There was a time when businesses relied on their physical presence to attract customers and for daily productivity. Now it’s the era of digital advertising, online marketing, selling, and procurement. Internet Shopping is now a widespread global phenomena, and many companies derive a significant portion of their revenues through online purchases. E-commerce has become a 100 billion dollar market with a growth rate of almost seventy percent per year. E-tailing is the second fastest growing online commerce segment after online travel bookings, say industry experts. The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has pegged the size of net commerce in India at about Rs. 31,598 crore in 2010 and it is growing at 10 to 15% per year. However, and sadly, this segment is still struggling to kick a start in Pakistan because of the various social problems and technical complexities involved with business development and entrepreneurship in Pakistan.
There are several important factors that ensure that Ecommerce or online shopping is still a relatively immature category in Pakistan due. These include the unavailability of secured payment systems, expensive shipping models, and a lack of interest by mature business investors. ShopHive.com & Beliscity.com are among the few daring online shopping websites that have taken on the e-tailing business in Pakistan and are looking to expand this currently stunted market. www.Shophive.com was launched in 2005 and has become the sole source of online E-Commerce in audio and visual equipment, computers, mobile phones and various related accessories. Shophive specializes in veritably every kind of electronics and tech related product. The owners say that by providing warranties and manufacturer certifications, they are able to guarantee their products completely, unlike shops and stores that may or may not have warranties and rarely have certifications. The website through its various online safety and trust services provides adequate guarantee to buyers as well as the offering free home delivery anywhere in Pakistan.
Shophive employs both online and offline payment service facilities including Cash on Delivery in Lahore, Cheque on Delivery, acceptance of local Master and Visa Credit cards (again in Lahore only), money orders, demand drafts, Western Union Wire Transfer and national level payment acceptance of online bank transfers from United Bank Limited and Muslim Commercial Bank. Shophive does not ship outside Pakistan, though it offers free shipping anywhere in Pakistan. The company provides same day delivery in Lahore through its own delivery staff and same day dispatches to other cities by courier services.
With this kind of comprehensive delivery, certification and payment mechanisms, it’s hardly a wonder that Shophive.com is growing exponentially. Most importantly, the owners of Shophive have struck upon a segment of the market that is so far underdeveloped and underserviced; a niche market currently but one that’s sure to expand as mechanisms improve. The demand, however, is there and the response is not slow in coming. With many people switching online for their news, entertainment and data needs, the chances are the e-business in Pakistan is going to take a similar path to the cellular industry, which identified a here to fore unknown market and capitalized on demand. Pakistan’s consumer market is a lot more sophisticated than it first appears and it mostly lacks the mechanisms to function efficiently. As companies like Shophive continue to grow it seems likely they will push for market evolution and better delivery systems. This in turn should help the market to evolve and allow sellers to more accurately gauge consumer demands. Better communication of what consumers need is what is happening today and as is does it seems like e-tailing has only one place to go – up.