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Ecommerce has come a long way over the past decade or so. With a net worth of a measly $132 Million spent in 1995, it has become a monster in 2008 with different niches alone boasting sales in billions from Internet only. The explosion of mobile commerce and phenomenon of millionaire bloggers has added to the ever present opportunities available online; I believe it is absolutely a must that one needs an online presence just to be taken seriously.

I have always been surprised at the lack of (serious) online businesses in Pakistan. And I wouldn’t count having a website online as serious until it’s geared to compliment the …

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Ecommerce: Need of the Hour! Check List for an Ecommerce Store

Ecommerce has come a long way over the past decade or so. With a net worth of a measly $132 Million spent in 1995, it has become a monster in 2008 with different niches alone boasting sales in billions from Internet only. The explosion of mobile commerce and phenomenon of millionaire bloggers has added to the ever present opportunities available online; I believe it is absolutely a must that one needs an online presence just to be taken seriously.

I have always been surprised at the lack of (serious) online businesses in Pakistan. And I wouldn’t count having a website online as serious until it’s geared to compliment the Organizations business processes or if it is an online business than it should be geared to extract the maximum out of the growing number of opportunities available online.

I see the next couple of years to be full of opportunities for Pakistani entrepreneurs willing to experiment online. This is purely based on the fact that the gloom of recession following American economy resulting in a weaker dollar and a worldwide economic gloom. And I am betting on our even weaker Rupee (1 USD= Rs.64 last I heard) in doing reasonably well against stronger economies in providing products/services to the online consumer.

Having been associated with design, development and management of ecommerce and internet products based on open source technologies. I believe they provide a low cost alternative which is huge in features and usability. Compare osCommerce an open source ecommerce website software, which is free and boasts of thousands of man hour work in research, development and design, to the customized ecommerce website made in months by a couple of developers. I would be going on all night on open source philosophy, so I’ll cut short my argument by providing a checklist for setting up an ecommerce store. I am assuming that the person reading this article is an idea person not a techie and hoping this checklist would provide building blocks to the idea!

Setting up an Ecommerce Website: Check List

Pre-Launch:

Niche Identification:

Identify your niche/s, find out which key phrases bring higher traffic on search engines. Google has a great keywords and phrases research tool and its free.

Identify your online identity. It’s a plus when the domain name includes high ranked search key phrases. Please register your .pk or .com.pk domain from www.pknic.net.pk . I don’t subscribe to the myth of .coms having more weight over .pk domains in search engine ranking. All the good combinations are taken in .coms and .pk domains just became available 2 years ago!

Identify your products based on the idea, remember the online user needs to be impressed. So put extra attention in writing the product descriptions, photographs.

Finding a Webhost:

Usually the selection of the webhost is based on the technology the website will be using and since my check list is based on open source technologies. following companies fit the bill

Ocssolutions.com

ixwebhosting.com

Websouls.com ( A Pakistani Host)

Payment Merchant:

2checkout.com

Authorize.net

Cyber.net.pk (Pakistan’s leader in ecommerce payment services and I have been hearing good rumors about a new product being introduced for SME’s interested in selling online)

Shopping Cart/Website Solution(ranked in terms of online implementations)

osCommerce.com

Creloaded.com, zen-cart.com (osCommerce variations packed with useful features)

X-cart.com ( one time licence cost from $200-$800)

Magentocommerce.com ( my personal favorite but lower in order as customization would be bit expensive then the above)

All these product except for x-cart are free and there are thousands of predesigned themes available. If your into having a unique look for a website you will have to get unique theme design for you. I am also assuming that anyone who can operate a hotmail email account can manage the ecommerce website as these products comes with excellent community supports in the form of forums, documentations, useful contributions all by the open source community. When deciding between the above products, please take time out to visit the sites and check their online demos. I do have a very technology biased opinion on these ecommerce solutions.

Website Content

Write your own content. Decide how to describe your company, your products. Managing content pages on the website is easily manage-able through the ecommerce solutions mentioned above.

Follow up on that keyword research and learn about search engine optimization at Wikipedia

Post Launch:

Newsletter Management

All the ecommerce solutions mentioned above come with nifty newsletter management systems. Use them, introduce your products, and keep in touch with your customers through discounts, news, and products launches with a monthly newsletter.

Web Analytics

Analyze your traffic, monitor what they do on your website, identify opportunities, strategies

Google.com/analytics an excellent tool for tracking the web traffic

Order Fulfillment and Customer Care:

Sourceforge.net: use this website to find excellent ticket based free help desk systems to provide efficient support for customers

Utilize the notification emails of the system wisely and make proper account creation, order confirmation and fulfillment email templates.

Have a complete customer service section on the website providing shipping, privacy and terms of use notices.

Use open source live chat applications and chat with you prospective customers. I would recommend HelpCenterLive.com and it integrates easily with your website.

My argument for open source products seems to be winning here, as this whole exercise would cost you around $500-$5000 considering your requirements, design and the expertise of your Web vendor, compare this to the closed source software and the licensing costs associated with it,  it’s not even a contentst! Let me know what you guys think.

I would love to hear any queries, feedback, comments on this piece.

Facebook comments:

76 Comments

  • ahan…thanks for info, yea i know http://www.ebanyan.com providing such services. But our local banks should introduce e commerce enabled solutions as well. Not every one has access to such abroad resources.

  • hi guys

    seems to me like beliscity.com has abandoned shop cos i have been trying to contact them for a week now to get some products but no response on anything, telephone or email alike. Anyone know why?

  • yeah i heard similar rumors nauman! theres something definitely going on at beliscity.

  • one question..

    when ecommerce was being taken up in the states, i remember people could ask for credit card number and expiry dates, and then manually have them processed by the banks.

    most of the CC machine’s i’ve seen in Pakistan have an option of keying in a card’s number, in addition to swiping it (a status which comes printed on the receipt either as ‘SWIPED’ or ‘KEYED’).

    A merchant doesn’t get the money unless they submit the receipts to the bank for reconcilation. during that time, if a customer reports an error, the case is looked into and if true, the payment is reversed.

    the way it is setup, a merchant, looking to create a business has to follow the professional ethics of running it.

    i agree in pak, trust is in short supply, and so are unscuplous people who would take away your money, but CC machines are issued only to vendors who are certified by the banks… so that does create a level of trust.

    in short, why not introduce a service to manually process CC numbers until we get the facility to have it done automatically?

  • dear
    i like link online sale my product
    any body pay me by card(visa ,ect)that come to my bank A/c.can you hel me this

    azam

  • Azam please leave your contact details on aamir7@gmail.com, i may help you…

    Thanks

  • Good post…quite an interesting comment.

  • I was interested in online business about three years ago but gave up after finding out the impossibility of online business in Pakistan.
    Now after three years, there has been no improvement at all, only rumours just like they were three years ago (Like paypal or others soon to allow Pakistan ). The worst thing I just found out is that Paypal is now allowing sending money to 190 countries but still not to Pakistan.
    Is Pakistan so bad for e-commerce?

  • Can the service provided by PayPal be replicated and offered in Pakistan instead of waiting for them??

    What needs to be in place before this dream can come true? Could anyone enlighten me on this?

  • There are many alternatives available like Moneybookers, Alertpay etc.

    But the real problem is acceptability. PayPal is accepted at more locations than any other company.

  • super post. i too think that ecommerce has bright future in Pakistan.

  • We sell all kind of unlock phones, laptops, games plasma tv and all electronics device at affordable price…

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    Apple iphone 3g 16gb,N96,N95,N97,Blackberry Storm 9500,Xperia

    Apple iPhone 3G (8GB) .. 200 $
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    Nokia N97 …….350
    Nokia N96 16GB ……300$
    Nokia N95 8GB …….250$
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    HTC Advantage X7500 .. 350 $
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  • We sell all kind of unlock phones, laptops, games plasma tv and all electronics device at affordable price…

    CONTACT US VIA……agogphones@yahoo.com

    Apple iphone 3g 16gb,N96,N95,N97,Blackberry Storm 9500,Xperia

    Apple iPhone 3G (8GB) .. 200 $
    Apple iPhone 3G (16GB) .. 250 $

    Nokia N97 …….350
    Nokia N96 16GB ……300$
    Nokia N95 8GB …….250$
    Nokia 8800 Sirocco Oro….$200
    Nokia 8800 Sapphire Arte …….210$

    Samsung Armani ……….350$
    Samsung Serenata …….320$
    Samsung i900 Omnia 8GB …….250 $
    Samsung Omnia i900 16GB…..$300

    HTC Touch Diamante .. 300 $
    HTC Advantage X7500 .. 350 $
    HTC Advantage X7510 .. 310$

    Tormenta Blackberry 9500 …….350$

    Sony erricson K550im ………..350$
    Sony Ericsson C905 8MPs……..$300
    Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1………$250

    We are committed to doing all it takes to keep you a satisfied customer! Many thanks and God bless you as you place your order with us today.

    Your enquiry will be greatly appreciated.

    CONTACT US VIA……agogphones@yahoo.com

  • i am making a program to do online business.

  • Hi every1,
    We are planing to Open a Freelance web Portal from Pakistan like Elance(US),Limeexchange(Indian+US site) & Odesk(US) where People get registor as a Buyer & Provider.Buyer post their project in order to get their services from Provider and Provider will bid on the Projects.Once project is awarded & completed Buyer release their payments to Provider.I just like to know which payment Getway will support for such a huge website,we have accounts on Moneybooker(Merchant Acct),Alertpay,Strompay,Escrow & 2Checkout(inprocess) that Support Freelance Website payments.

  • Yes e-commerce is coming in Pakisan.

  • I placed an order online for a camera (Panasonic Lumix FS5) online to SHOPHIVE (www.shophive.com), an online shopping portal, on 25th August 2009. They promised free delivery and same day shipping through UPS Ground.

    I was promptly replied through phone/email by the shophive people; they confirmed the availability of the item and asked me to deposit the money (Rs. 13990) through bank transfer. Same amount was transferred to their account

    Next day I called Shophive to confirm the details. It was then that I was told that black camera is not available so either I have to wait or accept silver colour camera. I didn’t want to wait so accepted the available one. I was confirmed that the camera would be dispatched by TCS and I would receive it within a day.
    On 28th August, 3 days after booking, no deliveries were made and when I contacted Shophive, I was told that camera was shipped through AMS Couriers, a lesser known company and was given their contact number and consignment number. I called the courier office and I was told that they do not deliver, I have to pick up the parcel. On the same day I picked the parcel from AMS Couriers, Moti Plaza, Murree Road Rawalpindi.
    When I reached home and open the parcel, the camera and battery were missing from the parcel. The camera box was present with leads/cables and booklets/CDs but the camera was missing. I immediately called Shophive and later sent them an email.
    [Emails transcript available]
    I was asked by the company rep to contact the CEO Shophive, Arslan Nazir. I called him and he said that they are investigating the matter and camera was “hastily & erroneously” sent through this unknown “shady” company. I bought the story and asked for the next step. I was told that “Board of Directors” have decided to offer me 25-30% off if I still want to get another one. I was also asked to send the box back as they would use it for further investigations and filing a case against the couriers. I sent them the pack through TCS on 4th Sep 2009.

    After lot of correspondence with Shophive CEO over weeks, through which he was hesitant to reply and always have to be prompted many times to get one, I agreed conditionally to book another one and get 30% off. My conditions were that if they think that the couriers stole the camera, Shophive should take up the case and inform me.
    When I agreed to send them money again, they raised the price of camera to Rs. 15690. Even then, I sent them the money again through bank transfer. But after receiving the camera, for which I paid Rs. 10980 again, the Shophive plainly refused to follow up the case or return the lost camera remaining accessories which I sent to them.

    In the end, I lost Rs. 10980, paid extra to get the camera. On retrospective analysis, I am sure that the “lost” camera was not sent by the Shophive people in first place.

    I have launched complaint with CRCP and also serving them with legal notices.

  • if ANY ONE NEED PAYPALL IN PAKISTAN CONTACT US
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  • check out this great online food delivery website!

  • Yes off coarse the e-commerce is now becoming more and more common in Pakistan, Guys now there are many online shops who are working towards the change in the shopping trends
    some of them very common are
    http://www.symbios.pk
    http://www.shopaholic.pk
    http://www.crorepati.pk
    i have been doing my thesis project on online shopping trends so i came to know about these companies who are operating in Pakistan but facilitating outside Pakistan as well, e-commerce in Pakistan is really rising.

  • Don’t forget to mention the brilliant Vmart!

    http://www.vmart.pk

    I have shopped a few times from them and each time they have delighted with their service, response and product prices!

  • I am happy that there is a huge potential in pakistan online business. Online book stores like http://www.786cart.com show a bright future. However, Customer service should be top notch to make the industry grow.

  • online business is good for young boys and girls that can order online and donot waste you time to go to the market
    mobile

  • I recently came across 2 very good e-commerce websites in pakistan. One is daraz.pk and other one is http://www.azmalo.pk
    Prices are also a bit reasonable so I thought that I should also these sites with you guys.

  • Kashif, the prices at Azmalo and Daraz are anything but reasonable. Most of the inventory is of low quality selection and the prices are 1.5x of the original price I could get from the original brand. They make sense if you are living outside Lahore and Karachi but otherwise I don’t see the point.

  • Ejaz, You are right to some extent but I think that main concepts behind e-commerce sites such as http://www.azmalo.pk is that such sites are actually offering delivery facility to those customers in Pakistan who dont have easy access to big departmental stores.

  • According to me azmalo.pk has good prices and they also do shipping which is a great thing otherwise here other services charges increase ur expense azmalo.pk keep eye on every product and peoples choice they have number of prices which help customer on which prices they want to buy and this is a good thing for the people they get that what they desire.

  • %first_paragraphTaking it literally, your eyes serve as the major organ which allows you to see the beauty and wonder of all things that are visible. Without your eyes, it would be very difficult to function normally and perform the activities of daily living. This popular saying states that true beauty can be found in the personality and character of a person and should not be based on the physical features. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That is why it is highly essential to take care of your eyes.

    If you feel or see any developing signs of visual problems then of course you need to see an optometrist promptly and frequency will be based on the findings of the expert. By having your infant check early you can not only see if there are any visual problems but it is to make sure that the development of your child’s eyesight is on the right track. The regularity and extent of a visual examination may of course depend on the age, medical and family history of individuals. Children for example need to have a visual check from birth or at least when they reach 6 months of age.

    The patients can call at the numbers provided on the website of the Peoria AZ Optometrist office to schedule an appointment. The Peoria AZ Optometrist office offers a range of services for its patients by making use of the contemporary technologies and the tools. The diagnoses equipment and the methodologies help in assessing the infections and the injuries to find the treatments, medication and supportive care accordingly. Most of the diagnoses are made using latest digital equipment.

    He also gives other examinations that include the use of sophisticated magnifying equipment that has many different lenses in them to closely examine the interior of the eye. The doctor asks the patient to cover each eye and asks what are the smallest letters they can read. The first thing these specialists do when a patient comes to see them is to give eye examinations by having them read specific charts. These charts are used to determine both close up and distance vision testing. He examines the inside to search for any diseases, infections, inflammations or injuries using a special hand held lighted ophthalmoscope. Sometimes he’ll darken the examining room to help see better.

    Once you get to know the details about the hospital and the dentist, you can fix an appointment according to your convenience. So, when you are planning to visit a dentist, search for the best dentist in your city. So, search for a professional like the Lethbridge dentist. So, with the help of internet, you can easily find the right dentist for you and your family. Today, every established dental hospital has a website with details about the locality and services they offer.

    Optometrists are not medical doctors. When most people think of eye doctors, optometrists come to mind. If you need an examination and prescription for refractive vision glasses or contacts, typically you go to an optometrist. However, optometrists can treat a wide range of eye diseases and disorders.

    By relying on Lethbridge Lawyer, you would certainly make the right decision that will be surely beneficial to you. Along with necessary guidance, you will also acquire up-to-date information on the daily proceedings that takes place in courtrooms. By hiring services of Lethbridge Law Firm, you can be rest assured that you have placed your case in good hands.

    The professionals at the Peoria AZ Optometrist office work to alleviate the discomfort of the patients by treating them with artificial tears or punctual plugs procedures. Some of the individuals suffer from dry eyes, which is a condition in which the eyes become prone to itchiness and redness etc. This eye discomfort might be caused by specific medication, use of computers or other conditions. In some of the cases, when the patients need surgeries for conditions like Cataract the Peoria AZ Optometrist office also offers pre and post-operative care.

    They often ignore the fact that good dental system is necessary for proper digestion. Most people do not pay much attention to dental care. You find lot many people who do not visit a dentist until they suffer from an intolerable toothache. But, regular checkups with your dentist can keep off the pain and suffering.

    They only take use the most advanced technology. Our Buckhead eye doctor, they provide always best quality result and have obtained. The Buckhead eye doctor, they are very specialist and expert and they can develop and can take using any new technologies for the vision care of the patients.

    An ophthalmologist is a full medical doctor with a full Doctor of Medicine degree (M. An ophthalmologist is able to practice surgery and is usually kept very busy operating on those with glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and other retinal problems, or helping patients to deal with the effects or after effects of these eye diseases. Most people who have ever been operated on by an ophthalmologist will need to see him for a annual check up to ensure that their eyes remain at their most optimal, possible. ), extensive clinical training and a complete general knowledge of all medical issues. Although most people would choose to simply go to an ophthalmologist for all of their eye care needs, ophthalmologists rarely practice optometry and so, will not simply see a patient who wants to check their eyes for an updated prescription and he will not keep a supply of glasses and contact lenses; or order them in for patients.%

  • Potassium is regarded as as an electrolyte, which aids in sending messages to the brain by means of nerves.

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