Do you want to start an E-commerce business?
An enticing yet simple question that is conceived by half of the population during the Corona virus Pandemic this year. It is a challenging question that warrants careful thought process, market research, clear vision, financial standing, and a viable product, however, it is not something that is entirely impossible to do.
After carefully examining the top ranking global economies and top ranking e-commerce companies, we were able to conclude that with the ongoing digital transformation, e-commerce can be a game changer for economies and a gateway to opportunity for startups.
“E-commerce market in Pakistan is
expected to grow up to $1 billion
by 2020.” (Tribune)
Pakistan stands at 43rd rank out of 50 countries as per International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook (October – 2018) . It is still far behind most countries in the realm of e-commerce, but it’s growing at a fair pace. Pakistan’s e-commerce market witnessed a tremendous boom during the year 2017-2018 with an estimated 93.7% growth (according to State Bank of Pakistan’s report). Sales recorded for the year 2017 were Rs. 20.7 billion while in 2018 this amount almost doubled to Rs. 40.1 billion!
We are witnessing a massive growth in Pakistan’s e-commerce because of startups joining the service sector and coming up with innovative ideas to provide services in the country like never before.
The e-commerce market in Pakistan is expected to grow up to $1 billion by 2020 (Tribune) and much of this growth is expected to be fueled by the rapid increase in the number of internet users in the country and the falling prices of smartphones. Currently there are 44.61 million internet users on a daily basis and 37 million active social media users in Pakistan. it is expected that 30% of the population will further gain access to the internet in the next 4 to 5 years. The increasing penetration of internet and smartphones is adding up to the online customer base everyday, hence e-commerce can be looked upon as a promising ground for startups.
The growing e-commerce trends are backed by several factors which can enhance the opportunities available to startups in Pakistan. Here is how you can benefit from some amazing opportunities on the internet!
✔ Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence may soon be the most disruptive force in E-commerce. You can use AI to Improve customer recommendations with items frequently bought together or bought as an alternative. You can automate your customer service experience through chat-bots to provide more information to your sales team. You can improve customer interaction by sending automated engagement emails and responses based on customer interactions and information. You can also learn more about your customers and how to market to them with big data analytics and analysis. AI is a great support for businesses and consumers alike.
✔ Digital Marketing
Internet is a prime channel for suppliers to connect with customers and to advertise products in new markets. Digital marketing is allowing startups to “Go Global” and operate in several countries at a time. Markets are transforming in Pakistan rapidly and with 3G/4G services it has become easier for all types of customers to access online services.
Apart from the above mentioned opportunities, Artificial intelligence has also transformed how digital marketing is carried out! From collecting data, analyzing it, learning from it and making suggestions based on it, AI has taken control of everything!
With the help of social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Digital marketing has changed advertising methods and the way opinions are formed. Now, e-commerce businesses are not only collecting numbers through data collection, but are also tracking the whole customer journey on the web which is helping them monetize shopping trends in a more effective manner.
✔ 5G (Fifth Generation) Wireless
Our everyday use apps such as Careem, Foodpanda, Uber, etc. wouldn’t have been operating successfully today if not for the 3G and 4G. Well now, the country is all set to launch 5G services and it will transform the way we live, learn and operate. The launch of 5G will give birth to a whole new industry and will give rise to new possibilities. Startups around the world are now brainstorming over how to use 5G’s challenges and opportunities to create businesses!
5G will boost the speed of smartphones, enable hybrid and cloud applications, including cloud-based graphics rendering and machine learning. With this expanded capacity, virtual reality augmented reality and gaming will all see a massive improvement. The gigabit speeds of 5G will also eliminate the need for wires and can support 10 times as many devices hence, also reducing the power consumption. All these features are expected to have massive impact on businesses and their operations.
5G will also take virtual and augmented reality to mainstream! Are you amazed yet? Well guess what, there’s more to it! Sephora’s Virtual Artist app is using AI for online beauty shoppers. You can try out different lip colors, eyelash thickness, eye-shadow and cheek colors. By trying on several shades in one click, you can easily see what colors look good and which look bad. This virtual experience is even better than an in-person experience where you’d have to apply and remove makeup until you’ve found one you like.
Startups around the world are not only looking into how they can benefit from the features of 5G, but also the challenges attached to its launch. Start up company SenSat Technology uses simulated realities of major urban areas to extract actionable insights using machine learning techniques. This reduces the roll-out cost for telecommunications companies for 5G and ultimately, the cost of 5G for consumers.
5G also brings a new wave of threats regarding cyber security and Garrison Technology have pioneered an innovative security platform to counter the threat of persistent and targeted attacks, which exploit corporate internet connectivity.
Pakistan is gearing up to become a cashless country. E-money continues to rapidly gain popularity and has grown to the extent that State bank had to take it seriously. Finally the regulations have been formed to address potential risks attached to e-money in order to ensure consumer protection. These regulations have been formed in line with legal framework of Pakistan while promoting digital payments and financial inclusion. Although a number of Payment Gateways have emerged over the years, the most used method of payment remains Cash on Delivery [COD] with 95% online customers using it. COD is not the best mode of payment for e-commerce startups due to many loopholes attached to it, such as payment delays, fake returns, etc. However, this fact can not be ignored either that it has contributed greatly to the growth of e-commerce by allowing customers to build trust on online retailers by giving a sense of control to the customers.
Cash on delivery is the most used
method of payment with
95% online customers using it.
✔ Entrepreneurial culture
Pakistanis have always been entrepreneurial by nature, as a great ratio of our GDP is contributed by SMEs. However, recently innovation has become a hot subject in entrepreneurial ecosystem of the country. What we are seeing now are more Innovation Driven Enterprises (IDEs) or Startups. Incubation centers and accelerators are increasingly gaining popularity in the country and Startups are now able to get guidance more easily. This encouraging culture has led to some major startups coming out of the ecosystem such as Patari, Rozee.pk, Ghar Par, PakWheels, Zameen.com, etc. and many others are on the way!
Today, we are not limited by our tools but by our imagination. E-commerce is a great opportunity for young startups with very low operational cost and various opportunities. So many new avenues are now available to Startups unlike before. It’s only fair for the world to expect more unicorns now, and why not from Pakistan?
Are you a startup looking for opportunities that are available for e-commerce businesses? Well, what are you waiting for!?