Several European retailers aren’t doing business in Ukraine, but there are online startups who sell these companies’ goods in the Eastern European country. IKEA for example doesn’t have an ecommerce site for Ukrainian consumers, so these people are now being helped by unsanctioned resellers.

Bloomberg reporter Kateryna Choursina wrote a piece about how Ukrainian shoppers find middlemen online as the retailers they like shun Ukraine. There are dozens of private distributors selling products from IKEA furniture to C&A clothing, which they pick up in neighboring countries such as Poland. Consumers want these goods, but can’t buy them locally as western companies stay away from investing in stores, networks and advertising in the country that’s being hunted by an insurgency in the east and a “byzantine bureaucracy”, as the American press agency puts it.

According to Liza Ermolenko, who works as an emerging-market analyst at Capital Economics in the United Kingdom, it’s not really a surprise western retailers stay away. “There’s still huge uncertainty about what’s going to happen in Ukraine. We don’t even know if the current government will still be in place next year”, she says. “For big companies to really start investing on a large scale, that would be too risky.”

Shipping from foreign stores is cheaper than buying locally

One of the resellers mentioned in the article is Co-owner Serhiy Khlaetskyi says ordering in Europe and having it shipped to Ukraine is cheaper than buying the same thing there. Orders for this delivery business have jumped five-fold this year. In the meantime, IKEA has no immediate plans to open any stores in Ukraine, stating they are however happy there’s a big interest in their products in Ukraine.