x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Going once, going twice at big discount on auction site

Forget cut price meals and movie tickets. The latest daily deals website in the UAE is offering Ferraris and apartments in the Burj Khalifa.

Ferraris and apartments will be on the block at uniqueauction.ae. Satish Kumar / The National
Ferraris and apartments will be on the block at uniqueauction.ae. Satish Kumar / The National

Forget the usual group buying discounts on restaurants and pet grooming, a new daily-deals website is being launched in the UAE selling Ferraris, apartments in the Burj Khalifa - and it will even pay your Dubai utility bills.

Uniqueauction.ae, which is to be launched on Monday, is a daily-deals website that will auction off an expensive product each day for less than 1 per cent of the retail price.

"We give you luxury items at 99 per cent discount," said Arif Mirza, the chief executive of Uniqueauction.ae. "We're getting a free Ferrari to give away, so somebody is going to win that for about 1 per cent the value. We have an apartment in the Burj Khalifa [being auctioned] for less than Dh30,000 [US$8,167]."

The website is also expecting to auction university fees, skydiving packages and electronic gadgets such as smartphones and tablet computers.

Uniqueauction.ae joins a growing market for daily-deals websites after a flood of entrants in the past 18 months in the UAE. More than 20 websites now offer daily deals on a variety of products including electronics, pet grooming and massages.

The advent of this nascent market has increased the profile of e-commerce in the UAE, with shoppers forecast to spend $270.9 million online this year versus $226.8m last year, according to the research and information consultancy Euromonitor.

Signing up to Uniqueauction.ae is free of charge, but each time a user places a bid in an auction the bidder must pay a fee, which will be Dh1 "90 per cent of the time", Mr Mirza said.

The auction process is complicated, but the winning bid in an auction is guaranteed to pay less than 1 per cent of the retail value of the product or service being auctioned.

Mr Mirza expects to sign up 100,000 users in the first two months and expects to make Dh20m to Dh30m in sales from advertising fees and additional charges to participating businesses in the first year, with profit margins greater than 50 per cent.

He originally launched the concept Uniqueauction.com in Canada in 2005, but in a different form: anyone could sell something on the website. He now aims to launch the new concept in the UAE and market Uniqueauction.ae throughout the Middle East.

rjones@thenational.ae

twitter: Follow our breaking business news and retweet to your followers. Follow us