Various recent studies have confirmed the fact that Pakistans ecommerce industry is growing fast and has the potential of expanding multi folds in the near future.
In Pakistan, there are 30 million internet users (Jabri, 2016). Among them online purchases have accounted for $30 million and are expected to grow (Jabri, 2016). But most of these purchases are recorded to be done far more than males relative to the female population. According to the Kaymu Ecommerce Report on 2015, 70% of the online purchases are done by males while only 30% are carried out by female internet users.
This figure is substantially low because of variety of reasons. There are some concerns which regard women more than men when shopping online. According to Sheikh et al (2015), the major concern is the hesitation problem in terms of psychological factors, social factors, emotional and privacy factors. Womens intention to shop is largely dependent on an experience of first hand narration from a reliable friend who shopped online. So word of mouth plays a strong role in their intention to buy online.
When a woman has to shop online, its mostly because of fashion related. Even though she would prefer to shop physically but if she faces some hinderance or wants to avoid the rush, she would open up her laptop or mobile app and start browsing. They also shop online if they cant find something similar in the shops which she knows or the fact that they are only available online and are in trend.
Many top online shopping websites in Pakistan, to which a large traffic of women come to make an online purchase, have been keeping track of their purchasing behavior. So according to them, there are high peak times, when there are a large number of potential female consumers looking for an online purchase, as well as low peak hours, when the female consumer traffic is low.
Each website may have different timings of their high peak and low peak hours, in terms of online purchases. But on average, according to Kaymu.pk e commerce report, Pakistanis make online purchases between 2:00pm to 8:00pm. According to Tesoro, they experience high peaks from Thursday to Sunday while the rest of the days are low peak days.
The female consumer intention to shop online has increased with the passage of time, with top clothing and accessories brands introducing their online stores. Brands like Sapphire, Khaadi, Elan, Tesoro etc. have launched their online stores thus giving the opportunity to women from far off areas to order their products online. They also enjoy a competitive advantage in terms of brand loyalty and brand recognition. Thus women are less hesitant to order online from their web portals. But if the situation is to order online from a platform like Daraz.pk or Yayvo.com, then they are forced to think twice.
Even when it comes to ordering fashion online, there is a trend among women of ordering items which are smaller in price range. This shows an undertone of skepticism while ordering online in Pakistan. They are hesitant to buy something with a hefty amount as it is important for them to physically examine it before intending to buy.
Furthermore, the mode of delivery and payment method also plays a major role in womens intention to shop online. Despite the availability of other payment methods, cash on delivery is the most common mode of payment among e-commerce users of Pakistan. This is mostly because of the physical association factor. As long as they dont physically see and touch the product, they will be skeptical of their money being lost. That is why COD is considered to be a convenient and secure mode of payment. Moreover, the delivery service enables women to avoid traffic, rush as well as extreme weathers in Pakistan. The most commonly used courier services among online stores for their order deliveries include TCS, Leopard and Blue Ex.
With such a large chunk of potential female e commerce users in the country, this segment of the market is surely a highly profitable one. If only the online businesses know how to cater to their needs and break their skepticism of purchasing online.