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Sun 29 Jan 2006 04:00 AM

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Starauto.com taken offline

Online e-business portal firm Builders Portal has temporarily taken its automobile venture offline as it swiftly makes a series of changes and modifications to its website.

Online e-business portal firm Builders Portal has temporarily taken its automobile venture offline as it swiftly makes a series of changes and modifications to its website.

Starauto.com went live, as planned, late last year but the company claimed that period only represented the beta version of the consumer car trading website.

Now it has taken the website down and estimated, without specifying a date, that the site would be back online within a month.

“We felt we needed to take it offline,” said Siddique Jamal, business development manager, Builders Portal, who pointed out that the site was live during the Dubai Motor Show, which took place last December.

“We wanted to change the look and feel of the site and we wanted to add more user-friendly options. We have some modifications to make, a few changes and enhancements to some features. It should be back very soon,” he went on to add.

Despite the website being taken offline, Jamal claims that a number of used and new car companies showed interest in the site during the Motor Show, and that, generally, customer feedback has been positive.

“The first thing a customer does is look online. They can look through all the cars, phone the showroom, and arrange to take the car they want for a test drive. It’s simple,” he said.

Builders Portal’s own technical team hosts and maintain its own websites from Deira in Dubai, using Sun Microsystems servers and employing an Oracle database on a Linux operating system platform.

The firm also offers web design, development and maintenance solutions to external clients.

Jamal said that Builders Portal is looking towards setting up e-trading web portals for other industries such as gas and oil. He revealed that one major Saudi Arabian oil company had recently expressed strong interest in utilising such a service.

With respect to the region’s construction and contracting industry, the company has been successful in establishing a thriving e-procurement portal.

It claimed the site, which went live in August 2003, had recently passed the two billion dirham (US$545 million) mark in terms of purchase orders.

“The BuildersV2B.com e-procurement solution provides gre- ater choice of suppliers, reduces cost of transactions that impacts the bottom-line in the long run, brings in greater transparency and visibility in the procurement process and thus better management control,” said Animesh Basu, general manager, Builders Portal.

The company said it has witnessed nearly 44,000 transactions through its web portal, cutting down procurement costs for businesses within the construction industry.

Al Ittihad Electric Company and Al Futtaim Engineering are some of the names listed in the website’s vast customer base.

In January 2005, Builders V2b.com incorporated a ‘Live Enquiry’ system into its website whereby all purchase enquiries published by buyers are available to all registered suppliers who wish to quote, in order to offer the widest choice and attain the best price.

The company claimed that an average of 130 new enquiries are posted by buyers on the site per month, each receiving an average of seven offers from registered suppliers.

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