Last year has resulted in exponential growth of the ecommerce industry in Pakistan. We have witnessed strong movement in the sector in terms of overall sales and customer acquisitions. Traditional industries have also started to benefit from this trend and have begun to move towards partnering with online stores to increase their revenues. This growth is coming in due to some exciting partnerships taking place, however a lot remains to be fixed as well if we are to hit $1 Billion in ecommerce revenue by 2020.
Let’s start by examining the biggest event of the year for the ecommerce – Black Friday. In November 2015, Daraz introduced Black Friday to Pakistan with great fanfare. In 2016, Black Friday was much bigger, both in term of sales revenue, customer acquisitions and the number of ecommerce sites who participated by offering extraordinary discounts.
Daraz & Kaymu’s revenue surpassed Rs 1 Billion during Black Friday, Yayvo.com exceeded 60,000 orders and though other stores have yet to reveal numbers, HomeShopping, Symbios, Shophive all participated aggressively. New entrants such as MyGerry’s also used Black Friday as a launching pad for entry into the ecommerce arena.
Black Friday achieved a cornerstone in retail, to the extent that it permanently left its mark as the pinnacle event in Pakistan for both offline and online channels. The comparison is similar to that of Singles Day in China, and the Big Sales held by our Indian counterparts around Diwali.
Black Friday has become such a milestone for the ecommerce sector because it witnessed major economic partners aligning themselves together to create the necessary ecosystem needed to facilitate online shopping. JazzCash & EasyPay worked hand in hand as the main payment partners with Yayvo & Daraz respectively. Furthermore major banks offered additional discounts to their Credit and Debit card holders to help push prepayments. This in itself was a major move for the industry away from the Cash on Delivery payment method which accounts for more than 90% of sales during the rest of year.
Multinationals who own brands such as Dove, Ponds and many others also partnered with major ecommerce players to help bring their products to a wider audience. All in all Black Friday pushed the ecommerce industry into the mainstream and proved to Pakistan that it in fact offers a truly viable future for the country’s retail industry.
Overall Market Size of ecommerce in Pakistan
There are many estimates floating around as to how big the ecommerce market is in Pakistan. We must first divide up the ecommerce sector into various smaller divisions. This allows us to understand the dynamics of each sector in a more comprehensive manner in order to estimate sales volumes.
- Marketplaces or Multi-Category Stores
- Tier 1 Stores: These are your multi-retailer and multi-category online stores. The biggest ones of the pack are Daraz, Kaymu & Yayvo, with other e-tailers such as HomeShopping, Symbios, Shophive, Telemart also competing.
- Tier 2 Stores: There are stores which have been present for some time or have recently received investments and are pushing hard to enter the Tier 1 category. Stores such as Well.pk, GoTo, The Warehouse are all part of this group.
- Tier 3 Stores: This would be a very large collection of e-stores that are trying to compete via a niche category or as a multi-category store with a very limited team and marketing budget.
- Facebook Stores/Group: These comprise of another considerably large segment and sales volume, with examples such as Sheops taking top spot.
- Brand Stores: This segment includes e-tailer’s such as Khaadi, Ego and Gul Ahmed who enjoy strong brand awareness but are primarily focused on sales through brick and mortar means. These stores generally have a high volume of sales and their basket size (AOV) is high. It’s a good testing ground for new products for brands and gives them the reach to capitalise on their brand identity without investing in retail locations across the country.
- Food/Takeaway Model: Enjoys a considerably large market in Pakistan monopolised by FoodPanda and EatOye.
- Travel, Ticketing & Holiday: Players such as Jovago sell hotel bookings and even PIA, Shaheen & AirBlue. Traditionally these airlines and other transportation service providers are not associated with ecommerce however they do conduct a sizeable amount of their sales online. Pakistan Railways alone made Rs 100 million through e-ticketing in 2 months.
- Ride Sharing: These include Uber and Careem along with sites such as Travly giving local competition.
- Classified: These are listing sites such as PakWheels, Zameen.com, Rozee and of course OLX.
Based on my knowledge and collection of data, I estimate in 2016 overall gross revenues stood well north of $120 million.
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