Launching an online store was always considered a bold move in Pakistan. However, thanks to the existence of services like Shopify and Bigcommerce, forming an online store can take just a matter of minutes, if you are quick and hungry enough. However, as easy as it may be to start an online store, the issues arise when you attempt to sustain the business. Here, we will be looking at five drawbacks of running an online store in Pakistan.
- Unclear customer services policy
The first drawback and might I add, the most important drawback of running an e-commerce store in Pakistan are poor and unclear customer services policies. In their haste to make a quick buck, none of the online stores present in Pakistan have successfully managed to introduce a well written and easy to understand customer services policy. Due to the tough competition among other e-commerce stores in Pakistan, these businesses are more inclined towards creating customer databases.
It’s a race among e-commerce stores to get more customers than their competitors in terms of numbers instead of claiming pride of having a better ratio of satisfied customers. I propose that the whole situation can easily be handled by creating an independent body to introduce some new laws for the sake of customers. This mandatory policy will compel online stores to focus more on customer services and an online store team will be able to take care of other issues as their secondary objective.
- Listing products without ever knowing their availability
This drawback affects both the owner and the customer since a negative impression is formed for the potential buyer. Every well-known e-commerce store lists everything on their website without even knowing if that said item could be available. Third party vendors are no different here as most of the stores cannot purchase in bulk from these vendors. This situation leads to a scenario where orders are received but the availability of the product is questioned. On the other hand, customers are continued to be given new delivery dates and things get worse with the passage of time.
- Relying on logistics for shipping items nationwide
There are not many stores that offer their own delivery system and due to the mindset developed of consumers purchasing from online stores, most of their revenue comes from the ‘cash on delivery’ system. Two big logistic companies, TCS and LCS are responsible for shipping out items where online stores do not have access to. Customers are really keen to get the product within 24 hours but their feelings are hurt when a courier service knocks on their door and forget what they actually ordered. As a result, product returns are in full swing and they prevent profit margin ratios from reaching new heights for online stores.
- Overwhelming competition
Thanks to the increasing competition, owners are forced to wage a price war against their competitors and put the burden of decreasing sales on their employees. Most of them are forced to either break even, or sell a particular product at a loss in order to gain an upper hand in the market, as well as a loyal customer. However, the issue of shipping through logistics arises again when customers receive their ordered items way after they were given an estimated time of arrival. Some of examples in particular that I would like to add were the Rs 9/- sale initiated by bytes.pk, techmela by Daraz.pk and white Friday by homeshopping.pk. These promotions perfectly reflect how important it is to bring a mutual understanding among online stores in order to lower the heat and make a combined effort to take the e-commerce industry to its potential crest.
- Scarcity of trained staff
The last drawback of running an online store in Pakistan is the scarcity of trained staff. Staff working in different e-commerce stores are unfortunately not trained enough to run the online business on a greater scale. Trained staff will also require sufficient knowledge of products but since owners have to keep in mind of the tough competition and make a profit in the shortest time possible, they hire untrained staff for a lesser amount of pay, which only makes things much worse than ever before. The concept of right man for right job is something which is need of the time but unfortunately, due to the fact that e-commerce industry is still relatively new, so there is a scarcity of highly trained staff in e-commerce industry.
From poor customer services to horrible profit margin ratios, I am pretty sure that if Amazon’s standards were being followed here then more than 50% of the prevailing online stores would have run out of the business by now. There is an urgent need of some superior independent body to take care of customer complaints or this rising business opportunity may be vanished without even seeing its peak.
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