KARACHI: Pakistan’s e-commerce marketplace failed to substantially increase its share on Eidul Fitr this year whereas shopping malls attracted throngs of people across the country who celebrated the event by buying new clothes, shoes and other such personal and gift items.
Although the number of people using internet to make purchases is increasing with 57 million broadband subscribers in Pakistan, the acceleration is not up to expectations as a large number of consumers are hesitant to place orders online fearing about quality, prices and product specifications as well as due to lack of choice and awareness.
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E-commerce players are continuously endeavouring to bring shoppers online, but it seems they have still a long way to go as consumers rely on brick and mortar retail stores. Estimates suggest that on average people spend Rs2,000 on preparation for Eid including household expenditures on family and friend gatherings.
According to a conservative estimate, people spent around Rs50 to Rs60 billion on Eid shopping in Karachi alone, the city which houses 10% of the country’s population of 207 million, said All Karachi Tajir Ittehad Chairman Atiq Mir.
Buyon.pk Co-founder Anum Kamran estimated an increase of 300% in online purchases before Eid compared to purchases at other times during the year, but online expenditures were very low compared to overall spending for celebrating the occasion.
“The ratio of people shopping online during Ramazan is one-fifth of the sales on White Friday. In the fasting month, we’ve sold 17.5% of what we sold on White Friday,” said TCS-ECOM CEO Salman Hasan.
People who shop for Eid have little exposure to online portals while international events like Blessed (White) Friday attract the upper middle or upper income class which is more familiar with online shopping. On the Blessed Friday, different brands offer huge discounts whereas on Eid it is the vice versa, making it less attractive for consumers to make purchases online.
“People tend to spend time with their families and dine out during Ramazan,” said the co-founder of Buyon.pk.
Also, in online purchases, the exchange of goods takes longer-than-usual time. “Nobody wants take risk on the occasion of Eid; suppose if a shirt or trouser is not of the appropriate size, the person will not be able to get it changed on time,” said Vaira.pk Co-founder Nadir Baig.
Yayvo, another portal for online shopping which is part of TCS-ECOM, has come up with the solution of delivering orders before deadline.
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“People shopped online and their orders were delivered before Eid,” Salman Hasan said, adding in order to cater to the demand from Eid shoppers, “we launched the Chand Raat Bazaar campaign on May 25 which ended on June 8 to ensure that products reach the consumers on schedule.”
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Psychologically speaking, consumers link online shopping more with non-traditional events such as the New Year and Blessed Friday.
The e-commerce industry was still at an early stage and key players were endeavouring to overcome the challenges, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2018.
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