Anyone with a business idea today in Pakistan has his e-commerce store, regardless of whether that e-commerce store is functional or not. And then there are those who do have established e-commerce stores but are failing to show any reasonable growth. Here are eight areas where Pakistan’s e-commerce startups are falling short:
Jumping Onto The Black Friday Bandwagon
Almost every e-commerce store out there gives Black Friday deals now ever since Black Friday got introduced in Pakistan by Daraz a couple of years ago. Now when you don’t understand what ‘Black Friday’ even means and you want to please the ultra-religious bullies, you come up with nonsensical terms like ‘White Friday’.
The term ‘Black Friday’ is not meant to take away from the sanctity of Friday which is almost a holy day in Islam, but rather has its origins in the US where stores used to have so high sales on this day because of Thanksgiving that their profits became positive, or ‘black’ in the income statements.
If the stores encountered loss on other others, the reports showed the profits as red.
So black is not an unholy color, folks. But many Pakistani e-stores come up with different names to avoid hurting religious sentiments and make a complete mess of it as a result. Perhaps, they should all come to a consensus as to what it should be named so that people could concentrate more on the sales rather than the White Vs Black debates.
Not Paying Emphasis on Customer Service
Most e-commerce startups in Pakistan, including the big ones, do a terrible job at customer service. As the old marketing adage says; customer retention is more important than customer acquisition. But these e-commerce stores fail to retain their old customers primarily because of bad customer service.
This includes late order delivery, not responding to the customer query on time on social media or via email support and not addressing the concerns of the customer etc.
Hardly any e-commerce store gives the customer a discount coupon as an apology for late order delivery or bad customer service. Customers are like spouses – you just need to listen to them and tell them they are right and try to make up to retain the relationship. If the customer sees an effort on your part, why would he or she not come back to you. People gravitate towards brands who care. Isn’t that common sense?
Not Utilizing Video Marketing
E-commerce brands in India especially Amazon India and Flipkart are rapidly using social media video ads to drive sales and generate brand recall. But Pakistani e-commerce brands for some reason see video as an expense and not directly relatable to sales. But that is the most sinister of lies you’ll ever here.
Although the primary measure of success of a social media is the number of views it gets, social media videos are also known to drive conversions i.e. sales. Furthermore, the people watching your video and interacting with your video have turned into your leads already and you can further target them to turn them into customers.
The more viral your video gets, the more brand recall your e-commerce store gets, and that is extremely important in the saturated e-commerce space where every e-commerce store is almost offering the same deals. Although Daraz, Yayvo and Shophive have recently started video marketing, these video ads need to be made consistent rather than a one-off thing, so that a clear brand image is made in the mind of the customer.
Not Opting For Personalization
Many of the big e-commerce stores like Daraz, Shophive, HomeShopping, Symbios and Yayvo have large inventories and each product is not relevant to every customer. This is where personalization becomes important. The needs diferent people may differ regardless of whether they fall in the same demographic or psychographic or not.
Brands need to move one step above from segmentation. They need to use dynamically generated ads that show exactly what the pesron has shown interest in previously. All top e-commerce brands have achieved more sales from dynamic remarketing than through other types of marketing.
Failing to Understand How Online Advertising Works
Just like traditional selling practices in which a customer takes time to buy a product after he’s been contacted or shown an ad, online advertising takes time to work too. Now some brands just want to judge the performance of an ad based on how many sales it has got on the very day it started on. Online ads, especially Facebook ads, take time to optimize. If you don’t give them sufficient time to run, you are wasting your money.
And these online ads, once stopped, start from a scratch. This means that now they are going to go through the entire process of optimization which obviously will cost more money and time. So those e-commerce brands who panic over not receiving much sales in the first week, need to understand the dynamics of online advertising first.
Over-Obsession With SEO
You know how you feel when you are told on the very first day ‘Just put me on the first page of Google’. You want to punch that client in the face, don’t you? Or worse. Most e-commerce brands still wrongly believe that search engine optimization means putting up a bunch of keywords on your site and on other sites and creating some number of backlinks.
SEO is not a one-time effort. If you want to get your website ranked today, you need to generate extremely high-quality content. Period. This means that SEO is all about creating good content for at least 6 months that makes other websites want to link to your website.
More importantly, if your website content is popular on social media, you are already a winner. So instead of concentrating on the technical aspects of SEO, brands should focus on creating high-quality content. The rest just follows naturally. Yayvo does a good job in generating content that people want to read.
The more people come on your website for reading a particular blog, the more likely they are to turn into your customers. So perhaps one of the biggest mistakes many brands make is not focusing on content marketing that allows a brand to pull a customer to its product instead of pushing the product to the customer.
Not Putting Up a Mobile-Friendly Interface
Almost 70% of all online sales today in Pakistan are via mobile devices and yet many e-commerce brands fail to optimize their websites for the mobile user. What’s worse, they don’t even have a mobile app. I got just one sentence for them – do you know that you are just getting to eat the leftovers? I feel sorry for you.
Your mobile website or app needs to have the same features as that of a desktop – some brands sacrifice that to comply with the scarcity of space in a mobile app. But it all comes down to creating the right user experience for your customer without deleting the necessary features of an e-commerce store.
Not Running ‘Call Now’ Ads for The Mobile User
There are so many customers who don’t want to purchase a product immediately and simply want to enquire about it first. They will have questions that are not answered by the information on the website. So they want to call an e-commerce store up and do away with their worries before they can make a big purchase.
This is where running mobile ads with the call-to-action ‘Call Now’ becomes so much necessary. But I’ve hardly seen any e-commerce brand in Pakistan using them.
So if these e-commerce stores want to increase their sales, marketing is one area they need to look into immediately. Indian e-commerce stores can be used as a case study here.