OLX official sees portal on track to achieve growth

Published: September 11, 2018
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Marketing head puts Pakistan among the company's best performing markets. PHOTO: FILE

Marketing head puts Pakistan among the company's best performing markets. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Nouman Younas, a resident of Gulzar-e-Hijri in Karachi, succeeded in selling his dining table for Rs6,000 through the classified portal – OLX, which was double the price of Rs3,000 offered by different old furniture buyers.

“The web portal is helping people make better money from their used items; the portal is well on track to achieve financial growth,” said OLX Head of Marketing Muhammad Ammar Hassan while talking to The Express Tribune.

“Revenue is looking very strong and so far we have been able to touch our double-digit target,” he said.

Hassan called Pakistan one of the best performing markets out of 45 countries where OLX was operating.

“OLX has not yet opened all avenues of earnings, which makes it even more exciting what we have achieved without these.”

Talking about Pakistan’s position in the international market, OLX Pakistan CEO Bilal Bajwa told The Express Tribune that the digitally classified ad company divided regions into different business units like OLX Europe, OLX ALMEA, Letgo (US), Avito (US) and Dubizzle (UAE).

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“OLX Pakistan, which operates under OLX ALMEA, is very strongly positioned among top five markets of OLX ALMEA which also include India, Indonesia and Egypt,” he said.

OLX entered Pakistan’s e-commerce market in 2008. Following a good response, it decided to set up a local office, a rare phenomenon for Pakistan as big IT companies like Google and Facebook earn millions of dollars without physical presence in the country.

The company started proper operations along with marketing in Pakistan in 2012 as it had to deal with businessmen who made up 35% of the overall user base of the website. OLX has 75 employees in its offices in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

“After investing millions of dollars in Pakistani tech space, we started monetisation last year,” said the marketing head.

Generally, the website offers its services free of charge, but last year it started selling featured and banner ads to business users including real estate agents and auto dealers.

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Featured ads are a premium service which allows customers to display their ad on top of the website to get better visibility and response.

OLX, owned by the Naspers Group, has also invested in businesses around the globe including Flipkart.com, Delivery Hero, PayU and Similarweb.

People in Pakistan post more than 40,000 ads on OLX every day, which gets 21 million page views per day. “These numbers are 10 times bigger than any of the players operating in classified categories (online and offline),” Hassan claimed.

Automobiles including cars and bikes, property, mobile phones, electronics and jobs are major categories on the website. OLX Pakistan is improving technology with machine learning and artificial intelligence.

In late May 2018, the company announced an investment of $89 million in Carfirst, an international online used-car trading platform with 15 purchase centres in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

The purpose behind the investment was to go offline to make relationship with Pakistani customers stronger, remarked the CEO of OLX Pakistan. “We are disrupting many traditional businesses this way as we know either you disrupt others or get disrupted, so it’s better to disrupt others.”

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