Friday August 20, 2021MOGADISHU (Xinhua) — The increasing penetration of the internet, ownership of smartphones and low cost of data in Somalia has spurred the growth of online commerce in the Horn of African Nation. Soomar Online, one of the largest e-commerce marketplaces in Somalia is enabling customers to get products they see in global markets at their nearest picking points or even in the comfort of their homes. According to Soomar Online executive officer, Mohamed Mohamud, the company has established pick-up points in major cities such as Mogadishu and Hargeisa. "We chose to specialize in Chinese products because of several reasons," Mohamud told Xinhua during a recent interview in Mogadishu. "We can get all varieties of products and in good quality to the liking of our customers from China. They range from home appliances, mobile phones and accessories among others and the prices are affordable," he added. Mohamud said it is easy to negotiate and get suppliers from China who can facilitate and connect their clients to shipment agencies, easing one of the challenges of importation in business. "Perhaps one of the most interesting reasons we choose China is because the suppliers send us high-quality resolution images of the products to enable us to make a good judgment on how the products look," Mohamud said. Soomar Online has a wide range of products ranging from electronics, shoes, rugs, kitchenware, and beauty products among others. "We contact the suppliers directly through online platforms such as Alibaba or AliExpress. We also get in touch with factories and agencies," said Mohamud. Through this, the company is able to compare prices and settle for the best offer. Some of the clients who spoke to Xinhua expressed confidence in Chinese products. "I love products from China because you can get every type of product you want. China enables us to get a variety of products," said Mohamed Muse, an avid fan of Chinese products. Abdifitah Mahdi, a client, said he likes Chinese products because they are good and cheap at the same time. "I am a regular customer of the Chinese products and now I can order them online. This will make me use the Chinese products with much enthusiasm," said Mahdi. Despite the boom in online business, challenges abound but Mohamud contended they will be able to overcome them with time. "Sometimes it takes a long time to receive products in Somalia and the COVID-19 travel restrictions have worsened that situation," he added Mohamud said that as a result of COVID restrictions, he has not been able to travel to China to meet new suppliers. He said the lack of defined home and postal addresses in Somalia also makes it difficult to deliver products to clients. Additionally, poor road networks always present challenges in reaching clients either in their homes or localities. However, with a growing young population that is technology savvy coupled with experiences from those returning back to the country from abroad, e-commerce will no doubt become entrenched in Somalia's cultural psyche.