Seasonal Businesses Pick Up Pace Via Online Platforms Ahead of Eid

As the Eid-ul-Fitr is around the corner, many small-scale businesses related to ready-made dresses and footwear are using online platforms to target customers and make successful sales of their products during the lockdown.

Not only retailers of the shopping centers and bazars are going online but seasonal traders who set up their stalls of various products ahead of Eid are using social media and online classified websites to advertise their products.

Though the lockdown has been eased off by the provincial governments with strict restrictions in major cities, the online shopping had already picked up the pace, as major shopping centers and bazars are not allowed to be opened due to preventive measures to stop the spread of COVID- 19. Some of the markets and shops were even sealed for violation of SOPs in the last few days.

In this situation, renowned brands of garments and footwear are advertising their products on social media and attracting customers through handsome discounts. Some of the brands have waived off shipping or delivery charges to allure customers to buy their products in the biggest sales season of the country.

The informal sector having no capacity to establish online and logistic mechanism on a temporary basis are using social media platforms such as groups on Facebook, WhatsApp, and free online advertisement website OLX.

These traders are targeting middle and lower-middle-income buyers who are Smartphone users having quite decent purchasing power.

Zaheer Ahmed does a partnership with his friends in Ramzan in the seasonal business. His partner Fahad Khan owns unstitched and stitched dresses shop in a densely populated area of Karachi, Liaquat Market.

Due to the closure of shops and markets for the past many weeks, they developed an inventory at their homes. However, they started connecting with regular customers through WhatsApp to share photo collages of readymade or semi-stitched suits for women.

They offer various deals to customers, that is, the more you buy the more you save, which not only attracts the customers but makes their content viral among the customers. These two businessmen are making good margins despite low price tags because they save their electricity and rental expenses which are quite high in this peak sales season.

On Facebook, there are various pages dedicated to garments and unstitched dresses that have been run by various sellers, including women. The designs of dresses are presented through photos and even videos for credibility of the products. The virtual stores on social media have been running for the past many years but have picked up pace in recent weeks as an alternate way of doing business during the lockdowns.

Most of the customers arrange their logistics or use ride-hailing bike services to collect their orders. Some medium-sized traders also arrange logistics with delivery charges going up to Rs. 300 depending on the customers’ delivery address.

Retailers are using the online classified website do reach hundreds of thousands of customers who can view their advertisements of products and connect with buyers.

According to an OLX official, a sharp increase in online shopping for garments and footwear for the upcoming Eid through OLX was observed amid COVID-19 pandemic.

In a recently recorded survey, it was observed, the current top trending categories at OLX in B2C online retail are garments including lawn, and kids’ accessories with a 100% increase whereas sales of footwear have increased by 50%, pointing out that small scale sellers are selling their products on OLX.

“To bring ease to our users we have already extended the time limit of ads along with additional free ads that were offered to provide relief to our customers ever since the countrywide lockdown was enforced,” said Farhan Khan, Country Head of Sales.

Through these efforts, we are trying to do our part to offset the impact of disruption caused by COVID-19 on businesses whom we consider our valued partners, and help accelerate Pakistan’s transition journey from traditional to a digital economy during the pandemic and beyond.

A majority of customers are not going to small markets in Ramzan these days due to hassle and safety concerns. Therefore, online shopping is expected to gain further momentum.

The prevailing lockdown has provided an opportunity to small and medium-sized established or seasonal businessmen of the informal sector to do their business through online platforms against very low overhead expenses.

Small and medium-sized traders are not able to survive in this situation so they have learned the economic feasibility of the business which means they do not need an outlet with huge rentals at a shopping centre or bazar but the products range, deals on prices, and a platform for a successful business.

Though the trend of selling online picked up the pace at the level of small traders, business operations through such channels are likely to grow in the future as many new traders will prefer digital shops over the dominant brick and mortar stores.