According to stats from LinkedIn, over 1,000 Pakistani’s identify themselves as conversion optimization professionals since 2012. The shift from brand awareness to measurable results sent shock-waves through branding circles, causing many to re-evaluate how they measure success. We spoke to the CEO heading Daraz.pk, Pakistan largest eCommerce venture and the nation’s largest investor & practitioner of contextual online marketing.
If you had a million dollars what would you do?
How has the response been so far?
The one thing that changed drastically was the perception. People didn’t believe in eCommerce & Pakistan. Lack of quality supply is misconstrued for lack of demand. The challenge was to convince the global brands. We’ve changed the face of eCommerce in Pakistan. When people want to buy something they come to Daraz to check prices. We’ve made shopping online something people accept as a reality. We have something like 38,000 products on the website. People can find the best collection of brands at the best possible pricing. That access has been game changing. Half the orders have been outside for KLI. Thanks to Daraz everyone has access to this.
EatOye was acquired by FoodPanda. Any similar plans?
To be honest, we don’t have a competitor. Started with fashion, and now lifestyle. Lots of brands have their own online stores but they sell with us as well.
You’re able to recruit top talent from the biggest names in the country. How have you invested in employer branding?
We’ve achieve a lot more in a short period of time and top talent wants to be part of a deliverable focused culture. Here, it doesn’t matter where you sit, results trump everything.
What is holding your growth back?
The local structure. There are over 170 million citizens and the government overstates the number of people online.
How did you leverage in 3G and 4G inclusion?
We rolled out apps. We’ve had a mobile optimized site from day one and launched the app this year. While visits are high, conversions are not which we attribute to less data and other factors. For us, every single Pakistani is a customer. We justified this investment because trends shows that in the future, a lot of people will simply be online from their phones.
What are the top categories in sales?
Fashion apparel, but it changes with seasons. For women its mostly eastern wear and the opposite with men. Cell phones sell well all year around.
What are the top categories based on your insights, in terms of growth?
The three factors for a product to sell are its brand strategy, the product itself and its pricing. Those who fail are the one’s that have failed to invest in the branding & VP.
Any plans for location based marketing or services to drive footfall to vendor outlets?
That is extremely unlikely. We’re marketing for orders or creating general engagement. Our business is just to sell stuff online.
Any plans to become the Foodem of fashion & apparel?
No plans. That’s not our core business. What we’re sitting on is such a big opportunity, anything else is a waste of time.
What are the qualities of MD’s / Co-Founders of RI?
Overall business sense, understanding the value of every single decision. Having that structure & understanding in place. The ability to listen. Good problem solving skills. Varies with markets, ventures & industries.
What would you advise the replicators or new entrants to focus on?
Invest half your raised investment on contextual marketing and build the infrastructure, and later the assortment range.
What’s the agenda for 2015?
To become the destination for all products searched in Pakistan. Instead of Google, we want people to search on Daraz.
What experiences have helped you in your current role?
The turnaround at Karachi Electric and working with start-up’s in commodities.
Why aren’t more businesses coming out of incubators?
Ideas and business plans are important but execution matters more. Lack of funding is a set back creator.
What was the rationale behind getting Unilever for their family packs?
It was base on logic and is not unique in any way since we have worked with similar brands. We are giving people access to something they already demand. UPL was very interested in this space, and having a digital presence.
Thanks for your time Farees :)