Ecommerce Industry in Pakistan

Internet Shopping is largely carried out throughout the globe. E-commerce has become well over 100 billion dollars market with a growth rate of almost seventy percent per year. However, and sadly, this segment is still struggling to kick a start in Pakistan due to various social problems and technical complexities

Online Shopping is very advantageous and easy to do practice that not only saves your money but time too. Organizations around the world keep looking for evolving ways and tricks to enhance users’ online shopping experience. For example, Electronics giant, LG developed a refrigerator which has its own built in computer assistant to help buying grocery from online stores.

Estimates predict that more than 75 percent of American internet users carry online transactions for either buying or selling online products/services. Your online presence equips your business with reach that extends beyond the regional boundaries. Hence, allowing more target audience and resultantly the sales.

There is no doubt in the potential that the e-commerce has got in it. Few voices also opine the saturation of online businesses, however, many of analysts don’t agree with this. They envision the expanding possibilities due to a remaining huge amount of world population that is yet to be linked with World Wide Web. Areas that are largely expected to grow include financial services, travel, entertainment, retailing and groceries.

As far as E-commerce in Pakistan is concerned, a research was carried out solely that found some hard realities. According to the result of research given in table below, it is obvious that considerable amount of Pakistani population do not have internet which is a basic ingredient of e-commerce. It was found that people don’t feel secure doing online transactions, they are mainly afraid of the fact that their credit card can be misused. Despite of all this, the research findings suggests that online stores are the best options for your shopping.

Research Findings

1) Do you use internet: 65 % people use internet, at least once a week
2) Are you satisfied with downloading speed of internet: 98% were not satisfied
3) Have you bought Online (if yes then what is frequency): 2% people have bought online out of which 99% people bought only once
4) Do you feel Secure Doing Online Transaction: 99% people feel insecure doing Transaction online
5) Are You satisfied with shipment: 100% were satisfied with shipment
6) Is it convenient to buy Online: 100 % were saying that purchasing online buying is convenient

There are very few Pakistani businesses that maintain or run their online stores. TCS, a Pakistani based courier and Carriage Company pioneered ecommerce business in Pakistan by offering gifts and other gadgets to be purchased from their online store and then shipped to destined address of purchaser. However, the idea could not get popular due to lack of awareness regarding the facility and discomfort, which Pakistani customers feel while giving away their credit card numbers to websites. This level of security concern is due to the overall corruption scenario in Pakistan, which make the website visitors not to easily trust agreement licenses provided by webmasters. Other reasons of low online purchasers include credit card culture, e-commerce awareness, illiteracy, limited access to internet, etc.

As seen, customer base is very narrow, due to which online stores tend to increase the delivery cost or even the actual product pricings for those who want to avail it or for those who are currently using it.

The culture comes with awareness, which can be developed by internet companies themselves through advertising their products and websites. On the other hands, literacy plays key role in this regard, along with access to internet, which is a basic element to use this facility. Above all, quality costumers’ service is what that reshapes the horizons of any domain.

Furthermore, a big hurdle in getting an online store is the inaccessibility of e-commerce support from Pakistani banks for merchants. None of Pakistani bank, except Citi Bank Pakistan, offers merchant accounts for e-commerce. Even setting up a merchant account for e-commerce with Citi Bank is virtually impossible for mid-sized and at times large sized companied due to their demanding pre-requisites including account size and security deposits. This situation leaves no option for Pakistani merchants to offer their products online through credit card.

Few alternate procedures are available through variety of options including Standard Chartered Bank, UBL and others. These banks offer transactions from and into their inbound debit accounts’ visa cards. That means you can only buy if you have a debit account with online stores’ supported banks. Obviously a very limited and odd solution!

Another alternate is to setup an account in some foreign bank that supports e-commerce. This way merchant will get the revenues/sales into a foreign account and then shifted to a local (Pakistani Bank)

A California based e-commerce solution provider, eBanyan claims that they have reached a miraculous solution for Pakistani merchants, through which they can set-up their online store and the sales will go into any of their bank accounts in Pakistan. However, the procedure adopted for this is still unknown due to their privacy policy. eBanyan is headed by Abid Malik, a Pakistani American who has been successfully offering turnkey ecommerce solutions globally for over a decade now.

For those who are more interested in eBanyan and their solution, here is a glimpse at what they can offer you

eBanyan can help you quickly setup and seamlessly maintain online store quickly using its programming free ecommerce solution. With wide rang of matchless features, you may find eBanyan the best match to dynamic business needs. eBanyan, a web based solution offers turnkey e-commerce, e-business applications for businesses with integrated marketing, sales, financial and business management tools. It allows manufacturers and retailers to sell any range of products or services from which comes the benefits of e-commerce; efficiencies and cost-savings.

eBanyan is a bundle solution available in both ASP (means eBanyan will manage the hosting and other technical issues) and self-hosted (customer will host the application on his/her own shared or dedicated hosting) packages, including flexible online catalog to cater almost any cataloging need.

Features:

• Fully featured and customizable online shopping cart
• Customized look and feel with built-in quick start templates
• Supports unlimited users and products
• Bulk product upload
• Enhanced local search
• Integrated order tracking and history
• Phone, fax or email order capturing
• Multiple payment options
• Real-time payment processing (US & international)
• Funds can be fetched into any Pakistani Bank Account
• Automated credit card setup
• Automated e-mail notifications and confirmations
• Automated shipping calculation
• Automated sales tax calculation, invoice creating, shipping and handling
• Merchandizing and promotions tools
• Multi-level secure login and access
• Activity/store traffic reports
• Valuable business management tools
• Helps prevent out-of-stock and overstock situations
• Customer relation management
• Online marketing features and search engine-friendly
• Project and Task Manager
• Dynamic forms and reports
• Integrated with QuickBooks and Outlook
• Multi-lingual and currency
• Non-profit features
• Quick access to technical support team

eBanyan Says that additional, on demand features can be deployed as well.

So there is good news for merchants who have got their solution now. Medium, audience, products and solution is there…all we have to do is to kick a start and let’s experience the benefits of e-commerce

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK