conduct online in Dubai, you have to determine the type of products or services you want to trade online and the size and scope of business. For instance, you may start a small business under the name of a single owner only (limited to certain activities and emirate) with an eTrader licence without opening a shop or issuing visas. Granted by DED, the eTrader licence is an Emirate-specific eCommerce trade licence that allows the licencee to practice business activities through various social media networks within that particular city only. Another type of eCommerce business you can do in Dubai is dropshipping. You may also apply for an all-inclusive eCommerce licence to do a fully-fledged online business in Dubai on a large scale. Our tip? Go for a licence that squarely fits your needs and budget initially once you start growing upward and onward you may think of getting another eCommerce licence to expand your business. To figure out the right type of eCommerce trade licence, you may get in touch with an experienced business setup consultant in Dubai at Adam Global.

Step 4: Register your eCommerce company’s trade name

Maybe you have had a trade name in your head for years but this is the time to bring it out on paper. To apply for your eCommerce trade licence you have to have your business name approved by the Dubai DED. You can simply register your business name in Dubai by filling up an application form provided by the authority. Before applying for a trade name approval, you must ensure that the proposed name doesn’t contain any foul, religious or controversial words or terms and is completely legitimate in Dubai. Plus, you must check in advance whether it is available to use. If you choose to name your company after a person, you must use his or her full name. Now it’s time for our expert tip: Go to invest.dubai.ae. Select book new trade name after login in. Then choose the main business activity (along with the additional activities). And finally search on the intended trade name and check availability. Trade name registration fee in Dubai is AED 620 if you don’t want a foreign name.

Step 5: Gather all the relevant documents and apply for an eCommerce Licence in Dubai

The next step in the process of eCommerce business setup in Dubai is to collect, organise and submit all the documents required by the licencing authority (i.e., DED in case it is Dubai mainland) along with the duly filled trade licence application form. Make the payment and collect it along with all the corporate documents after receiving the approval notification. Usually, it takes 5 working days for DED to dispense a trade licence in Dubai if all the presented documents are in place and accurate. With your Dubai mainland eCommerce Licence you are free to carry out multiple business activities using various online platforms including social media networks. This is to be noted that if it is a free zone-registered eCommerce licence, you still can work with mainland companies but through a local distributor. Sky’s the only limit with an eCommerce licence in Dubai. Granting access to myriad activities, the online business licence permits you to sell items belonging to a wide range of categories including but not limited to Sports, Transportation, Household, Home Improvement & Furniture, Electronics & Gadgets, Toys, Home Decor, Machines & Spare parts, Jewellery & Precious Stones and Clothes, Baby Products, etc.

Application Process for E-commerce Licence in Dubai

  • Register yourself on DED website by providing information about your social media accounts and trade name
  • Make the required payment
  • Receive the confirmation message from the DED.
  • Apply for an Initial Approval Certificate from the authority to start your eCommerce business in Dubai
  • Draft a Memorandum of Association (MOA) and get it signed by all the business partners to submit it to DED
  • Register the address of your office for the UAE government to consider your business legal. We will be providing you with an office sustainability contract for the registration of business.
  • Wait for the final approval of your business licence. It might take a week or so if everything is in order

Step 6: Create your eCommerce website

Half the battle, after you collect your eCommerce licence. Now comes the most interesting yet difficult phase of the journey – website development. Interesting because this is your chance to put on your creative hats and go all out while directing the website designer, and difficult because you have to ensure that the website is not just free from any technical glitches but also it is easy to use regardless of the gadgets used by people. We know how much users hate slow websites and since your business is new, you can’t take a chance. A tip from Adam Global Dubai business setup advisor: Although you yourself can create your eCommerce website the way you want with the help of tons of DIY website builders like WordPress and Wix after buying a domain and host. And the best part is that you don’t have to be a coder or know HTML or any other programming language to do that. But if you can’t do not skimp on the website designing part and hire the best hands and brains to develop it. Your business website is the window that connects you with your customers, therefore it must be stable, optimized, user-friendly, secure and capable of handling several customers simultaneously without crashing. The performance of the website is extremely crucial for your business. An eCommerce website that has the below-mentioned features can work like a charm by creating fantastic shopping experiences:

  • User-Friendly Navigation
  • Site Search
  • Footer Navigation
  • Product Videos
  • Product Reviews
  • Generous
  • FAQ For Products
  • Order Tracking Facility
  • Email Opt-In
  • Push Notifications
  • Chatbots
  • Coupon Codes
  • Product Availability Filters
  • Coupon Codes
  • Mobile App
  • Gift Registries
  • Multilingual Support
  • Loyalty Program
  • Carousels
  • Local Store Information
  • Personal Data Policy

Step 7: Open a corporate bank account

Although you have your trade licence and eCommerce website, you can’t start your business until you have a corporate bank account in the UAE. The procedure to open a bank account in the country is simple but you might need professional assistance from reputed business formation in Dubai to comply with the formalities and open a bank account. More often than not, entrepreneurs are not well acquainted with the process in a foreign country, which can put them in a perplexing situation. Below is the list of documents required for opening a corporate bank account in Dubai:

  • Company registration certificate
  • Trade licence
  • Shareholders’ details and certificates of the same
  • Details concerning the buyers/ clients/ suppliers (3 each)
  • Passport copies of owner and stakeholders
  • Calculated data regarding expected turnover in a fiscal year
  • Company’s declaration, authorising the person to open a corporate bank account
  • Additional documents, depending on amendments in regulations from time to time

Two cents from Adam Global company setup specialist: Although choosing the bank for opening an account is your choice, it is advisable to open an account in a Dubai-based bank to relish great offers that are usually offered by local banks to their entrepreneur customers. Having a corporate bank account in Dubai can bring you various benefits such as:

  • Effortless funds transfer
  • Access to mobile and online banking
  • High-level confidentiality
  • Zero taxation
  • Easy international access
  • Flexible investment period
  • Non-restrictive banking options
  • Dedicated regional manager
  • Availability of asset management

Next Steps:

Besides the above-mentioned primary business setup steps, you also have several things to become a full-fledged eCommerce company in Dubai, such as establishing a payment gateway, buying business insurance and arranging customer and logistic support amongst others.

Simplify the eCommerce company setup process in Dubai…

With Adam Global Dubai business setup advisors! Your eCommerce company setup can be quick and cost-effective if you are working with an experienced business setup company in Dubai. Not only, you will be able to make the right decisions every step of the way without much effort but also make the most of the expertise that our seasoned business formation experts possess. By taking us along on your entrepreneurial journey, you don’t have to worry about hiccups on the way. Just share your business needs with our business setup consultants in Dubai and sit back and watch your dream come true. From obtaining the eCommerce licence in Dubai to opening the current account in the best bank, you don’t have to do a single errand or paperwork. And the cherry on the top is you don’t have to go anywhere for your post-business set-up and day-to-day operational needs as well. Book a free consultancy with us to be sure about how we can make your eCommerce business incorporation a no sweat.


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