Amazing E-Commerce Opportunities For Young Men And Women Enabling A New Breed Of Entrepreneurs To Join The Export Market.

By M Ziauddin

Amazon, the e-Commerce giant, has recently added Pakistan to its approved sellers list, making it the 102nd country on its platform. This is expected to open up new opportunities for young men and women enabling a new breed of entrepreneurs to join the export market. An important milestone, now Pakistani merchants will be able to sell their products on the platform with ease. It will mostly benefit Pakistan-based merchants who want to sell their products abroad. Amazon has a huge network. The potential of the marketplace on Amazon is three times bigger than any other e-Commerce platforms.

There are over 2 million people selling on Amazon worldwide. Almost anyone can list an item for sale on Amazon, whether it’s something you’ve purchased wholesale, made yourself or simply a product you no longer want. Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) is a business model that Amazon offers, which really is a game-changer for online businesses. Through the FBA programme you send your product inventory in bulk to an Amazon warehouse and when a customer purchases your product, Amazon packs up the product and sends it to the respective customers.

When you are selling products via FBA you do not have to fulfil individual orders, manage returns, or deal with customer service on issues regarding deliveries. You can send in hundreds or thousands of items to Amazon warehouse at the same time instead of running to the post office every day to ship your orders. One is advised to start with ordering small inventory at first. This approach enables you to test a product market and check whether the products you intend to sell belongs to an interesting niche and has the potential to get sold.

Targeted keywords are said to make a difference and these are so important in Amazon listings. With the right keywords in titles and descriptions of your products, you will, it said, quickly see your product searches relatively on the top and they will start getting sold well. It is recommended by Amazon experts that you get key insights, clear directions and a complete walk-through on how to sell well on Amazon FBA from Pakistan right now with Enabler’s training courses.

Firstly, you are expected to have to look at your competitors and find the profitable products relating to your product niche. Also you are recommended to do your research and look at Amazon’s best sellers as well. Moreover, you can use tools and services like AMZ Scout or Smasher to get all the related data of the products you are interested in like their competitor Intel, monthly sales and more.

It is also recommended that you photograph your product from different angles, including close ups, in operation mode, and its scaling size picture too. Also, you can add 3D images and videos of the product to make it more engaging. Amazon allows up to 250 characters to be used for product titles, but that does not mean that you have to use all the 250 characters. Optimize your bullet points about the description of the product, so that when the customer lands on your product page, they should see all the details regarding the product. Publish reviews: If 200 people are saying product 1 is great and very few people are saying anything about product 2, then guess which one of the products you are going to get?

Pakistan’s e-Commerce industry is emerging rapidly and has the potential to strengthen country’s economy. The existing ICT infrastructure is linking remote areas to mainstream. At the National e-Commerce Council, a policy framework discusses the views and concerns of all stakeholders and makes recommendations based on them. The proposed policy framework tends to facilitate freelance service providers, existing e-Commerce businesses and encourage entities involved in traditional commerce to venture into e-Commerce, thereby improving prospects of productivity, generation of new employment opportunities and enhanced levels of consumer protection.

UNCTAD’s latest figures reveal that global e-Commerce sales grew 13% in 2017 and reached an estimated $29 trillion. The number of online shoppers grew by 12% and reached 1.3 billion. While most of the online buyers preferred their local markets, yet cross-border buying increased from 15% in 2015 to 21% in 2017. According to UNCTAD this growth was mainly driven by online buyers in the United States.

In Pakistan e-Commerce has strong potential to expand and to help accelerate national economic growth. Pakistan, which has about 60% of its more than 200 million population in the 15 to 29 age group, represents an enormous human and knowledge capital; has more than 5000 IT companies & call centers and the number is growing every year; has more than 300,000 English-speaking IT professionals with expertise in current and emerging IT products and technologies and; is among the economies where digitization is triggering changes in some components of the service sector.

The shift is most prominent in areas like e-Commerce, fintech, and e-government, where new ventures and approaches to deliver services are picking. Specifically, the market size of e-Commerce has grown significantly in Pakistan over the last few years, transforming the way consumers interact with – and especially pay businesses. As per UNCTAD’s B2C e-Commerce Index, in 2017 Pakistan ranked 120 (out of 144 countries) on e-Commerce readiness index with a score of 24.0.

However, a noticeable surge has been witnessed in recent past in the number of online vendors, local e-Commerce platforms, online payment facilities introduced by banks and large cellular service providers. Improved internet accessibility and significant efforts of the government for financial inclusion in most parts of the country can be rightly credited for this. PTA’s data reveals that, as of July 2019, there were 161 million cellular subscribers, 70 million 3G/4G subscribers and 72 million broadband subscribers and total tele-density of 76.56%.

From 2017-2018, the number of local e-Commerce merchants increased 2.6 times and e-Commerce payments increased by 2.3 times in just 12 months. SBP’s annual report on the State of Economy 2017-18 shows that sales of local and international e-Commerce merchants were Rs 20.7 billion in 2017 growing by 93.7% in 2018 to reach Rs 40.1 billion. These figures do not include all the post-paid cash-on-delivery transactions which account for 60% of the total value of e-Commerce in Pakistan. There are more than 3.2 million SME units in Pakistan accounting for 98% of all the enterprises. The sector employs nearly 78 percent of the non-agriculture labor force in Pakistan and contributes more than 30% to Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product.

Logistics are the processes of shipping order to customers or transporting an inventory to a merchant. The logistics process keeps a track of goods in transit and up unto the point of delivery. Worldwide, e-Commerce companies outsource their logistics to third-party logistics companies (3PLs) that specialize in transport and storage, to make it cost effective, e.g., postal services, private courier service providers and cargo services. The use of technology by these 3PLs has significantly improved the tracking of shipments/goods due to which there is a sharp decline in goods that go missing during transit.

Moreover, road infrastructure is also an important factor for efficient and timely shipment/delivery of goods/services. In the last 3 decades, Pakistan has developed a reasonably good road infrastructure and 3PLs, both at public and private sector, which in turn have improved reach and reliability of logistics services.

Apart from the private sector courier services (3PLs), which are quite efficient and innovative, Pakistan Post has also developed the ability to play an active role in e-Commerce. In January 2019, it launched its first mobile application and export parcel service “EMS Plus” which will facilitate especially small businesses to send their consignments/parcels abroad to any destination within 72 hours. At present, exporters can avail this service for sending their consignments (of 30kg or below) to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Japan, the UK, Thailand and Australia. The most attractive feature of this service is its cost competitiveness with private courier services.

While the government is expected to play a lead role in catalyzing, supporting and coordinating the e-commerce initiative, it would need to secure a commitment by the private sector to empower youth and SMEs for the task. This initiative is composed of the following components: (a) e-Commerce Youth Volunteering Programme, aimed at soliciting the help of unemployed university graduates to help SMEs build websites or to create virtual stores on e-commerce platforms; (b) the construction of a local language freelancing platform aimed at connecting freelancers with SMEs seeking assistance with e-Commerce related services; (c) the formation of a virtual network and platform for young entrepreneurs and freelancers to connect with incubators, entrepreneurial institutes and tech parks targeting e-commerce and digital market opportunities; and (d) the creation of digital content and a marketing hub for Urdu and English contents in the industry’s key tech parks aimed at leveraging the large youth population.

This news was originally published at B Recorder.