By Asif Shahzad
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Daraz, Pakistan’s largest retail e-commerce platform, aims to host up to 300,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in two years, its CEO said, as the company seeks to strengthen its position in its domestic market in the face of potential competition from global giant Amazon.
E-commerce growth in the country of 220 million has yet to fully take off, as in neighboring India where the market includes retail heavyweights such as Amazon and Walmart and major platforms. local managed by the Indian groups Reliance and Tata.
Daraz, founded in 2012 in Pakistan and acquired by Chinese giant Alibaba in 2018, has 100,000 SMEs in Pakistan on its platform.
“We want to reach 300,000 active and educated SMEs selling on our platform over the next two years, and that will essentially create a million jobs,” CEO Bjarke Mikkelsen told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.
Pakistan’s rapidly growing middle class, over 60% young and over 100 million broadband subscribers,
makes it a lucrative destination for ecommerce platforms.
Amazon announced earlier this year that it would allow Pakistani entrepreneurs to sell products in its marketplace.
Ahead of the interview, Mikkelsen met with Prime Minister Imran Khan and his finance and investment teams to discuss the coordination of free zones where tech companies would receive special incentives to thrive, and a Khan e-commerce university said that Pakistan would open its doors.
Daraz operates in four other South Asian countries – Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Mayanmar – with access to 500 million customers with a team of 10,000 employees. It has invested $ 100 million in Pakistan and Bangladesh over the past two years, Mikkelsen said.
It is targeting nearly $ 1 billion in sales through its platform this year, having seen 100% year-over-year growth in orders over the past four years, he said. declared.
The e-commerce sector in Pakistan grew by more than 35% in value in the first quarter of 2021 to reach 96 billion Pakistani rupees ($ 548.89 million) from 71 billion ($ 405.95 million) during the same period last year, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce.
The story continues
Of the 70 million users who visited Daraz’s website last month, 35 million were from Pakistan. Mikkelsen said Pakistan is seeing more and more people ready to use digital services.
He added that e-commerce in the South Asian countries where Daraz operates accounted for only 2% of the retail market, which could be multiplied by 10 to 20.
($ 1 = 174.9000 Pakistani rupees)
(Written by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)
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