While Pakistan is making constant efforts to promote industrial development in the country, e-commerce industry has remained in the shadows for a long time. However, it seems that this is about to change since online marketplace (E-commerce marketplace) has been making huge strides over the past year. The world of online marketplace has recently emerged and progressed at a remarkable speed with many new and existing companies working hard to make their mark in the industry. Also, it is believed that the online marketplace in Pakistan has been completely transformed with the emergence of online shopping platforms and portals.
Despite the fact that Pakistan is considered as a late entrant in the online marketplace, the country has recently recorded a massive increase in the latest online shopping trends. While country’s online marketplace is still in its infancy stage, overall size of this fast growing segment has come close to $100 million, said Homeshopping.pk Chief Executive Officer Shayaan Tahir during an interview.
Many analysts believe that the most important factor in this equation that helped boost online retail market in the country is the rate of internet across the country. Specifically, with the help of smartphones the internet population in the country reaches to approximately 30 million users and is expected to increase to 56 million users by 2019.
Moreover, Pakistan’s much-awaited 3G and 4G internet services in 2014 had boosted internet accessibility and propelled the growth of online shopping services. As per the data shared by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the total number of 3G subscription increased to 10.3 million previous year and the number of 4G subscribers increase to 68,000.
Subsequently, the growth of online marketplace in Pakistan is evident from the significant amount of revenue that several e-commerce sites have generated. For instance, Daraz recorded a massive sale of PKR 1 billion during the Black Friday season. Also, Orient recently released the statement regarding breaking its previous records during the Black Friday weekend. Such exponential growth trend presents a highly positive picture for the future prospects of e-commerce industry in Pakistan.
It is recently reported that Daraz has partnered up with Unilever in a bid to reach out to customers nationwide for its beauty and personal care product. Many analysts believe that this move signifies a major shift from Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) towards e-commerce. Also, Kaymu.pk managed to establish itself as a successive online marketplace platform through business-to-consumer (B2C) and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) model. It has also launched an app in a bid to expand its presence in the country.
Moreover, Pakistan’s much-awaited 3G and 4G internet services in 2014 have boosted internet accessibility and propelled the growth of online shopping services. As per the data shared by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the total number of 3G subscription increased to 10.3 million previous year and the number of 4G subscribers increase to 68,000.
So, what really changes?
The answer to this question lies in determining the role of smartphones in the success of e-commerce business in Pakistan. It’s an established fact that online shopping platforms have become an important part of consumer shopping experience and smartphones plays an integral role in luring potential customers to visit e-commerce sites and influence their buying behavior.
According to a recent survey conducted by the search engine giant, Google, smartphones help apparel shoppers in discovering new brands.
Each year the number of individuals that use smartphone to shop online is growing exponentially. This led significant changes in the way our society interact with each other. Also, online marketplaces becoming increasingly popular thanks to the ease and convenience that smartphone have brought in the process of online purchasing.
The importance of mobile social activity
In today’s day and age, new and existing brands must have a mobile presence in order to retain their position in today’s mobile driven world. Many brands view social media platforms as a silver bullet to boost sales on their websites. Several reports indicate that consumers place higher value on the information they receive from social networking platforms and blogs. With 1.7 billion people u
sing Facebook, it is pretty evident why it’s so important. Also, interaction on social media platforms can have a dramatic effect on sales.
Many consumers are
connected to social networks via smartphones, which makes the influence of word of mouth almost instantaneous by sharing recommendations and product insights. Hence, if it’s not already on your radar, you should think about it.
Social media platforms in the past decade proved itself as an indispensable marketing tool. Social media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, push links through tweets or Facebook post, encouraging its users to make spontaneous purchases. Many reports indicate that over the next 5 years, almost 28% of the country’s population will likely to have internet access.
In addition, with the continuous surge in the access of internet and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, marketing trends are changing at a very fast pace too and transforming the opinion of the customers. Apart from increased internet penetration, it is recently reported that 73.2% of the entire population have access to mobile phones. There’s also a recent increase in the usage of smartphones with approximately 9 million smartphone users in the country. The internet-enabled smartphones have made it easier to access anything at any time in the world of digital and e-commerce business. Internet Users (% of Total Population)
Many online shopping platforms acknowledge the fact that apart from making a Facebook page or occasionally advertising on other social networking platforms, they still fail to properly utilize these social platforms. Many industry experts believe that connecting e-commerce abilities to social network platforms can not only improve a brand’s position, but also help learning about the perception of the brand. Also, technologies like Telenor’s Easy Paisa, Zong and Askari Bank’s Timepey, Mobilink’s Mobicash etc. offer online retailers a viable solution to their problems.
Why consumers demand an added value?
It is important to consider the fact that online shopping has become a mix of various channels, and key factors that influences customer buying behavior are mobile apps, online advertising and social networking platforms. Also, what companies need to understand is that consumers demand an added value to visit an e-commerce platform and make a purchase.
Even though there’s nothing that can be compared to physically touching the fabric and enjoy trying new clothes, but with a new era of shoppers, there’s an opportunity and demand to offer in-store engagements to the customers in order to complement their visits. Many analysts believe that online platforms should fully utilize digital services as it can fulfill the desire for more personalized in-store user experience.
Moreover, many online shopping platforms made one common mistake, which is selling the exact same product as their competitor. The reason why online shopping platforms should differentiate their offering is because selling the exact same products can lead to price war in future. Therefore, companies should always have a long-term plan for offering unique items to its customers.
How to offer improved user experience?
So, if you’re an online retailer and is struggling to offer improved in-store experience to customers, following are some steps that might help you to get back on track.
The first step you should take is to take your brand mobile in order to experience boost in customer awareness. To be more specific, tie your store to a mobile experience that allow users to view more than just a catalogue. For example, creating a mobile application would allow customers to interact with the online store.
The second step to leverage your mobile platform by marketing targeted promotions in order to communicate with your targeted audience. You can communicate with your targeted audience via smartphones. In addition, target push campaigns based on your user activity can help you reach your target audience.
The last step is to empower strong analytics since measurement is considered a very important factor to completely understand users buying behaviors. Let’s say that a strong part of your business consist on physical stores, make use of the opportunity to offer in-store engagement supported by a platform that offers analytic data. The move will likely help you experience increase in user interaction in your stores and also allows to closely observe the behavior of your customers.
In any case, irrespective of few hiccups, it seems that online marketplace industry in Pakistan is all ready to create massive waves in the country with companies striving to make mark in the industry by offering innovative services and differentiated products on their platforms.