7 13 February 2001
Bargainmalta.com going global
By Nadine Brincat
Since its official launch in October last year, at the IT and T fair, bargainmalta.com has made impressive steps forward and is now looking to expand on a global basis this year, first stop being Milan.
The virtual mall boasts 100,000 hits every month, with a monthly return ratio of 10 visits. The concept of a virtual mall for Maltese consumers around the globe occurred to Adrian Friggieri, company director of bargainmalta.com, three years ago.
Mr Friggieri, told The Business Times that Malta's virtual mall is operated by Officline Limited, which deals with Internet development, office furniture and supplies, and printing services. The site, updated daily, is customer-focused, giving great importance to the newsletter browsers can subscribe to.
"The newsletter is a central part of our work, it provides only information on topics specifically requested, there is no spam," Mr Friggieri stressed. In the true spirit of e-commerce, the dot com company director said the company will be giving its site a fresh, more user-friendly look.
However, the mall operator's plans for bargainmalta.com are not limited to our island, since, within the coming year, the company will set up office in Milan, supplying Italian customers and partners.
In the near future, Malta's virtual mall will open online shops, providing goods and services ranging from flowers to computer hardware and insurance. In May the company will launch a wide range of new products and services, as well as an international virtual mall, shoppingfeast.com. When asked about the local business' reaction to e-commerce, Mr Friggieri explained that although some were all out for the modern new economy, others held reservations.
"Some businesses are sceptical, they are not fully aware of the immense power of the Internet, or are afraid of the technology," he admitted.
Mr Friggieri stressed that online selling can reap up to 20 times the results achieved by a salesman. He also said that at present, the company had little direct local competition.
In addition to operating Malta's first virtual mall, the company also caters for their partners' web sites, from conception to design, updating and monthly reports.
According to Mr Friggieri's marketing philosophy, the new economy cannot work without the old.
"Web sites, advertising and promotions have to be supported by the actual product or service," he stressed. Mr Friggieri added that the company targets the Maltese community abroad, as well as the local market. "The site is ideal for Maltese people living abroad, sending gifts to relatives here, without delivery expenses or problems," he explained.
When asked about Internet credit card security, Mr Friggieri said the issue is important to the company, which accepts credit and debit cards online. "In our site, clients deal directly with banks, the company and partners do not get clients' card numbers and the card numbers are encrypted," he stressed. "When a transaction is successful, we receive a bank notification and real time order and delivery information." Mr Friggieri registers a staggering 20 hacking attempts per hour, against which the company developed anti-hacking software, sold to companies and home users.
The web site features a special page for companies seeking to recruit employees, and people in search of employment to submit information free of charge.