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E-commerce registers unprecedented growth in Pakistan

Technology penetration is the driving force for massive growth of e-commerce
Interview with Mr Saman Javed – Head of Corporate Communications at Daraz.pk

Profile

Saman Javed is the Head of Corporate Communications & Partnerships at Daraz.pk. A PR maven with background in journalism and a degree in law; at Daraz, from devising a communication strategy to formulating the message roll-out plan via several online and offline marketing channels, it is on her to drive home the brand message with utmost creativity. She works across marketing functions (PR, Content, Offline and Social) to define the product proposition, develop a creative campaign and leverage across multiple customer and PR touch points. Responsible for designing, managing and implementing launch and lifecycle multi-channel marketing and PR campaigns, her infectious energy seems to know no limits as she draws on nearly three years at Daraz, Pakistan’s largest e-commerce company.

 

PAGE YOUR COMMENTS ON E-COMMERCE MARKET OF PAKISTAN? HOW FAR HAS IT EVOLVED OVER LAST FEW YEARS?

SAMAN JAVED: The e-commerce industry has grown at unprecedented rates in Pakistan. The provision of 3G/4G services as well as tech penetration in the market has led to mass awareness about e-commerce in itself. As people have more access to information about the industry, the more its services have grown in demand.

Interestingly, the on-going e-commerce revolution in the country is being fueled by the tier two and tier three cities other than major cities like Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. While people in these far-flung cities have the means to purchase goods, what lacked was the access to contemporary offerings, making e-commerce an attractive option – the nationwide popularity of easy-on-the-pocket smartphones and affordable mobile Internet packages is bridging the gap considerably.

PAGE: DARAZ JUST WRAPPED UP WITH THE HBL SHOPFEST? HOW WAS THE RESPONSE TO THAT?

SAMAN JAVED: The HBL ShopFest was an overwhelming success on all fronts! Our megadeals flew off the virtual shelves. HBL Credit Card users thronged our website and did what Daraz lets them do best: shop their carts out! Now Mobile Week is coming on June 6 and we are very excited about that. Mobile Week last year was the biggest mobile phone sale for us with thousands of phones selling out in a day – this year we expect it to be bigger and better.

PAGE: E-COMMERCE IS TAKING THE LEAD IN NEARLY EVERY SEGMENT? HOW BIGGER OPPORTUNITY E-COMMERCE REPRESENTS FOR MOBILE COMPANIES IN PAKISTAN?

SAMAN JAVED: In today’s competitive retail environment, marketers are grappling with a fast-changing and rapidly developing business setting, it’s only the ones who adapt to the changing customer behavior that will win the mark. Customer behaviors are changing profoundly — particularly due to the increased smartphone penetration as part of the shopping process.

PAGE: MOBILE BROADBAND IS A GREAT FACILITATOR OF ONLINE RETAILING. WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON THAT?

SAMAN JAVED: Definitely. Faster data services allow for better Internet usage on the go. Use of mobile apps also increases. It helps the customer to conduct speedy transactions whenever where ever. With the improvement in data services, there has been a consequential growth in the ecommerce industry itself.

PAGE: CAN YOU GIVE US A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON DARAZ.PK? WHEN AND HOW IT STARTED OFF IN PAKISTAN?

SAMAN JAVED: Daraz.pk started operations in May 2012 as an online fashion retailer and soon, after getting an overwhelming response from the market, began offering a wide assortment of general merchandise, establishing a strong position in the market. Now we are a one-stop destination for all customer needs. Be it groceries or even the giving of Zakat – we offer it all. The Daraz app is the biggest mall in your pocket.

PAGE: WHAT IS THE MARKET SHARE OF DARAZ IN PAKISTAN?

SAMAN JAVED: Daraz.pk is the leading e-commerce company in the market. We rank number 3. This has been achieved through innovation, highly progressive business campaigns and a constant endeavor to offer customers the absolute best. It is the most trusted e-commerce platform and plans to build on its position continuously as a household brand name.

PAGE: WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE YOUR STRATEGY THAT HAS CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR SUCCESS IN PAKISTAN?

SAMAN JAVED: Customers’ trust has been key for Daraz.pk to become the entity it has and continued trust is necessary to keep growing. Daraz has a 100% Purchase Protection policy, which ensures customers get a wide assortment of genuine products; safe and secure payment options and easy returns.

PAGE: IN YOUR POINT OF VIEW WHAT MISTAKES ONLINE RETAILERS USUALLY MAKE WHEN TRYING TO MAKE A SALE?

SAMAN JAVED: Online retailers need to understand the needs of the customer base better. While many retailers are actively conducting surveys and are trying to understand the customer psyche, more efforts should be made in order to satisfy the customer better.

PAGE: CASH ON DELIVERY (COD) IS SO FAR THE MOST POPULAR MODE OF PAYMENT IN PAKISTAN, OTHER BRANCHLESS BANKING INITIATIVES ARE BIT BEHIND IN THIS REGARD. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MAJOR CHALLENGE? HOW IT CAN BE OVERCOME?

SAMAN JAVED: Cash on Delivery is and perhaps, will always be, the preferred mode of payment. However, e-payments are definitely seeing an upward trajectory. Our returning customers know that they can trust us and use more and more prepayment options like credit card and mobile accounts so it is definitely on the rise. Customers are interested to have the most flawless experience, that is the key (beside trust) for all payment options.

PAGE: WHAT INDUSTRY TRENDS WITHIN E-COMMERCE DO YOU SEE EMERGING OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

SAMAN JAVED: Massive, massive growth. Daraz will be a platform for people to not only purchase anything and everything they want but also the destination for product search in the country.

PAGE: IN YOUR CAREER, HAS THERE BEEN ONE IMPACTFUL MOMENT THAT STANDS OUT?

SAMAN JAVED: The impact on the career of one person does not really reflect the magnitude of certain events. The Black Friday sale conducted by Daraz.pk and the impact it had all over the company and mostly all over the nation was overwhelming.

PAGE: YOUR EXPANSION PLANS FOR DARAZ?

SAMAN JAVED: Improving every aspect of our business. Figuring out how to incorporate many more services and products, like Zakat and restaurant food vouchers for instance, into the e-commerce platform. Streamlining processes and structures and a lot of other big plans.

PAGE: TELL US ABOUT DARAZ’S PLANS WITH ZAKAT. WHAT IS AASAN ZAKAT ALL ABOUT?

SAMAN JAVED: Aasan Zakat is Daraz’s way of streamlining the process of alms-giving and alms-receiving. We’ve partnered up with five reputable NGOs, including Chhipa Welfare Association, Special Olympics Pakistan, Engro Foundation, Saylani Welfare Trust and Aman Foundation to prepare three preset hampers containing essential Ramazan ration. Things like salt, flour, rice, Roohafza priced at Rs999, Rs1,799 and Rs2,499 respectively, all our customers have to do is select their NGO hamper, add the number of packages they wish to donate to cart, pre-pay and check out! Daraz will deliver packages to your selected NGO(s) during Ramazan.

PAGE: WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE A MESSAGE TO OUR READERS?

SAMAN JAVED: We are proud to be the leading e-commerce industry but we would be nowhere without our customers. It is your feedback and comments that help us understand most what we need to do and we always appreciate opinions of those who we are trying to affect and bring services to. Stay tuned for Mobile Week the biggest event of the year coming your way on June 6.

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