Black Friday in Pakistan: A Consumer’s Perspective

By Mohsin Hasan

At the end of this week, Americans will be celebrating Thanksgiving and then immediately following it by fighting and pepper spraying each other for merchandise available at exceptionally cheap rates. If you haven’t figured it out already, this phenomenon is called “Black Friday”.

Since last year, this concept of “Black Friday” has risen in Pakistan with some of the biggest e-commerce retailers in the country putting up their own desi versions of the same sale with the same hype if not the same level of discounts, products, ease for customers or customer services.

In fact last year, the largest e-commerce website in Pakistan broke several records in terms of sales (even if they were insignificant in terms of global or local retail economy). As unavoidable as this hype is, many consumers still remain skeptical and avoid buying online.

In fact, according to surveys conducted last year after the sales event, over 50% consumers who visited the online retailers did not buy anything because they either thought the discounts weren’t deep enough or the products they wanted were just not on sale.

So to put this in to numbers, if a retailer get a million visitors on the day of sale, it has automatically lost over half of them due to inefficient discounting strategies or for not having the right product mix. Another approximate 10% couldn’t place orders due to technical issues. That simply means the online retailers are ill equipped to handle so much traffic on their websites.

To cut the story short, only one-fourth of the customers felt satisfied with the sale.

So what exactly is wrong with these huge online sales?

While they seem to be overwhelming in the US, whom our e-commerce retailers are trying to copy, they seem to underperform by every measure in Pakistan.

Here are a few factors online retailers need to look at:

Trust Deficit

The first thing you need to address in a market like Pakistan is not price, it’s psychology. Online retailers have a huge trust gap and it is not entirely their fault. In a country where we believe “Sasta hai to ghatiya quality hogi ya rejected maal hoga” i.e. “If it’s cheap, it must be low quality or rejected product”.

The deep discounts in certain product categories can play a negative role. What additionally hampers the trust is the non-clarity of how the product can be replaced or returned in case of fault or damage.

As compared to the brick and mortar model where you can walk in to a shop with the defective product and have a physical target for your shopping woes induced anger, yelling on the phone and banging the keyboard while chatting is just not as satisfying.

Bad Customer Service

Immediate after the trust deficit, comes my personal favorite gripe (since I worked for CS for 11 years) which is Customer Services.

While the whole world is shifting towards better customer experiences and it is being considered the key differentiator of the future in all measures of service, only a handful of companies are actually working on it in Pakistan.

The problem with copy pasting an online sales model is that you don’t actually get to see what is going on behind the scenes to make it happen.

Personally, two of my close friends were delivered defective products and it took 1 month for a friend to replace his bought product, and it took 3 months, yes 3 WHOLE MONTHS for the other friend to get a refund, a refund which he didn’t initially want but the CS was so amazing that he just got fed up.

Discounts for the Sake of Being Sasta

You just CANNOT put a discount on 100 products which are worthless and no one cares about and call it a sale. Last year, when the hype caught on to smaller retailers, that is exactly what they did, put Rs.100 or Rs.200 discounts on crappy products that no one cares about.

Sale discounts need to be very targeted, especially in a country like Pakistan where we are always looking for high quality stuff on ever dropping rates. There needs to be proper time and input given to what needs to go on discount and how much of a discount can be given.

In the US, retailers not only have surveys to gauge what customers are looking for, they order excessive inventories well in advance to meet the demand.

Desi Black Friday is quite the opposite. That is why 50% consumers opted for Microsoft Window(s) shopping (yes that’s a pun).

Inability to Handle Website Traffic and Order Delivery

Last but not least, due to the improper inventory models and most online retailers not securing their own inventory but rather selling straight from other retailers, people have received their orders with up to 2 weeks of delays whereas the promised delivery times were a maximum of 3 to 7 days.

These delays were also, in certain cases, caused due to technical issues where sites kept crashing due to excessive loads and orders being stuck in digital limbo, only to be processed a day or two later.

To wind this up, I as a consumer who really wants to buy online but is reluctant due to the aforementioned issues and one who wants to see newer ways of buying usher in to Pakistan, hope that the e-commerce giants (mini-giants if there is such a thing) can learn a thing or two besides how to put up a sale.

Remember, now is no longer the era of just sales. It is the first and foremost an era of consumer experience.

So give the Pakistani online consumer an experience they can trust, enjoy and do so while buying what they want to, not what you have put on discount.

Mohsin is a customer care professional with over 10 years of experience with an OCD for good CS processes. He is an avid gamer, technology enthusiast, movie/tv buff and an occasional writer. 

Also Check: Over Black Friday 2016 Coverage

  • Muhammad Farooqi

    For Muslims Friday should never be as black…. But white Friday… Intact sellers in Pakistan should give discounts on EIDs and other Islamic days… Ramazan etc.
    If settlers have to voice discounts then why only on the and day when western cultures do…. Why not on Islamic calendar’s day. ? Giving discounts intending Muslim’s benefits would also give rewards in return… But who cares… We can earn more in Ramadan and can give maximum discounts on Valentine days….. Black Fridays… And days like that.. Shame on us.

    • Stone

      Completely agree with the discounts around eid and ramazan as that is when they are needed most. As for the whole Friday can’t be black for Muslims, tell that to the people who lost loved ones in bomb blasts during friday prayers. Yeh ajeeb logic hai. The event is called Black Friday, it doesn’t literally mean that the Friday is going to be a black day

      • Muhammad Farooqi

        That is the point. They invent days… Valentine days… Thanks giving days.. Halloween days.. Mother’s days… Father’s day… April fool day, eleven noember day….Yeh dayy and woh day.

        Being Muslim every day is for our father… Every day is for our mother… Every day should be for our spouse’s… But we are being trained with some things what we should be prior on them.

        Whatever you call this a black, orange, red white…. But why only on this day…. Do you remember any Muslim day, the western trend setters have ever high lighted as public discount day?

      • Muhammad

        We are one “maghloob” qaom with nothing indigenous and are over numbered by “wanna bees” specially in the youth.

        Why would any of our *wanna-be* not be really really excited about what the USA does right after thanks giving? Obviously they themselves have no value of what they already have (eid or ramadan etc).

        If I don’t care about what I own myself, why would anyone else care about it? And then when they treat our people or culture or religion as shit, we’re the first one to complain. “Amreeka ki sazish… Yahoodi Saazish” its sheer crap by our idiotic stupid youth and online shops and media.. in my humble opinion. (ok I know its not that humble, but I can’t find a better way to say it).

    • Aneef Izhar

      “For Muslims Friday should never be as black….”. Grow up. Do some reading on why the term black is used for sales.

      • Muhammad

        You could have had the courtesy of just writing that amazing impeccable reason in your comment instead of making an irresponsible comment. Please do some research yourself. There is no deep-rooted reason to attach black to sales. If there was, and if you knew it, you would have written here.

    • KMQ

      Dost Ramzan/Eid ka matlab humare pas hain lootna. Hum wahan par logon ki khal utarte hain, bas jo bhi ajae churi ke neeche.

      Aur yeh jo discounts hain abhi woh bhi same hi story hai 150 wali cheez 500 ki kardo phir 40% discount par 300 ki bech do, customer bhi khush seller bhi khush.

  • I wanted to buy an LED from a store, price 3 days before BF was 28.5K and today it’s 32.5K, on other store the product I bought 15 days ago (then returned because it was fake) at Rs.1350 is now listed 1850 after BF discount, other product which was 999 before BF, now listed price is 1600, on the ‘most popular (read most hyped)’ store, prices of all the items which I browsed before and after BF sale are either same or even higher. There might be some discount on some items but I am sharing what I witnessed !!!

    On the other hand, customers are expecting upto 80% discount on products with 10-20% profit margin, how is that possible, in west they offer upto 80% discount, because put 80-200% profit margin on the products in regular days.

    • IrfanAmir

      this is what our online stores do.. they increase the price and then show a discount with a price higher than original.. bloody suckers!

      • Aneef Izhar

        true! iPhone 7 is normally available everywhere for 73k-83k. On the same variant is being sold for 93k after giving discount of 2k from 95k. Bara ehsaan he inka hum pe

    • Mohsin Hassan

      Bus sir in short ziada tar online retailers Topi phira rahay hein and we are caught in the hype of it all unfortunately

    • Ahsan

      Absolutely. Our online stores are making people fool by either increasing prices or selling fake goods. I had recently purchased LG headphone from Daraz and despite their confirmation, it was fake.

  • Eli Ehsan

    Bang on mate. Absolutely agree with everything you mentioned.

    • Mohsin Hassan

      Thank you Sir!

  • Sobia

    Nicely put into words and exactly whats happening with these Black friday sales in Pakistan

  • KMQ

    Aare sir koi discount nahi hota ullu banate hain logon ko bas. Market main jo USB light 150 ki milti hai woh uski price 500 kar ke phir 40/50% discount par bech do 250/300 main.

    As I always say, YEH SAB GORAKH DHANDA HAI.

    • Ishtiaq

      Black fraud day consumers ka munh kaala karney ka din hai by these thugs. Is liye jitna ho sakay is kalak se bacha jaye. Yeh log consumers ko bewakoof samjhtay hain.

  • Hahaha There is one more example from Daraz. There is an item Farlin Manual Breast Pump sold by Daraz.Pk and Daraz uses 999 list price and cut it down to 569 with 43% off. Same item is sold by justbabymart at 370 rupees. Picture is attached. Welcome to the #BlackFriday.

    • Mohsin Hassan

      I think this one has more to do with individual retailers that are selling through Daraz. Daraz has a responsibility to streamline the prices where applicable and if the products are the same

      • FuriousNinja

        Some of those vendors sell very cheap or old items at exorbitant prices and there’s no way one can scold them for what they are doing. Lumia 535 which costs I think 7000 to 8000rs was going for more than Rs20000. Seriously? Daraz doesnt do shit in this regard.

  • College

    There are very small actual deals but over all its “Black Fraud Day”.

    They just raise the price and apply some discount

    Welcome to another “B.l.a.c.k F.r.a.u.d D.a.y”