KARACHI: The new management of Pakistan’s largest e-commerce platform, daraz.pk, which has been acquired by China’s Alibaba, has planned to expand its outreach as well as its range of products in an effort to attract more online customers, but the products will not be Chinese made.

E-commerce giant Alibaba has recently taken over Rocket Internet’s Daraz Group in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Nepal by acquiring 100% shareholding. Of these, Pakistan is the biggest market for the group with around 5 million customers.

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“Cross-border trade is an important part of the future, but in the first place we will focus on enabling local sellers to offer their products to all consumers in their home countries,” said Daraz’s new management in a statement.

However, industry experts believe there is a great chance that Alibaba will bring Chinese products to Pakistan as well because it offers products of various qualities in accordance with market needs.

“Pakistan’s e-commerce market is likely to cross $1 billion this year, which is two years ahead of earlier projections,” said Adam Dawood, head of Yayvo, an online shopping portal that is part of TCS E-Com.

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Online marketplace Daraz started running in June 2012 with five staff members, but now it employs about 1,000 people across Pakistan and plans to recruit more after acquisition by Alibaba.

The internet-based company wants to focus more on its app rather than its website, encouraged by a rapid growth in mobile broadband users in Pakistan that have reached 55 million, according to latest data of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

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“We have observed that investment in mobile application gives higher returns than the website as app users show more loyalty once they download it,” said Syed Mehdi Raza, Director Marketing of Daraz, while talking to The Express Tribune.

The online marketplace after coming under the supervision of Chinese business magnate Jack Ma is increasing its range of products beyond a few large categories like electronics, fashion items, appliances, etc in the e-commerce ecosystem of South Asia where the company has 30,000 sellers and 500 brands.

“When one needs keychain, Daraz should come in mind,” said the director marketing.

In its expansion drive, Daraz has established its hubs in Karachi, Lahore, Gujranwala, Sialkot and other cities which are soon going to be inaugurated.

“We will also be investing in logistics to make sure our services reach consumers everywhere,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2018.

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