By Shahrukh Chaudhry
Shahrukh Chaudhry, the man behind “Dealtoday.pk”. A growing online store in Pakistan. His marketing primarily revolves round Facebook; the only medium which has a sizeable audience in Pakistan.
He started with Facebook in 2010 with a lot of other brands. The sole strategy he has used since day one. Now his Facebook page has over 800,000 fans. He will tell you the seven ways in which you can start an e-commerce business in Pakistan.
Develop a Lucrative Website
Buy a domain and make a website. Alternatively, make it from someone. It is as simple. However, it may look simple from the outside but many things are involved from the inside. Websites have changed. Previously websites were like a visiting card. You made it but then you forgot about it. Now websites are evolving every day.
We do our won photography. The description, caption, information, everything is personally designed by us. It’s like a shop where we have neatly placed the products. It’s their product but we have to sell it. So we have to make sure it looks buyable. If you come to a nice little shop, you would want to come again and again. And may be buy something!
Customized Web and a Facebook Page
If you know how to customize your website, then life would be pretty easier! However, like me, if you don’t know then you have to hire someone. Remember, this is a major cost in the business. Then you have to make a list of the appropriate vendors. No compromise on quality should be made in this regard. After that you do the online marketing. Generally people believe that you pay $5 on Facebook and everything gets done! This is not the case. Facebook has evolved in the last 3 years. It is not simple as it was back then. Facebook has figured out how to make more money out of this. As the medium is consistently evolving, so you also change your strategies accordingly.
Mode of Payment
The most frequently asked question is how to receive money from customers. The most effective method today is cash collection from home.
We have credit card option available now. Previously only 3, 4 companies offered this facility e.g. Daraz.pk. Till few months back, I myself didn’t have this option but now we are in the process of implementing it. Nevertheless, cash on delivery option will still be available for general customer comfortability. People don’t have credit cards. Visa debit card is its next stage. Even if most people don’t have credit cards, some people will still have a debit card. This is because people are slowly converting. You don’t need to carry cash with you now. But it’s not 100% converted. Cash on delivery will still remain an option. Nevertheless, a few companies strictly adhere to no cash collection policy.
In order to 100% convert this existing system, the e-commerce websites will have to decide that from now onwards we will stop the cash collection. Of course no one will take this step in the next 5 years (at least!). Bold step has to be taken by someone. This is because there’s a huge difference between credit cards and collection by cash. If it costs you Rs. 1 on credit card then it will cost you Rs. 3 on cash on delivery. It’s a simple 1:3 ratio.
We, the e-commerce websites have to improve the customer relations. We have to convince the customers, give them benefits. We’ll figure out those steps but still, we have to decide whether to movie the credit card or not (keeping in mind, cost of doing business will remain high otherwise in terms of cash collection). Therefore, I would love to eliminate it. However, for the mean time, we don’t have a choice!
Customer service is our biggest challenge. We are very focused on customer service. The reason for that is, we cannot lose the customer (since our medium’s audience is already less). Now with the change in Industry, the customer’s psyche has also changed e.g. you visit a restaurant. You don’t like the food. You won’t say, I won’t eat out again. You will say, I will not eat out here again! There’s a difference in the online world. It’s a new industry. So if a customer faces a bad experience, he will say this medium is not worthy and he will never buy online again. Over a period, he will realize that this is an industry. There are good people in it, there are bad people. This is good website, this is a bad website!
We try our best to build a relationship with the customer that if a problem arises, we will resolve it. We have seven team members exclusively designated for customer service. We have a lot of avenues where the customer interacts with us. Our Fb page, queries via e-mail, online chat and phone calls. When you go online, a lot of avenues open up. We cannot make the customer wait. When someone asks a question, we have to answer it as soon as possible. We have to make sure that we resolve the any given problem instantly. The only problem is customer’s skepticism level is very high. We do make mistakes (no company is mistake free) but we also learn from them. Since the skepticism, level is high so when we receive a negative feedback it is usually quite strong! We do try not to lose our customer, since our customer acquiring cost is too high.
Attracting the Customers
We have built our entire audience via Facebook. In order to sell something online in Pakistan, you have to keep in mind two things:
Your offering has to be unique
You have to give price incentive to the customer
Therefore, if you have a unique plus price incentive offering, it makes a perfect combination.