E-Commerce: Will Amazon Help Boost Pakistan's Exports?
Global e-commerce giant Amazon has recently added several dozen Pakistani exporters to its approved list, according to Eric Broussard, vice president of Amazon International Seller Services. "We are excited to announce that as of today, Pakistani entrepreneurs are eligible to sell on Amazon. We are eager to work with Pakistan's dynamic business community, including small and medium-sized sellers and help connect them with customers around the globe," he said.
|Amazon Global Marketplace. Source: Wikipedia|
Amazon e-commerce platform has global reach. As of March 2021, Amazon Marketplace operates and sells in 18 countries, mostly in advanced economies of Europe, Japan and North America as well as in emerging markets like Brazil, China, India, Arab Gulf states and Turkey. It boasts 200 million members for its Amazon Prime program that offers fast free shipping and other benefits, including Prime Video streaming for a fixed annual fee. The company hosts millions of sellers from over 100 countries on Amazon Marketplace. Over 7,000 Amazon-listed sellers from Pakistan's neighbor India have exported goods worth over $3 billion since 2015.
It has taken the combined effort of thousands of Indian sellers more than 5 years to achieve $3 billion in cumulative sales, indicating that it will take Pakistani sellers a lot of hard work and time to grow their business. But Amazon e-commerce platform does offer great potential for Pakistani manufacturers and merchants to grow their sales.
Amazon currently owns about 33% stake in Pakistani e-tailer Clicky.pk through its acquisition in 2017 of Dubai-based online retailer Souq. Souq acquired this stake in the Pakistani company in late 2016. Amazon operates in South Korea through a partnership with SK Telecom.
There is already a cottage industry of gig workers that has sprung up in Pakistan to support merchants who have been unofficially selling products on Amazon Marketplace. These Pakistani merchants have registered from countries such as the United Kingdom which are already on Amazon's approved list.
Pakistani gig workers include Amazon Virtual Assistants. These are freelancers providing services such as customer call centers, administrative tasks, fulfillment, and web development. Online freelance marketplace Fiverr lists over 7,000 Pakistanis who advertise themselves as Amazon Virtual Assistants, more than from any other country.
To become successful on Amazon Marketplace, Pakistani exporters will need to select and learn a lot about their target countries/markets and customer preferences. They will have to design, build or choose products that are in great demand in their target markets.
Initially, Pakistani exporters will likely need to establish a significant inventory of fast-selling products at Amazon warehouses in the United States and use FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) service to provide quick delivery to Amazon Prime customers. Pakistan exporters will also have to ensure quality to satisfy these customers and avoid negative online reviews.
Listing of Pakistani sellers on a global e-commerce platform is good news but it is only the first step toward becoming successful exporters. A lot more investment, attention and hard work will be necessary to realize its full potential.
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