Daraz, the Pakistan e-commerce platform, is developing ambitious plans off the back of the expertise it has gained following last year’s acquisition by Alibaba.

“We have become a ‘brand new’ Daraz as all our processes (including our advertising, customer service, purchasing, retail and transportation) have improved significantly,” Ehsan Saya, MD, Daraz Pakistan, told Aurora recently.

News features such as the DarazMall and the Daraz Wallet also attest to the influence of the Chinese e-commerce giant, while the number of products available to buyers has soared from around 400,000 to more than 4 million and the platform is adding new sellers at the rate of over 2,000 a month.

“By 2022, we want to increase our customer base to 25 million and acquire 200,000 active sellers,” Saya stated.

Counter-intuitively, Daraz has built 46 brick-and-mortar stores in 19 cities over the past year.

“The mindset in Pakistan is that ‘If I can’t see it, I can’t believe it’,” Saya explained. “The physical presence of a store makes people believe that Daraz is ‘real’ and this results in them starting to trust Daraz as it increases in visibility.”

And, given the challenge of logistics in the country, the stores also serve as venues to pick-up and return orders.

But they are more than that: “We have opened these stores in central locations, to encourage people to use them as communal spaces, have a cup of tea, interact with each other, use our free WiFi, or watch a cricket match,” said Saya.

“As far as second-tier cities are concerned, our shops provide customers with products that are not available easily such as FMCGs,” he added.

In addition to increasing the number of buyers and sellers, Daraz aims to increase digital payments – 80% of transactions are currently cash on delivery – and Saya reported that “the response to Daraz Wallet has been promising”.

“However, what is important is to give customers as many options as possible from a payment perspective which is why we have banking partners, as well as digital wallets such as Easypaisa and Jazz Cash,” he said.

Sourced from Aurora; additional content by WARC staff