Souq is the Amazon equivalent here in the UAE, so I decided to try it out.
I was looking for a very specific perfume and a friend of mine advised me to look for it in a smaller store, as larger stores mark up the price to very high levels. After looking through a few stores, I gave up and decided to see if it was available at Souq. Souq (an Arabic word meaning “marketplace”) is an online store, very similar to Amazon. Sellers can list up items in their shops and you can place orders for these items online.
Additionally, they deliver items by a logistics company called QExpress directly to your doorstep. It might not sound note-worthy, but the postal service here primarily operates through PO Boxes, rather than physical addresses. Usually, only courier services such as FedEx or DHL do door deliveries. Deliveries usually occur within 10 days, which is a fair amount of time, considering the seller has to ship the item to the logistics company first.
I placed an order on the 18th of April and received it on the 23rd of April, which I was very happy with. The delivery person of QExpress was well-dressed, professional and polite. These factors are very important for me, as they reflect not only on their own company, but on the company that has hired them to carry out the job. The seller had packed the item well in several rounds of bubble-wrap to prevent damage to the glass.
Overall, I am very happy with Souq and definitely intend on using in the future, especially for items that may be harder to find. But, if I would like to see some changes made to the site, these would be:
- Improved Search Functionality: I found that some items did not appear using the Souq search engine. These items were available, though. I was able to find them using Google and appending “Souq” to the end of the search terms. Also, I was able to find them by looking at the “Other people also viewed these items” section. I can’t seem to replicate this anymore, though. Not sure if it was a temporary error with the site or not.
- Improved Web Interface: I currently have troubles changing my Souq username from the default value. Clicking the “Update” button does nothing. I’m not sure if it is because the username is already used, or is invalid because it does not meet the requirements. There is no feedback from the form to inform you. The functionality for the site is all there. It just needs a little polish.
- Variety of Items: While this may seem weird, I’d like to elaborate on this. Souq has a massive catalog of items, because Souq acts like a marketplace for other sellers. Souq basically aggregates all shops together and puts their products available for searching. When I mean “variety”, I mean more that they should encourage niche products that only cater to a small audience. As of now, only a small number of sellers sell well-known brands (like Wusthof). As a result of the lack of competition, they are extremely expensive. More expensive that buying the set from an online store in the US and shipping it via courier. They can address such pricing issues by encouraging sellers to sell these items (perhaps a lower seller fee on these items?) on Souq.
But as I said earlier, Souq’s great if you’re looking for mainstream, popular items like perfumes, electronics and cutlery. They have very reasonable prices for these items, with very acceptable delivery times. As of now, Souq only delivers to some countries in the Middle East. But who knows… they might go global in the future!