Saturday, November 28, 2015

Black Friday in Pakistan?

Pakistan saw its first Black Friday sales this year. These retail sales were on at both brick-and-mortar stores and e-tailers like There were also media reports indicating similar sales in the UK and other countries as well.  For those unfamiliar with Black Friday, let me explain what it is.

Black Friday, a day of mega sales by retailers, follows Thanksgiving Day in America. Black Friday marks the start of the annual Christmas shopping season that accounts for about half the annual retail revenue and much of the profits earned by US retailers.

Thanksgiving is a quintessential American holiday that commemorates the arrival of European "Pilgrims" fleeing religious persecution across the Atlantic. It is celebrated with a dinner of turkey, cranberries and corn that made up the feast offered by native Americans, also known as American Indians, to welcome the hungry and tired Europeans in this continent of North America. President Barack Obama used the occasion to remind today's Americans of their duty to welcome those who are fleeing persecution in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. Here's what the President said:

“Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims – men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families. What makes America America is that we offer that chance. We turn Lady Liberty’s light to the world, and widen our circle of concern to say that all God’s children are worthy of our compassion and care. That’s part of what makes this the greatest country on Earth.”

So what do many American shoppers do on Black Friday? They mob the shopping malls and the brick-and-mortar stores as they open very early on Friday morning following Thanksgiving holiday to snap up bargains. Overzealous shoppers are known to knock down and trample other shoppers as they race to take advantage of bargain basement prices on items such as new apparel, consumer electronics and toys. With the rise of e-commerce, many American shoppers now prefer to take advantage of Black Friday sales offered by popular e-tailers like The e-commerce sites usually have such Black Friday sales continue beyond a single day.

This year, Pakistan's e-tailer offered Black Friday bargains to Pakistani shoppers. partnered with several companies including PTCL, Ponds, Mediatek, InnJoo and Easypay. EasyPay is the official payment partner, offering an additional 25 per cent discount on products to customers who use Easypay on Black Friday.  There were category discounts as high as 63 per cent on smartphones, 50 per cent on computers and 70 per cent on fashion and accessories on offer at Daraz, according to Express Tribune newspaper.

In addition to e-commerce sites, there was also a report in England's "The Daily Mirror" about "Lahori aunties going mad" on Black Friday at a fabric store in Lahore.

To the dismay of many, American style consumerism is finding broad acceptance among the middle class consumers across the world, including developing countries like Pakistan. Is this wise? Is it sustainable? How would it affect our future? I'll leave these questions for the readers to answer for themselves.

Amir Khan Under Fire Over "Intolerance" in India; Black Friday in Pakistan; Russia-Turkey Conflict in Syria; PPP's Asim Husain C from WBT Productions on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

E-Commerce in Pakistan

High-Tech Investments in Pakistan

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan's Appetite For International Brands

Pakistan Middle Class Grows to 55%

South Asia's Rising Consumption; Depleting Resources

Syrians Flee Persecution


Riaz Haq said...

The billionaire Samwer brothers want to help introduce Pakistan’s shoppers to a local version of Black Friday, the November sales binge that kicks off the year-end holiday retail season in the U.S.
It doesn’t matter that Black Friday is an American invention, said Bjarke Mikkelsen, co-chief executive officer of Daraz, the online retailer backed by the brothers’ incubator Rocket Internet SE. Daraz -- operating in Pakistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh -- will team with brands and advertisers to offer “hundreds of deals” on Nov. 27, he said. It will partner with Easypay, the mobile payment service offered in Pakistan by Norwegian wireless carrier Telenor ASA.
“It’s a shopping event that was created in the Western world,” Mikkelsen, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. investment banker, said in an interview. “It’s a way of attracting many people with great deals and big marketing.”
Daraz, a three-year-old company, is getting more funding to bankroll that effort. On Tuesday, Daraz said it raised 50 million euros ($56 million), including 20 million euros from CDC Group, a British government-owned investor trying to create jobs in Africa and South Asia. The rest came from Asia Pacific Internet Group, Rocket’s joint venture with Qatar mobile carrier Ooredoo QSC.
Daraz is taking a page from Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which have demonstrated how hefty one-time discounts and exclusive merchandise can get American and Chinese bargain-hunters to spend billions of dollars. Daraz also plans its own version of Cyber Monday, the online shopping event held three days after Thanksgiving, which occurs in the U.S. on the fourth Thursday of November.
$20 Smartphones
The plans are in the making even though Pakistan currently has only about 30 million Internet users. Neighboring India has 10 times as many, according to the lobby group Internet and Mobile Association of India, yet Pakistan’s $232 billion economy is on track for its fastest pace of annual expansion since 2008.
Daraz draws 6 million visitors a month spending a combined 1 million euros on exclusive offers for Chinese-made smartphones, TVs and clothes, Mikkelsen said. It sells via websites and mobile apps and almost half its deliveries venture beyond major cities, with smartphones as cheap as $20 being a top seller.
Building buzz will be key for a company that started out as a fashion retailer before expanding its wares in November 2014. It partnered with Google Inc. to host Tech Mela, a 10-day online shopping event that preceded this month’s Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday.
There’s little point advertising online when Internet penetration is so low, Mikkelsen said. Instead, Daraz is recruiting taxi drivers and college students to become “brand ambassadors,” or a sales force paid on commission.
“By tapping into a global shopping phenomenon we will create a more powerful event than if we made up a new concept from scratch,” he said.

faiz said...

Is the human development index for 2016 out yet? Have you looked at the data?

Riaz Haq said...

faiz: "Is the human development index for 2016 out yet? Have you looked at the data? "

No, I haven't. It's irrelevant for the subject of this post because the merchants know who their main target is: Pakistan's urban middle class consumers who have rising incomes and fairly high levels of human development.

Read the following to learn about it:

Ashraful said...

Per Multinational Professional Service auditor PwC, in nominal GDP Bangladesh economy will surpass Pakistan in 25 years or 2040. In per capita terms Bangladesh will surpass Pakistan in 15 years. The poor dark Bengali Pakistanis of 1947-1971 will be ahead of their richer lighter western Pakistanis or just Pakistanis today.

Riaz Haq said...

Asharful: "Per Multinational Professional Service auditor PwC, in nominal GDP Bangladesh economy will surpass Pakistan in 25 years or 2040. In per capita terms Bangladesh will surpass Pakistan in 15 years."

Extrapolating current trends to forecast the future may work for short periods but it has never worked over such long periods.

It's hard to believe Bangladesh can do in15-20 years what it has failed to achieve in the last 40 years since independence.

We all know Pakistan's natural advantages: Larger population, younger demographics, more human capital, bigger natural resources and significantly greater landmass.

Majumdar said...

Faiz sb,

Is the human development index for 2016 out yet? Have you looked at the data?

The HDI report will be out on December 14. In all probability it will show India continuing to be 2-3 positions ahead of Pakiland. That being the case, it is unlikely that Prof Riazul Haq sb will at all be interested in this piece of data.

Meanwhile, the access to Internet report is out and India at #131 beats Pakiland #142 by 11 ranks.


Riaz Haq said...

Majumdar: "The HDI report will be out on December 14. In all probability it will show India continuing to be 2-3 positions ahead of Pakiland. That being the case, it is unlikely that Prof Riazul Haq sb will at all be interested in this piece of data."

Just do a search for HDI on my blog to see for yourself how wrong you are:

Majumdar: " Meanwhile, the access to Internet report is out and India at #131 beats Pakiland #142 by 11 ranks."

Internet penetration is rising rapidly now, much faster than India, since the launch of 3G and 4G late last year. There was 33% increase in subscriptions in the last quarter alone.

Anonymous said...

Friday Bazaar is better than Black Friday in Pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

#Tesco tests waters in #Pakistan with Alpha #Supermarkets tie-up. Plans 50+ stores via @Reuters

Britain's biggest retailer Tesco (TSCO.L) will stock its products at a Pakistani supermarket chain, a Tesco official said on Thursday, dipping its toes in a country of nearly 200 million with rising consumer spending and a growing middle class.

Tesco has been expanding rapidly in emerging markets to bolster sluggish growth in western Europe and is among a growing band of companies attracted by Pakistan's fast-growing consumer market, encouraged by the highest economic growth since 2008 and improved security.

"We have agreed on a wholesale partnership with Alpha Supermarkets in Pakistan, under which Tesco products will be stocked at two of its stores," Jared Lebel, head of new market development at Tesco, told Reuters.

He said that Limestone Private Limited, which owns the Alpha Superstores chain, planned to open 50 smaller express stores and four Alpha stores stocking Tesco products within the next three years.

"We are excited about Pakistan as a market," Lebel said. "A big factor in coming to Pakistan is rising consumer spending."

A spokesman for Tesco in London said: "We're looking forward to seeing how customers respond."

Fauzia Khuhro, head of business development at Limestone, told Reuters that Tesco products would hit its shelves in about 10 days.

"Alpha Supermarkets will be the only retailer in Pakistan that stocks Tesco private-label products," Khuhro said. "We will offer a complete range of Tesco product categories, from food and non-food items to frozen and fresh foods."

Tesco's partnership with Alpha Supermarkets was announced by British High Commissioner Thomas Drew and Limestone at a press briefing in Karachi on Tuesday.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan-based apparel #fashion label Sana Safinaz's #cloud-based e-tail solution featured in Magento case study …

For Sana Safinaz, Pakistan’s leading fashion brand, March is the start of the summer season, and the fashion industry’s hectic ‘lawn season.’ ­According to the Hindustan Times: “Lawn is the name Pakistanis use to refer to the brightly colored cotton fabric sold in stitched and unstitched form in a myriad of hues, to an eager set of buyers who will sometimes go to great lengths to get their favourite suit pieces.” During this peak season, shopping malls are overwhelmed with customers. “Compared to normal trading days at our brick and mortar stores, the footfall during collection launches increases 600 percent,” reveals Sana Safinaz’s Haris Ahmed, their Head of Retail Business. You can only imagine the impact of traffic on the brand’s website.
“Our website goes crazy,” says Moeed Ahmed of the Sana Safinaz Digital Business team. “Brand collection launches during the lawn season are met with an abnormal spike in traffic,” adds Tariq Siddiqui, the brand’s Manager of Digital Business. “Across the whole industry it’s rare to find a site that has the infrastructure to successfully handle a surge without affecting customer experience.” Adding to their traffic is the company’s regular investment in highly-optimized Google search/adwords campaigns, that generates almost 35 percent of their total traffic. With the spotlight on Sana Safinaz this summer season, and the eCommerce business becoming a high percentage of the company’s total inventory, their site had to perform. Oh, and they only had a month before launch. Naturally, they chose Magento Commerce.

Sana Safinaz got to work straight away with their local development partner, Webwork Solution (Pvt.) Ltd. They chose Magento Commerce (formerly Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition), so they would never have to worry about servers and traffic spikes again. They also wanted to beat their competition by capitalizing on the rich core functionalities of Magento Commerce, and its highly effective marketing/segmentation modules. The team broke the project into two phases: Phase one included the “must have” features like order fulfillment and integration with their Point of Sale system. Phase two focused on additional capabilities like social media extensions to generate additional sales through social platforms, along with other site feature deployments.
With Magento, the Sana Safinaz team spent their time improving site structure and user experience, rather than panicking about IT and site crashes. With a cloud solution built on AWS, they knew their new Magento Commerce site could handle the crazy traffic that was about to hit.

The moment of truth arrived on March 3, 2017. Across Pakistan, the lawn season had begun, and millions of Pakistani women were hustling to buy their ultimate summer outfit. The Sana Safinaz site went live, and on the first day it processed more than 5,000 orders. Before Magento Commerce, the most orders ever processed on a single day was 1,000. As page views increased by 87 percent, their customers were raving on social media: “We were able to place orders so smoothly,” wrote one customer, “Never had this with other brands.”