OLX started in Lebanon in 2015 and witnessed tremendous adoption from the Lebanese population at a very quick pace. “During the early days when we first launched, OLX Lebanon was always mentioned within our group as the Star Country because the Lebanese population showed a real hunger for innovation and an adaptability to new methods of transacting more than any other country in the region”, shares Maria Nehme, OLX Lebanon’s recently appointed Country Manager when discussing with us the company’s vision for Lebanon. Because of this, the Group decided to open the office in Lebanon in 2017, in Beirut Digital District.
Since then, OLX has gone through so much, as have most of companies in the country like the flourishing of the real estate market, the growth of the cars’ market, the 2019 revolution, the COVID pandemic, the 4th of August explosion and Lebanon’s most acute economic crisis in its history. With these ups and downs, OLX Lebanon has not stopped fighting, not even for a day. “During the pandemic days, we really pushed to keep operating normally. As a team, we used to meet on a daily basis through videoconferencing in the morning for the “Daily Morning Coffee”. This helped us in keeping everyone’s spirits up and the momentum going. Some days, because of the revolution or the lockdown, our commercial team could not circulate to meet their clients; that did not stop them. They started working on long term projects to strengthen the company’s core and develop new services”, Maria tells us.
During the pandemic and crisis, we learned that the company witnessed a very paradoxical effect: on one hand, there was a full lockdown and a lot of businesses were freezing their activities. On the other hand, the traffic on the OLX website and app almost doubled across categories, especially on the Goods categories including Mobiles, Electronics, Furniture and Fashion.
Maria continues: With consumers locked in their home for several months, we noticed a need to facilitate remote transactions. From these pain points came the idea of our new baby: OLX Store, OLX’s end-to-end E-commerce platform allowing you to order any item from the comfort of your home.
The group noticed a lot of shifting and reinventing across industries and they couldn’t be watching the train. This is where they took control of the train across their verticals and drew the road for OLX in Lebanon. In Real Estate, they introduced Virtual Reality where they were the first platform offering users the ability to visit houses through 3D tours and from the comfort of their homes.
In Autos, they were betting on “convenience” by revolutionizing the car selling experience. Maria elaborates: “Our users now have a choice to make: they can either list their car on OLX Autos and negotiate directly with buyers or they can benefit from our free Car Selling Experts service; this service allows them to schedule an inspection for their car at home and receive an offer within 48 hours. The service also includes facilitating the entire process through the property transfer.”
In the Goods category, OLX is building an ecosystem that will create value across the economy. “First, we believe it should all start with nurturing the private sector and the businesses. At OLX, we want to be next to all businesses including start-ups, SMEs, medium and large-scale enterprises. We help businesses in creating their brands, advertising them, advocating for them and multiplying their sales. Our business services include advertising packages, sales consultancy, value-added services and so much more. At the end of the day, all we care about is creating value”, Maria explained.
In parallel to businesses, Maria further expanded on how they want to facilitate transactions for individuals through a Circular Economy. In our vision of the future, individuals will be purchasing new items from OLX Store, once purchased and received, as a buyer and as a consumer, they will use the item and extract the most value out of it. However, when the time comes, and when they don’t need this item anymore, instead of disposing of it, they can recycle it. This is where our OLX Classifieds app would come into play: at this stage, OLX will be next to the user turning them into sellers to make sure someone else in the ecosystem can benefit from the same item that is now obsolete for one but, precious for another; “New is in the eye of the beholder”.
And with this the entire ecosystem is geared toward value creation, not to mention how meaningful this is for our environment.
We asked Maria, “What is OLX’s Vision for Lebanon?”
“Despite all of what is happening in Lebanon,” Maria says, “we have a deep and honest belief in the country’s potential and capabilities. Our team of 70 highly educated and driven individuals is a sample of these capabilities and a real pride for us. This is why we are still investing resources in the country; we see ourselves continuing to grow across all of the industries with 3 obsessions in mind: Multiplying transactions across industries and regions, improving customers’ daily lives through technology and convenience and constantly finding new opportunities and new markets.”