- 1 E-commerce in Pakistan
- 2 How to Set up Your Own E-commerce Store in Pakistan?
- 3 Marketing
E-commerce: As bourgeois this term may sound, the real deal is just as proletariat as we are. What we see on its surface is big shots like Amazon, or in case of Pakistan, Daraz and its likes, but what we fail to see is hundreds of thousands of laymen who work day and night to make the e-commerce dream come true.
Making money with e-commerce in Pakistan is every internet entrepreneur’s dream and it is for two good reasons:
- First of all, those who have tried know this that products sell more than services. They are easier to sell and the e-commerce model does not take as much hard-work as a service-based model will take.
- Secondly, in terms of competition, e-commerce is still not as saturated as services. If you don’t believe me, go to Fiverr and see the number of people trying their luck at logo design and then go to any sub-category on Amazon and see the number of sellers.
There should be no doubt that e-commerce is an ideal type of business, in which the main trick of the trade remains the same. Pick an item at a wholesale rate and sell it at the retail price. Which retail price? Well, you choose.
As a seller, not too long ago, I had to search for a few items online and I noticed that wholesale is not same in case of every seller. Take this fruit pacifier for an example, I tried to find it at cheap rates and I found that every wholesaler had their own rates.
This gives you the flexibility that you want as a business person, and all you have to do is to devise a fair percentage of profit and sell that wholesale item at a retail rate.
The biggest misconception about e-commerce that Pakistani youth tends to fall for is to consider it a rich man’s cup of tea. No! You don’t need to have deep pockets to run a products-based online business.
Without further ado, I will show you not only how Pakistani e-commerce business works, but how you can choose a foreign audience and build an e-commerce business around it.
E-commerce in Pakistan
Pakistan is still a new entrant in e-commerce world and the size of Pakistan’s e-commerce economy is far from its threshold. How do we know? Let us compare Pakistani e-commerce stats to the Indian ones.
Pakistan and India: two neighboring countries with too many similarities are the most promising entrants in online retail business; due to these similarities a comparison is highly relevant.
While Pakistan’s total population is 1/5th of India’s total population, the e-commerce stats are not proportionate to this ratio. Back in 2017, total e-commerce sales that Indian online retail stores made were roughly $20.059 billion.
In the same year, Pakistan’s total e-commerce sales were only $600 million. Now keeping the 1 – 5 ratio in mind, it is safe to assume that actual threshold of Pakistan’ e-commerce market is roughly $4 billion.
Considering that we are late entrants in e-commerce, the stats are not so worrisome. Having said that, it is important to remember that as per SBP report, Pakistan’s e-commerce market has not reached more than $600 million (in 2017). This means that over $3 billion is still there on the table and all you have to do is get them.
Judging by the pace of the e-commerce economy, it is said that by 2020 the total size of Pakistani e-commerce market will cross the psychological barrier of $1 billion. The SBP reports shed light on the stats from 2017, which show that in FY 2017 our total e-commerce transactions (prepayment) were 1.2 million and 571 local e-commerce merchants made PKR 9.8 billion only out of the local prepayment sales.
This figure does not include the revenue that our merchants generated from internationally made prepayment online sales. This also does not include the revenues that our merchants generated from post-payment or COD sales.
Pakistan’s Biggest E-commerce Stores
Before we get to talk about the biggest names in Pakistan’s e-commerce market, we have to define the types of e-commerce stores that work from Facebook to www and make millions of sales every month.
Here is a list of different categories of e-commerce stores:
- Big Shot Multi-Retailers – These are the big shots of Pakistani e-commerce industry: the multi-retailers who list items from a wide array of categories. These are stores like Daraz, Yavo, Kaymu, and Symbios etc.
- Medium-Size Multi Retailers – These stores are not as big as Daraz or its likes, but they have their own established online stores with multi-categories of products. These stores are trying hard to make it to the summit and this category includes stores like GoTo and Well.pk etc.
- Small-Size Multi Retailers – These stores are not as big as medium range online stores, let alone the big shots. They focus on one niche and try to leverage their specialty to drive sales. The examples are stores like Higher.com.pk and Babynestboutique.com etc.
- Facebook Retailers – This is the last category of the Pakistani e-commerce stores. These retailers have very well established Facebook stores or groups and the examples are Facebook business pages (shops) like Haniakidsclothing or Lahore Buy & Sell etc.
Now that we are done with the categories of online retail businesses in Pakistan, let us have a look at biggest Pakistani retail stores. Many of them follow an Amazon business model where the packaging and shipment of your products will be handled by them.
In short: If you cannot will a store as big as Daraz.pk out of your brain, you can start selling with them and let the biggest online retail store take care of non-productive errands.
Here’s the list of these e-commerce giants:
Now we are going to have a look at the top three stores, discuss them at length, and see the audience that they deal with and how to leverage these big platforms in our favor.
Daraz.pk was founded back in 2012 by Germany based Rocket Internet: an internet incubation and venture capitalist company. Two Pakistanis Muneeb Maayr and Farees Shah are known as the co-founders of this initiative and the website lists items from cottage industries as well as 126+ popular brands.
- Audience – As a multi-retailer store, Daraz lists a lot of products from different categories; however, their main focus is on male, female and kids apparel and fashion. This you can tell by the number of listings and the number of purchases as well as reviews. Thus their audience is mostly young men and women.
- Growth – From 2012 when Daraz took advantage of pretty nominal competition. And now, Daraz has gone from millions to billions of PKR in their monthly sales. Just for the record, on last Big Friday sake, Daraz made PKR 3 billion on a single day.
- Business Model – Daraz lets small retail stores and sellers list their items in their store and that too free of cost until that listing actually matures into a sale. Once the item is packed, Daraz takes care of the delivery. Also, they offer a fulfillment model similar to Amazon; keep your inventory at Daraz’s warehouse and let Daraz take care of packaging and shipping.
Yavo.com is one of the most popular and fast-growing e-commerce stores in Pakistan. Yayvo is a venture of E-Com which is an independent company and which belongs to the courier giant TCS. This gives Yavo a big benefit because its shipments are handled by TCS. Just like any other big e-commerce store, they also have multiple categories.
- Audience – As per stats previously released by Kaymu (merged with Daraz), 70% of online customers are young males. This means that the audience of Kaymu is also largely consisted of young men.
- Growth – In an interview with Dawn, back in 2017, Yayvo’s CEO mentioned that company completed its 2015 to 2016 revenue target in just 4 months. After more than a year, this growth rate must have increased.
- Business Model – Just like any multi-retailer, their listing includes products from many different categories. From electronics to gadgets and from clothing to home appliances they sell everything. However, unlike Daraz they are not too open to individual sellers. They mostly let brands, manufacturers, and distributors sell the products on their portal, although there are always exceptions.
Shophive, as most would not know, is actually one of the oldest online retailers in Pakistan. Although they have lost their high ground to retail outlets that joined the e-commerce industry later, they still receive as many as 483,330+ visitors per month. Although Shophive is a multi-retailer store, its main focus is on high-end gadgets, cell phones, tablets, and laptops etc.
- Audience – The gadget junkie young men and women are the main audience of this store. The store, since the day of its inception, has been a gadget and electronics store, and while this limits their appeal, it also makes them appear more authentic in gadgets and electronics niche.
- Growth – Their growth has been exponential since the beginning, but because they never seriously expanded their operations to other categories, they had to give up their rank to new websites like Daraz and Yayvo etc.
- Business Model – Their business model is similar to Yayvo and they mostly allow a seller who is either a local or an international brand. They do not offer any shipping or fulfillment services that other two websites offer. Also, their model is not adaptable to multiple listings which is why they are no longer the number 1 e-commerce site in Pakistan.
How to Set up Your Own E-commerce Store in Pakistan?
Easier said than done. All of us know that products sell better than services, but only a few of us talk of the headache that a products-based business actually is.
In case of services, you only have to deal with your customer, and if you’re reselling services, you have to deal with the lowly Fiverr ninja as well.
However, in case of e-commerce, you have to deal with the customer, you have to deal with the wholesaler, you have to deal with your e-commerce courier service provider and yes, if you keep inventory, you have to keep track of them too, with your local post office.
There are two e-commerce models for you to try your hands at. Each of them has their own merits and demerits, and in the end, it all boils down to how much effort you put into your business.
Selecting the Niche
Assuming that you are not filthy rich to go crazy with a multiple-retailer website like Daraz, the options that you are left with is to start an e-commerce business on Facebook or establish a small www store.
Selecting the niche is very important in case you do not have a small team to take care of different types of products. So how can you find your niche?
Here are a few important tips to help you with finding a niche and the products from your local market:
Find Products Near You – I remember this African woman who sells soaps on Amazon and her business is really doing very well because what she did was a smart entrepreneurial thing.
Her country was rich in some sort of herbs that are used in herbal soaps. Due to abundance, that particular herb was available at very cheap rates, while in Western countries the cost of the same herb was considerably higher. All she did was make a soap mainly based on that herb, thus cut her production costs and made really good recurring income out of this business.
Try to find some raw material around you that you can make good products from, or just find products at wholesale rates and sell them at the retail rate. What you should look for is a certain demand for the items that you can find near you and those too at cheap, wholesale rate.
Get those items at a wholesale rate and sell them at the retail rate in areas where those products are hard to find or highly priced.
For example, a budding entrepreneur in Multan: Mehran Fida, turned his ancestral farms into a company named Multan Farms and sooner than later he was making Rs. 100,000 per week.
His product? Multani Sohan Halwa and Multani ‘mitti’ (mud)! See? If someone can sell something like mud and make good money out of it, you can also find a product that is native to your locale and sell it to people all over Pakistan.
Sell a Solution to a Problem – There are a lot of problems around you; you have to find a problem that is marketable and then find a solution and capitalize on it.
For example, you must have noticed that the beard hair is different than those on the head. They get tangled very easily and it is a headache for bearded fellows to take care of them. The idea is a beard wax! Make it and sell it, or buy it, then market and sell it.
You might be amazed, but beard wax and beard care items is a big business industry. Well, it is small in size, but big because it is not saturated and there is a lot of talk about it.
What you should do is find a problem around you, make or find a product that offers an intelligent solution to that problem and the money will come rolling in. The solution-problem model of business is definitely very effective and one of the oldest ones out there.
Find Trends – There are a lot of different ways of finding a trend. You can find a trend on the internet or you can find one out of your own thought process as well as communication with other people.
Here’s an example. If you go to Pakistani Buy and Sell groups on Facebook you will see that there’s not much activity there, but mostly in baby & toddler products groups.
This is a huge niche with a constantly growing number of soon-to-be-moms and mothers with infants and toddlers who need clothing, shoes, toys and baby care accessories. The trend of moms buying from online stores is already sky high and in future, this will remain to be one of the most important niches in Pakistan.
However, if you want to try some more unconventional ways of finding trends, social media can help you. Check Facebook and/or Twitter trends for Pakistan and devise your niche as per those trends. These trends can also help a lot with marketing. Same is the case with Google trends.
Value Added Products – If you do not know what a value-added product is, let me put it this way. A strawberry is an agricultural product and as a product, it is sold fresh. When you add value to this product and make jam out of it, it becomes a ‘value-added product’.
This type of e-commerce business requires a certain skillset. Not only does it require you to identify a product in mandi that can be presented to customers with value-added benefits, but you also need to have the place, employees (depending on the scale) and equipment to do so.
An example of this sort of e-commerce business is salt lamps and decoration pieces. People in Western countries, where asthma is a big issue due to cold, have a deep interest in salt and items made out of it. The salt lamp is a value-added solution that not only offers them a decently lighted ambiance but also purifies the air and thus helps them against asthma and other similar problems.
However, market research is always good before you jump to something. You have to see if you can get the items at wholesale rates or you’ll have to get raw products and make value-added items by yourself.
You also have to manage a wholesale – retail price ratio; that is you must sell a product at 2x the original or production price in order to cover your expenses in terms of marketing, equipment, place, and employees etc.
How to Identify Demand – The most important thing is to see if there is demand for something. Suppose your target audience is people in big cities of Punjab, you will have to check trends.
This will take us back to the trends section that we have covered, but just to show you how Google trends can help you find something of interest for people of Faisalabad, here is a snapshot of the results when I chose country Pakistan, applied the keyword ‘Faisalabad’ and scrolled down to Related Topics and Related Queries.
You can see that in Related Queries the top and rising searches of the people from Faisalabad.
Now, I saw keywords for Titanic hotel and resort Faisalabad; thus I know that if I have to offer some value-added (or other) product to the audience in Faisalabad, ideally it should be a food item.
Also, you can try using the keyword planner on Google AdWords, enter your city e.g. Faisalabad and see the most frequently Googled keywords.
These ideas won’t help you get rich overnight; all you can do with them is to find the limits of your target audience. Likewise, if you try Facebook or other Social Media handles’ search option with your target city, you can get some ideas.
For example, Facebook’s search lets you search Posts as well. So if I searched Faisalabad and then went to the posts section, there I will find a few posts on Faisalabad Buy & Sell Groups (there are a few with really big following) and I see what people are interested in. Moreover, posts from people from the same city will also reveal the sort of products that they are interested in.
So for you, the mantra is to go check out the Buy & Sell groups of the cities that you target and read the posts in Facebook search > posts section.
Go with the Flow – After all these ideas if you are still confused, and by all means, you can be confused when there are more than one ideas on the table, what you can do is go with the flow. What’s a flow in this case? Let me explain.
Flow is the majority of the people doing a business that you are willing to do. Since the business type is e-commerce, you should follow on Twitter and make friends on Facebook and LinkedIn the people who are already into e-commerce and doing well.
Chances are, in case you are not anti-social, that you are already a member of a big social community consisting of people into e-commerce, but if you are not, start following and making friends. They let people know what they do and how. Follow in their footsteps, and if need be, find a mentor out of them.
This will help you do what the successful e-commerce entrepreneurs do and you will soon working with same tools, ideas and hacks that they tried and made a living. Doing what others do will bring you to the niches with suffocating competition, but the hacks and methods that they use will help you beat the competition and make it to the top.
Setting Up Your First Online Store
Setting up your first e-commerce store for Pakistani audience is a big deal.
Since your audience and approach is local, the best content management system is WordPress. Roughly 25% of websites are based on WordPress and it has the biggest community of developers. General users are also always happy to help you with any issue.
A Facebook page is a must even if you have a website of your own. However, if you want to start on a small scale, you can postpone the website and go with a Facebook page first.
Let us take a look at these one-by-one and see how you can set up your first e-commerce store.
WordPress – WordPress, as awesome it is, is still free of cost. All you have to do is to buy a domain and then buy a hosting, and almost all hosting sites out there let you install WordPress for free.
Choosing a Domain – When you choose a domain you have to consider the trends with respect to e-commerce store names. Most of them are single words like Daraz, Yayvo etc. Single-word business names are the easiest to remember.
This is not the biggest concern when looking for a domain name; the biggest concern is the TLD. Since you are focusing on Pakistani market, it is better to go for .com.pk or preferably .pk TLD.
Choosing a Hosting Service – Here I will not talk about the names of the companies since companies like HostGator or Bluehost are already famous among those who have been Googling good hosting sites.
The major concern here is the type of hosting that you need. For the lowly shared hosting to cloud hosting to VPS to Dedicated Hosting there are a lot of different types of hosting plans based on technical details like CPU cores, SSD storage, RAM, and bandwidth etc.
When we talk about the technical challenges that e-commerce websites have to face, the first and foremost is heavy traffic and the second biggest challenge is the space to have all the media that you have to upload from time to time.
Considering that the daily traffic of a decent and relatively new e-commerce site is roughly 5000+ visitors, it is safe to say that you should not go for anything less than cloud hosting. Also, it depends whether your cloud is saturated with other websites or it is dedicated to your website.
Theme – Unless you want to pay big bucks to some coding company to get a purpose-built theme, you should buy a $50+ theme from any theme store. E-commerce themes are different than the other themes because of their style and WooCommerce integration feature.
Shopkeeper, Flatsome, and Uncode are some of the themes that earned e-commerce entrepreneurs’ respect and have sold thousands of copies of these themes. Themeforest is one of the best marketplaces for themes and once you buy from them, you get unlimited updates of the basic theme and 6 months support.
Pros & Cons of WordPress
- Open Source – WordPress is open source which means that you can freely modify the code to your convenience.
- Free of Cost – As mentioned earlier, almost all hosting companies let you download WordPress free of cost.
- Ease of Use – WordPress is a kind of go-to content management system because it is easy to use. Even a first timer can run ordinary daily errands.
- Community Support – WordPress being the biggest CMS has the biggest community on the internet. The community consists of hardcore coders as well as experienced users. This means that whatever your problem is, you’ll get help in no time.
- Security Flaws – WordPress is not even close to being as safe as ASP.Net and as a result, it is pretty vulnerable to hacking attacks.
- E-commerce Limitations – Apart from WooCommerce the e-commerce plugins available on WordPress have very limited applications.
This plugin is what makes e-commerce possible on WordPress. It is a free and open-source plugin that you may integrate with your WordPress theme and sell items online. While this essential plugin comes with many features that help you with organizing your listings, prioritizing the shipment options and others, the biggest attraction is the payment options that it offers.
With WooCommerce integrated with your theme, you can accept payments in form of major credit cards, PayPal, and bank to bank transfers as well as cash on delivery. With this many options for entrepreneurs in a country where PayPal, Amazon, and eBay still sound like a dream, the only thing to worry about is its integration. There are many YouTube tutorials that teach you as to how to easily integrate WooCommerce with your WordPress theme.
Have a look at this one:ARVE Error: src mismatch
src in: https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/1sg7ctUFhXI?feature=oembed&modestbranding=0&showinfo=0&rel=0&autoplay=1
src gen: https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/1sg7ctUFhXIActual comparison
src in: https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/1sg7ctUFhXI?modestbranding=0&showinfo=0&rel=0&autoplay=1
src gen: https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/1sg7ctUFhXI
While WooCommerce is absolutely free and open-source, a lot of people choose Shopify as their e-commerce solution and the good news is that it is just as easy to integrate with WordPress as WooCommerce is.
The best part about Shopify is that it comes with a lot of options that are only limited to Shopify software. For example, Shopify comes with its own payment solutions, its own set of tools to organize the PoS, lets you choose the products from wonderful apps like Oberlo, place the orders and track them with its own unique tracking system.
As you can see, it is not comparable to WooCommerce and because it offers so many options, it is a paid software. Just like WooCommerce, it can also be integrated with WordPress and has many online guides plus YouTube videos.
Here’s one that explains in detail how you can integrate Shopify Lite with WordPress theme:
A Facebook business page is not only free, but it is also a very well-known online business place to start with. It is not a website, but it can make you just as much money that a website can. This is because Facebook takes care of everything and makes a business page just as customizable as a website is.
Here is the step by step process of setting up a Facebook page based e-commerce business.
Niche Research – As defined above, the first step is to find a niche. You can find the products that you can sell or the niche that suits you by following the steps defined in this guide.
Set up the page – Take your time, set up the page, learn how to tweak a Facebook page into something that looks like a website, and do not forget to choose a category that will let you have the Shop tab. For example, the ‘E-Commerce Website’ category lets you have the Shop tab.
Find drop-shipping networks – If you remember my guide on making money with CPA, you will recall that finding a good network was not only difficult but also the most rewarding chore.
Same is the case with drop-shipping; some companies offer peanuts to their affiliates, while others have a very limited listing. However, Doba, Salehoo and Sunrise Wholesale are a few reputable companies for starters.
Developing a Customer Base – This is where your little bank balance comes in handy.
You need to grow a list of 100 followers and then that needs to be grown into 1000 and you do not stop until that 1000 accumulates two more zeros and becomes 100,000. This cannot be achieved unless you pay Facebook to constantly show your page’s ad to the people who are interested in the type of products that you sell.
Remember: Not all of these 100,000 will be your customers. You will mostly get likes, shares, and messages, but only a few of those messages will mature into sales. Also, the likes and loyal visitors are actually to get sales when you do not have money for ads, or because you want to look like a legit online business.
Product Ad or Boosted Post – Alright, let us get to the nitty-gritty. Suppose you like a product on AliExpress or on any drop-shipping site. All you need to do is choose that product, get images from all angles (easily available on same website or internet) and either make a post of that product or run an ad.
The Facebook Ads Manager lets you use both as modes of promotion for a product and grab more and more customers. You can use their detail laser targeting options to drop the pin at the exact demographic you want to target and thus save money.
All you have to do is choose a product on a wholesale/drop-shipping network, try talking to the seller to see if they offer a discount on a certain number of sales, promote that product via Facebook Ad Manager and soon the orders will start rolling in.
Once you start getting orders, just log in to your account on that drop-shipping site, place the order and instead of giving them your address, give them the address of your customer. All done!
You will pay the wholesale network only the meager wholesale value and you will take home the retail price of the item that you charged your customers.
Pro Tip: In case you are selling consumer goods and those too that trend a lot e.g. some Halloween prank, trendy garbs, cell phone accessories, perfumes and similar items, it is always good to get the original item and pay a photographer to take high-quality images.
Images convert more than words and videos convert more than images. Have an original item video ready for the customers who will barge into your inbox to ask for video. And lastly, with those images, you can run an ad campaign on Instagram and get better results.
How to Set Up an E-commerce Store with International Audience?
Before we go back to the topics like marketing and e-commerce logistics in Pakistan, let us briefly discuss how to expand our reach and target the rich customers in Western countries.
The best way to do this is via Drop Shipping. Since I have not explained how you will sell items on your WordPress e-commerce site or Facebook page, it is important to discuss this here.
There are two ways to run an e-commerce store:
- With Inventory
- Through Drop-Shipping
While all of us know that keeping inventory not only require plenty of money but also requires space e.g. a warehouse, the drop shipping method is a foolproof method. In this method, the retailer only orders a product when they have already sold it to the customer.
This model is also called the pre-order or drop shipping model. You do not keep the inventory, but give your customer’s address to the drop-shipping site and the item is directly delivered to the customer. This is a risk-free model because no investment (except for marketing and other expenses) and space is required.
Assuming that you have done market research and chosen between Facebook business model and WordPress, here are the steps that you need to take next:
Find drop-shipping networks
If you remember my guide on making money with CPA, you will recall that finding a good network was not only difficult but also the most rewarding chore.
Same is the case with drop-shipping; some companies offer peanuts to their affiliates, while others have a very limited listing. However, Doba, Salehoo and Sunrise Wholesale are a few reputable companies for starters.
Let us first talk about Shopify.
Shopify has associated itself with drop-shipping: so much so that now most of the people think of Shopify whenever they think of drop-shipping. It is an online software as well and deals with everything that worries an online retailer.
Unless you want to go with WordPress, Shopify is the best platform to start with. Shopify’s biggest plus point is Oberlo. It lets you pick items straight outta AliExpress and sell them to your customers.
Facebook page is another option to go with international customers. As it has been discussed above, the laser targeting matters a lot and when you pick a product from a drop shipping site like Doba or AliExpress, all you have to do is market the product with precision-guided laser targeting and let customers fall victim to the urge to shop what interests them a lot.
However, remember that you cannot make a single sale to an international audience, until:
- You acted smart and found a wholesaler who provides your required items at lesser rates and faster delivery time.
- Your keyword research brought the right type of traffic to your store.
- You used high-quality images, even 360 images, and videos to boost your sales.
- You used retargeting techniques to target a visitor who came to the store and liked an item but left without buying.
Note – The lesser rates are required because you cannot make enough money until you sell an item for 2x the price, and if the wholesale price is already high, it will be difficult to find customers at a price 2x the wholesale price.
Also, the faster delivery time is highly recommended. In fact choose wholesalers who offer a fast delivery time, even if they charge for it. It is because free shipping is not only impossible to track, but it also takes a lifetime to reach the seller.
Marketing is the one skill that you should invest your time and money in to learn and if you do so, you can rock your niche and steamroll your competitors.
Here are some social media channels that help you market your products and make a really amazing return on income. Have a look and learn how to use them:
Yes! The big and blue ‘F’ takes the lion’s share when it comes to social media marketing and results. So much so, that now every offline business deems it necessary to have a Facebook page.
Since I have already discussed Facebook page tips above and I covered the marketing as well, I will leave this section and move to the next one with a pro tip.
Pro Tip – When in Facebook Ads Manager, once you are done with traffic and other details, choose the ad type and attach media, go for carousel instead of one image ad. As all of us know that Facebook limits the number of words that you can use in an ad. The image lets you choose a tagline for one image and if you go for carousel you can have more than one taglines to reach your target audience.
Instagram has fast become one of the most important social networking channels. Its unique style makes it second to none. Unlike sharing posts or writing tweets, in Instagram you only share snaps.
As personal as this channel may sound it is still used for business and people are making tremendous revenues out of nothing but one CPA network and one Instagram account.
In this section, we will see how you can use Instagram to attract the mother lode of traffic to your e-commerce store and make more sales.
- Audience – The kind of audience that you will find on Instagram is not moved by the same words that affect the audience on Facebook, but one that is bent on photos. Make sure that your Instagram ads feature DSLR quality images of the products that you are willing to sell.
- Approach – First of all let them know that you are a business. Turn your profile into a business profile and it will allow you to connect your Facebook page with your profile. Remember that you can have five accounts in addition to your actual account on Instagram. Use any of them as your business profile. With Facebook Ad Manager, you can boost Instagram posts as well. Choose ‘Conversion’ for ecommerce sales and take time to understand how Facebook/Instagram Ads Manager works.
Twitter came with a unique socializing model and very soon it was on everyone’s cell phone.
While you might think that all Twitter is good for is Pakistani celeb scandal tweets, there are people who promote tweets and make solid recurring income out of e-commerce business. Let us see the kind of audience you should expect there and how to approach them.
- Audience – The audience on Twitter is either not interested in business at all or it is there to do some serious business. All sorts of businesses and entrepreneurs keep their Twitter accounts to engage more and more visitors and later on, turn them into customers. Considering how Pakistan’s cell phone and social media buffs love to keep all important social media apps on their cell phone, this app is a must for advertising your products.
- Approach – First rule to engage the target audience is to make conversational tweets about the products, matters and holidays it is interested in. Make sure that you have your tweets ready before each holiday like Eid, Black Friday and other such occasions. Once done, make the tweets days before the holiday and promote those tweets. You can easily find settings like location, budget and other options once you choose to promote a tweet.
Yes, the wheels on which our products roll and reach our customers and come back with cold hard cash! In Pakistan, we have a few reputable logistics options such as TCS, Leopard, and M&P etc.
Logistics is the backbone of an ecommerce development companies. Sending your items to your customers and getting your money all depends on them. Roughly 80% of Pakistani online customers prefer cash on delivery since the culture of trust on e-commerce outlets will take some time to spread in the country.
Now let us have a look at three main shipments and COD companies that I have chosen for this guide.
TCS is one of the biggest courier companies in Pakistan and they are the proud owners of Yayvo as well. When it comes to TCS the consumers’ opinions can be better termed as a ‘mixed bag of everything’.
While people prefer TCS because of their reputation and speedy deliveries, there are those who complain of missed shipments and delayed payments.
Since I chose TCS as a courier service for my COD operations, I know that what I tasted was bad blood. Due to some problem with their data migration, the payments were not released on time and this made a bad impression.
However, where they’re good at is reduced costs and speedy deliveries. Their charges are competitive and they assign you a dedicated area manager to take care of all worries.
When you enter into a contract with an e-commerce store, TCS requires you to submit CNIC copy, an undertaking on a PKR 100 stamp paper, file a written application on company’s letterhead and application must be stamped with your company’s stamp.
Leaopards courier has been around for a while and if you ask someone about a trusted and reputable courier company, Leopard will be one of the companies that they will definitely mention.
While I have not used Leopard, I was definitely interested in their services because of TCS’ payment lag and because it is good to have an alternative in case of emergency.
Signing up with a new courier takes time and no one affords to waste time when customers are waiting. However, their rates turned me off.
For a 500-gram package, in your city, TCS will charge only PKR 110 exclusive of taxes and fuel adjustment, while Leopards charge PKR 165 exclusive of all charges and taxes.
However where they beat TCS is at inclusion. They do not demand you to have a company stamp or sign an Rs. 100 stamp paper; they just let you in and start dispatching orders with a copy of your CNIC.
To be fair, I never heard of M&P until I had to cross the bridge and join the ranks of COD armies. I have been an average user of courier services and except for TCS, Leopards and some others, I never heard of any other company.
However, when you talk to savvy internet entrepreneurs who have been in e-commerce for years, they recommend M&P as logistics of choice.
While in terms of area coverage, M&P does not beat TCS, and its reputation in terms of timely deliveries is somewhat shady; in terms of rates, they definitely beat TCS.
They charge PKR 80 for a 500-gram packaging within the city and even if we add fuel adjustments and taxes, the rates remain lesser than TCS rates inclusive of taxes and fuel adjustment.
What is COD?
COD is short for cash on delivery. This is a payment method that allows the customers to pay for a purchase only when they get the purchased item. Since 80% of customers in Pakistan prefer COD, there is no way for the e-commerce companies to ignore this method.
For the collection of cash, they have to trust the courier services. Almost all courier services that I have mentioned above pay the e-commerce companies on a weekly basis. So all the cash they collect on behalf of you is automatically transferred to your bank account on a weekly basis.
Selling on Pakistani Ecommerce Giants
If all this failed to impress you and all you want to do is to open an account on Daraz.pk or similar websites and start selling to their massively big range of customers, I can show you how to do it without risking failure.
Selling on Daraz.pk
Daraz.pk is Pakistan’s biggest e-commerce website as per the number of visitors as well as listings. However, the best thing for you is that they don’t restrict their seller membership to big or established brands and manufacturers.
This means that you can become a member and sell anything as long as it is not counterfeit or a replica of an original product. Here is how you can be a seller on Daraz.pk:
Become a Seller – Log on to https://www.daraz.pk/sell/ and scroll down to the ‘Start Selling’ button and press it.
Registration Process – Once clicked, this button will take you to a 3 step registration process.
Answer the questions and the next thing that you will see will be a form. Enter your name, cell phone number and other such details and on the next page, you will another form requesting more information.
This page is for more important information e.g. company address and banking information. Once you are done entering your NTN and bank account details and uploading an image of your cheque, you will be taken to the category page.
This is the last page, just enter the required details and click submit. They will then send you an email at your given email ID, go to the email, verify your account and start selling immediately.
They will also verify details like bank account and other stuff, but your listings will soon be put up on Daraz.pk.
As per the daily visits and sales etc. Yayvo is Pakistan’s second largest e-commerce store. While they are backed by TCS and they are moving at a steady pace, there is this problem with them which will turn off most e-commerce ninjas.
They are not very kind to people who are not manufacturers, dealers, brands or brand representatives etc. That being said, there are retailers who do not fall into these categories, but they are still selling their items at Yayvo.
This means that as long your products are not counterfeit or fakes of original products, you can sell on this portal. Here is how to do it:
Vendor Form – Go to https://yayvo.com/vendorform/view/index/ fill up the form. These are some basic details.
Unlike Daraz.pk their account does not take a multiple page form and after you submit these details, they verify the account via email and some other details as well. Once done successfully, you will be able to list your items here.
There was a time when Symbios saw the peak of success and then companies like Daraz and Yayvo left Symbios and many others behind because of the diversity of products and the ease of use, not to mention the huge number of listings.
Symbios is still doing great business and although their focus is on gadgets and electronics etc., they have all sorts of products listed on their website. Here is how you can become a Symbios seller:
Become Our Vendor – Yes, this is the page that you land on once you log on to http://www.symbios.pk/become-our-vendor, and once again, their registration is one page just like Yayvo and it makes it very easy for you to sell items on Symbios.
Once done with all basic information, go through captcha and verify the email account etc. Sooner than later you will be allowed by Symbios to list your items.
Here are frequently asked questions about how to set up an e-commerce business online in Pakistan.
- What happens when a customer returns my products?
Return expenses, expenses of shipping the exchanged item and marketing and similar expenses can only be covered if you adjust the percentage of these expenses in the price of your product. It is always safe to keep the price 2x of the wholesale price.
- What happens if my product is lost?
TCS and other reputed logistics partners have insurance plans to make sure that your products remain safe and if it’s lost, you are compensated. However, Leopards courier charges for this facility.
- How to find cheap wholesalers?
You have a few Chinese websites to buy from. These websites include AliExpress, Alibaba, and DHGate etc. While AliExpress is a retail website, there are many sellers there who are wholesalers.
- How do I get paid?
Most of the courier services that enter into a COD agreement with you, pay you on weekly basis and the amount is transferred to your bank account.
To sum up the things, I would request you to stay focused and choose whether you would like to go with the local audience or an international one. Since Pakistan is not even close to its e-commerce revenue threshold, I must say that there is a lot of space to cover.
Although the international market is big and deals in dollars, it is saturated as well. Especially in the case where you target the USA, you will have to fight tooth and nail.
Once you have segmented the market and narrowed down the niche, you can choose any mode. It can be a full-on e-commerce website, selling on forums like Shopify or Daraz.pk etc. or a meek Facebook page.
I would really love to read comments and critique on this work and see how I can learn from the exposure and experience of our learned visitors. If you have any suggestions, questions or concerns, leave them in the comment box below and we’ll try to cover all of them as soon as possible.