Idlib – Shams al-Din Matoun
Amid the similarity of goods and the narrowness of the local market in the northwestern Idlib region, e-commerce and shipping goods into northern Syria have gained great attention, especially with the variety of goods they offer at acceptable prices compared to local stores.
Local projects and startups rely on social media to market their products through Syrians residing in Idlib, where they promote the goods they provide and try to attract customers by offering prices, with the ability to communicate via WhatsApp or Messenger for demands and inquiries.
Cheaper than the market
These social media pages provide various goods, such as clothing and household and cosmetic tools, that meet the market need and fill the shortage of specific goods such as car decoration parts, home accessories, furniture, and others.
Idlib-based Inam al-Farekh told Enab Baladi that her experiences with local e-commerce were very good.
She indicated that she requested what she wanted from the products and did not pay any amount before receiving the request and that the management of the online shopping page asked her after receiving the product if it violated the specifications.
Al-Farekh recently bought a dress for herself and two pieces of clothing for her baby girl. Her order arrived at her door after ten days at an “acceptable” price of about 850 TL, while the price of similar items in the region’s markets may reach about 1,200 TL. ($1=26.84 Turkish lira)
Mohammad Nawar, 33, does not prefer shopping through these pages, considering that seeing the product in reality differs from the image that may expose the person to deception.
The young man considered that offering these marketing accounts through social media merchandise at prices sometimes lower than the market may be due to the lack of costs, such as renting a shop, but they may not be of the same specifications as those in the markets.
For his part, Abdulwahab, 44, believes that the need for these pages has become urgent, especially since they provide products that are not found in the region, such as the latest car accessories and home curtains, in addition to electrical equipment and professional cameras.
Abdulwahhab added that the idea of shopping from a global store such as Amazon and receiving products from it is a complicated matter for a closed region such as Idlib, but these pages provide this option, which is an important and good thing that makes residents in the region get the product at its real price and reasonable shipping charges.
No capital needed
Nour al-Sayyed, an online clothing seller, told Enab Baladi that he launched his project to sell Turkish clothing about a year ago.
The idea came after an increase in the demand for Turkish fashion, which is characterized by modern and renewable models, he adds.
This type of project is distinguished by its lack of need for large capital, as the page’s administration does not have to purchase and store goods but rather is satisfied with purchasing the required parts only from Turkish online stores, according to al-Sayyed.
The goods arrive in the north via freight shipping companies, and the owners of the marketing page then deliver them to customers’ homes, as Google Maps technology is only available in the main cities, such as Idlib, Azaz, and Sarmada, while other pages rely on offices and stores where they deliver goods to customers.
Goods shipped from Turkey and Europe
The e-commerce that spread in the region relies on dedicated offices that provide freight forwarding services in northern Syria, and they have branches in several Turkish states.
Goods are shipped through these offices from Turkey and some European countries, according to fees ranging from 35 TL to 40 TL per kilogram for regular goods and 80 TL for well-known brands.
Furniture and electrical equipment are also shipped at a price that varies according to the size and quantity of the goods, provided that the owners provide regular invoices documenting their purchase.
“Alibaba Online Shopping” is an old project idea that was on the mind of the young man Asaad Zidan, who lives in Idlib, before he launched it three years ago, and it achieved great popularity in the region.
Zidan explained to Enab Baladi that through this project, he can sell most types of goods, including home furniture, electronic equipment, clothing, makeup, accessories, office supplies, curtains, and children’s toys, without the need for a store, warehouse, or specific capital.
The young man relies on purchase orders and the customer paying part of the price of the product before it arrives for ease of dealing with him when the order is delivered.
The prices of clothes are cheaper than the local market, even after shipping fees are added to them, especially children’s clothes. The cost of buying full clothes for one child from shops in Idlib is about $50 on average, while online stores may provide them with $35 plus shipping and delivery fees, according to Zidan.
The pages provide the possibility of shipping all types of goods, whether displayed on their pages or from other online stores, the most famous of which are AliExpress and Amazon.
It also secures goods from outside Turkey in the event of demand, as the management of the page, through its representatives, ensures the purchase of the products that the customer chooses from the shopping sites and sets a percentage of profits for it added to the shipping fees.
The owners of these projects obtain their profits by adding a specific percentage to the price of the product, including pick-up, delivery, and shipping fees, which does not exceed 20% in most cases, says Zidan.
The most prominent difficulties in working in the online selling profession are the lack of seriousness of some customers and requesting products without following up on obtaining them, which costs the online shopping account to buy the product without having a customer for it, especially if it is a new product and not known in the market.
E-commerce pages also bear any damage to products during shipping and delivery of goods within a specified period in agreement with the customer, which may force them to pay additional costs.
The Syrian Salvation Government (SSG), operating in the city of Idlib and parts of the Aleppo countryside, does not have any regulatory and supervisory role over the e-commerce projects spread in the region.