E-commerce market in Pakistan on the rise
Pakistan, although a late entrant to world of e-commerce, has emerged and recorded a reasonable rise in online shopping trends and other ecommerce businesses.
Such growth trends over past few years - with more than US$ 30 million being spent on online purchases currently - depict a highly positive picture for future and the size of Pakistan's e-commerce market is expected to reach over US$ 600 million by 2017. No doubt e-commerce industry is booming throughout the region including in China where Alibaba's e-commerce market capitalization estimated to be over US$ 250 billion.
With many new online ventures springing up rapidly and existing businesses recording unprecedented growth rates, there is still a lot that needs to be done to reach the true e-commerce potential of the country and compete with other big players of the region. Experts on Wednesday said one of the most important factors in equation is rate of internet penetration in Pakistan. Pakistan's internet enabled population is limited to around 30 million users today. This, however, is expected to rise up to 56 million users by 2019.
Moreover, the experts said Pakistan's entry into 3G and LTE services in 2014 has increased internet accessibility and will also most likely propel the growth of online purchases.
Statistics from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) revealed that the total number of third-generation (3G) and LTE mobile subscriptions have risen up to 24.8 million. Pakistan has now moved in era of broadband with 15 % tele-density and it has great potential for pro- liferation. Over the next 5 years, 28 per cent of the country's population is estimated to have internet access. With increased access to the internet and social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, marketing trends are also rapidly changing and transforming the way opinions are now being shaped. This will not only transform shopping trends but also significantly impact several other e-commerce arenas, such as online job hunts, land, property and rental transactions.
Similarly, along with increased internet penetration, 67 per cent of the entire population also have access to mobile phones. There is also a recent surge in smartphone usage which is increasing day by day. Internet-enabled smartphones have dramatically increased the ease of internet access and made online businesses much more accessible for all. Both the rise of internet penetration and the declining costs of smartphones have accounted for this rapid rise in smartphone usage in Pakistan. Many Chinese brands have launched sophisticated devices at the fraction of the costs associated with the world's leading mobile phone brands, which has augmented mobile penetration across the lower income strata of the country.
With such easy access to the internet via affordable smartphones, e-commerce trends in the country are expected to boom in the near future, the experts maintained. Even though Cash-on-Delivery (COD) payment methods continue to remain widely popular in Pakistan and account for more than 95 per cent of online purchases, other promising initiatives such as branchless banking and Inter Bank Fund Transfer (IBFT) are also underway.