Pakistani Ecommerce Industry has One Key Flaw That we Must Fix Right Away!

Pakistan’s ecommerce industry — that has been on the rise especially in the past one year or so — is on the brink of a make or break situation. Our actions during the next few months (at the most) will determine the future of Pakistani e-commerce industry for years to come.

Pakistan constitutes of around 200 million individuals, 9 percent of whom went online during the last year while another 30 percent are likely to get connected to the internet in the next three to five years (or earlier). With such stats, Pakistan is bound to become the next major internet market — in terms of number of connected people — within next few years and this is a potential that should be kept in mind while dealing with all things online.

Best thing about internet — as compared to any offline business — is that you get practically unlimited number of potential customers. Unlike a physical store, your online store is potentially available to the whole of Pakistan, if not whole of the world. So if you are shoe maker for example, and you do this well and people have started liking you, then expect thousands of orders if not hundreds of thousands of orders per day.

Online stores and businesses have potential of growing larger than airline companies, both in terms of size and revenues

This is exactly how online store and businesses in West have grown larger than their airline companies (both in terms of revenues and valuations); which shows the magnitude and amount of stakes that we are dealing with here.

Despite such huge potentials, our ecommerce industry — like any other thing in Pakistan — is operating with near to ZERO regulations and with Allah’s grace only.

Currently, the whole Pakistani ecommerce industry is operating on:

  • Trust

Which is just the wrong way of doing ecommerce. Trust is an important factor in doing business but in absence of any laws or rules, just the trust element poses huge threat for the industry in the long run.

Considering the track record of Pakistanis, how long will it take for a fraudulent individuals to grab tons of orders and run away with several million in cash? and diminish the trust that industry has developed in years?

Pakistan’s ecommerce industry is operating with near to ZERO regulations and with Allah’s grace only

Such fraudulent activities are in fact already happening around us, for example Tanzeel Khan (from Peshawar) lost his Rs. 126,000 that he paid to http://www.saqiscity.com/ for some computer items. His order was never delivered neither he has received any refund even after three months of initial transaction.

Tanzeel — after website owner stopped taking his calls for over two weeks — approached Police and FIA, but we know how they treat internet cases. He has lost all the hope and is waiting for a miracle to get his hard-earned money back.

Naeem from Rawalpindi, a friend of mine, ordered something from Kaymu few months back, but the products that were delivered were different from what he had originally paid for. Kaymu denied him any refund for more than two months until he decided to go legal against them. Matter was later resolved through negotiation.

Abdul Sattar Ansari from Karachi ordered an AC from Daraz.PK and paid the bill through credit card in advance. After two weeks, instead of delivering the order, Daraz notified him that ACs were out of stock and that his payment will be refunded after 45 days because that’s how banking system works.

When Mr. Ansari took the issue to social media (ProPakistani had covered this too), CEO of Daraz.PK had to intervene himself to get Mr. Ansari his refund.

There are countless other cases — that never made onto the radar — where people were either defrauded by getting wrong products or by no deliveries at all.

Time has come for us to regulate our ecommerce industry

If we want our online stores to not to destroy such a huge potential or if we want to get AliBaba and Amazon replicas in Pakistan, then we must regulate the industry at earliest in order to make sure that everyone has a set of defined protocol for carrying out ecommerce business processes.

Best way of going about regulating ecommerce industry is to have a separate government body — like we have SECP for companies, or PEMRA for electronic media — that should regularize ecommerce businesses. It should be mandated with implementation of ecommerce policies.

We don’t mean to say that the only way we can solve this issue is through a separate body. We already have PTA that could regulate the industry. FIA (NR3x) could be given power over dealing with customer complaints likes these under the cybercrimes initiative and so on. The bottom line is to have regulation – whether it’s through a new body or expansion of powers to an already existing one.

In addition to that, there should be a reasonable barrier to entry in ecommerce business, for example, there could be a limitation on who can start such ventures which should be high enough to discourage fraudsters but low enough not to discourage potential business owners. Furthermore, there should be a way of resolving disputes so that people who don’t have a way of registering a complaint against these ecommerce companies can find an easy way out.

With having a body for ecommerce, we will have related issued to get resolved. For instance, payment gateway is currently under no one’s head. PTA, MoIT, Finance Ministry, Commerce Ministry or SBP? Who will get the payment gateway in Pakistan, we don’t know as of yet. But with a body that will regulate ecommerce industry will also be mandated to facilitate the industry through all means available and possible.

Concerned government authorities — with Ms. Anusha Rehman, State Minister, MoIT being at the core — should understand the importance of the matter that ecommerce businesses have potential of growing beyond billion-dollar industry with-in next couple of years, and a mishap or a scandal can altogether vaporize this whole thing.

So instead of waiting for the (Axact like) bad day to happen, let’s regularize ecommerce industry and help it grow beyond the imaginable boundaries.

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


  • FOOD FOR THOUGHT!

    • Muhammad Aamir

      axactly!!!

  • You mean, bring in monkeys to regulate the online economy? While its scary, its not different to whats already happening in Pakistan so yes. Good idea!

    • Syeda Sidra

      Exactly sir, a Science and Technology minister not knowing how to send a text message, explains the situation very well.

      • Zawyar Ur Rehman

        Hehe gr8 taunt

      • Keyboard Monkey

        Reference or it’s just a false claim, Miss.

      • Aayan Khan

        Our ministers is our representatives, and the fact is we choose them in election.. We made this mistake, so why we blame them.

    • Keyboard Monkey

      Yeah, the smart guy over here is right. Because there are monkies in the government (we are taking over this world by the way), let’s set the crooks free and wild to do whatever they want. Who needs regulations anyway?

    • Shayaan Tahir

      Now we just cant say everyone is doing a bad job with things specially when we have spent years working hard on this industry … Saad you have been a old online shopper on our website so do you feel the same way about the ecommerce industry of Pakistan ?

  • Syeda Sidra

    Online stores in Pakistan show items on their websites that are not present in their inventory. Only procure these items once order is confirmed and takes many days to deliver.

    • Capt.

      That Happens With Me

    • Waqas

      Exactly. Thats why consumer are always unsure about warranty.

    • They’re not online store by definition as they don’t stock good. they just deliver it once order is placed acting as an agent between buyer and seller

  • Desi

    So hard working entrepreneurs need a FA pass naliq regulator…why cant we work without supervision?

    • Zawyar Ur Rehman

      Becuz without supervision on them… the online sites can cause huge havoc!

      • FocusedVortex

        Thats why the ecommerce industry works on cash-on-delivery.

        • Zawyar Ur Rehman

          SOME people also use credit/debit card to pay. (Yes even in pakistan )

  • Muhammad Aamir

    An employee of Daraz explained that we get 8000 orders per day. If 2 items are not delivered you say we made a mistake–I didn’t confirm the number of orders. But I think every market wants to be succeeded. It wants to deliver a product as fast as possible for earning money, but due to a lot of orders it becomes difficult. I agree with Aamir Atta what he have said in the article. I experienced exactly the same problem. My life’s first product wasn’t delivered via Kaymu then I decided I will not buy a single product on Kaymu. My best experience is with Symbios. Let’s wait for Paypal, Amazon and Cyber Law!

    • Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain

      hahahaha
      aapke sath hand ho gaya

    • Ameer Hamza

      I think already there is post in this regard which clearly states that many of these online website do not have large or any warehouse hence these websites buy stuff from local market after the order is placed

  • Pakistan reflects Pakistani people :)

  • tungi

    ye anusha rehman ko bakwas kernay k alawa ata kya hai! stupid cuber crime law, no action on youtube and none at all on dth! aisi minister say dont expect anything

  • Abid Hussain

    There is no doubt this sector needs regulations. But we do know that in “sarkari” terms regulations = taxes (plus some laws). Which might have a negative impact on the growth of ecommerce sector.

    I don’t know why people would like to pay in advance? I order tens of products from shophive.com, beegeek.net (the only two I personally trust now, I never had any issues with the orders EVER). I always use the “cash on delivery” option – the safest way. Why go to these kamyu, pamyu, damyu, lamyu sites when you have some well-established entities in this sector!!!

  • Tnt4ever

    so far my experience with Symbios (6 orders), Daraz ( 2 orders) Homeshopping PK (4 orders ,), shoptime pk (2 orders -8item), vmart pk (3orders) ishopping pk (1 order)

    Symbios + Shoptime pk + Vmart Pk (what they commit is sure correct)

    Home Shopping = 4 successful & ontime 3= out of stock (cancelled)

    shoptime pk ( ontime but average products)

    Daraz (2 successful & 1 out of stock even i called them afer a week to verify then cancelled

    ishopping delivered my iphone after 40days.

    • Hassan Latif

      Shophive is good but their prices are usually higher than market. In past I placed an order for genuine samsung charger for galaxy tab and they delivered it to me but it’s plug was broken. Then I had sent an email to them with pictures and I got reply from shophive owner in which he assured me that I’ll get another piece within few days and yes I got it. I was agree for returning the broken one but he said no need. Symbios also good but they are also in same game of false marketing. I placed order for a linksys router and got call after 2 days with apology. Then placed order for another model and same thing happened. When I changed my tone then finally representative suggested me to call before placing order to prevent from such troubles. But they are still good.

  • Tnt4ever

    for 50k+ item the seller requires some advance. on small item COD is best but shophive charges Rs.100 – 300 for COD

    • Hassan Latif

      This is our fault. When we are going to spend that much money then why we are relying on online stores? Go to market and buy items physically. For low cost items, yes online stores are good place (in Pakistan only)

    • Abid Hussain

      Sir I’ve ordered expensive stuff. In case, they ever ask for a (little) advance. I tell them I’ll come pick it from you – but no advance, cash only!

  • Ameer Hamza

    Escrow service will also solve many problems ..

    • aamir7

      Reasons behind this article is to have a body that should work in facilitating the sector, instead of just policing it.

      Escrow kind of services are light years away from us, this body will help us get one.

    • FocusedVortex

      It would also raise the price of items. Escrow companies usually charge the online stores who usually pass the costs on to the customer.

  • Farhan

    One solution for a thousand problems: BRING PAYPAL TO PAKISTAN.

    • Tnt4ever

      do you know how big A.S.S.-H.O.L.E is paypal.

      did you ever Filed a dispute with them.

  • NOTED

  • Aneekalam

    Considering the fact that daraz.pk is one of the top online shopping sites, I decided to buy an item from them. Keep in mind I am a regular shopper at daraz.pk. After a week I received a message from them that they are OUT OF STOCK. The message that I received from them is attached here. http://prntscr.com/7nuetn

    It makes me think how could an online shopping site that holds so much integrity and respect, could commit such a blunder. If it can happen with me, I do not know how many are out there who would have received the same message. I suggest the management of daraz.pk to look into the matter deeply and make sure that such things do not happen with their loyal customers or with any customers who shop with them.

    This is a WARNING for all those who are thinking of purchasing some items from daraz.pk especially at a time when Eid is almost there. You need to call them or email them to double check the availability of the ordered product to save yourself from any future botheration.

  • Seller

    I am a second generation businessman who is currently running 6 franchise business and personnel stores of top brands in places like Centaurus, safamall, Jinnah super, bank road in Islamabad and Rawalpindi for last 30 years.

    Our experience is Trust is the factor that has almost vanished from the business norms in Pakistan. I have seen many up and down of societies and our ethics are reaching to their end point.

    My conclusion after so many years of hard working is just to leave this country as the fundamental Essenes of a Trust is dying from business and society.

    I am not optimistic about the online business here in Pakistan to be honest.

    Just send your junior or even a teenage kid to do grocery and buy fruits and you will be depressed by the outcome. Now tell me how can you trust a perfect stranger sitting behind a computer.

    There are no right for consumers in Pakistan and I am telling you as seller.

    • Muhammad Aamir

      Mera Bhi Ticket Book Karwa Lain :)

  • Yousaf Meera

    I bought an electric shaver from LootLoo.com, Price Rs1000 but it does not trim hairs. There is an Electric Mosquito Killing Bulb on different websites with the price range from 400 to 699… Its widely available in market same brand and company Rs200. Just amagin how these online store’s are doing Business.

    • Zeeshan Khan

      Brother I am also running a small online store, people from small cities still have no access to these products. They can order. and as you mentioned about price mostly online stores provide free delivery.. but the free means stores have to pay delivery charges from the same amount + marketing cost. on average parcel you get online onlines stores pay Rs.250 on each ..

      • Yousaf Meera

        Zeshan still the profit margin is very high… It means Lootloo is taking Rs499 profit. Delivery charges were just Rs50. What kind of store you are running…

  • Muhammad Abd al-Hameed

    If SEC had stopped Axact years ago, we may believe that such a body can be effective. An association of e-commerce firms may be more effective. They will realize that just one black sheep can affect the business of all of them.
    Meanwhile, we can use the remedies already available. There are consumer courts in most districts of the Punjab. You submit an application to Dist Coordination Officer on plain paper without any court fee or needing a lawyer. Many buyers have got not only refunds but also damages. As a last resort, there are Sections of the Pakistan Penal Code relating to cheating and fraud. If a case is registered, the police gets much more from the seller than he bargained for! To give an example, a person can go to jail if he gives a cheque that bounces.

  • Hassan Latif

    Actually we can’t kill our nature. Fraud is in our nature and we always try to find wrong ways rather than working hard and faith in ALLAH Almighty. That’s major reason of too much problems in our life.

  • Imran Khalsai

    E-commerce please bound all online web store that don’t propaganda / mishap for Muslim Community
    Some site are promoting (BLACK FRIDAY) example : no 1 daraz.pk
    shopping festival in pakistan
    FIRDAY ( JUMMA MUBARAK is BIGGEST DAY FOR MUSLIM UMMAH
    So please take Action against anti- Muslim propaganda / mishap
    WE ARE MUSLIM and we respect all religious (heartily)
    so please required action taken by your site.
    we love pakistan – and we are proud to ba a MUSLIM