Since its acquisition by the Chinese giant, e-commerce site Daraz has been experimenting to reach new buyers amid an economic crisis.
By Mutaher Khan
14 November 2023 • Karachi, Pakistan
The world outside Yousuf Najmuddin’s Karachi warehouse was a cacophony of impatient drivers and insistent hawkers one Wednesday in August. Inside, there was an industrious calm as workers moved between floor-to-ceiling shelves in search of mousetraps, child safety locks, or other home improvement products. Najmuddin’s office was in a back corner — a small, air-conditioned room. There, his laptop pinged every other minute to announce new orders through Daraz, Pakistan’s largest e-commerce site, owned by Chinese tech giant Alibaba.
Najmuddin is one of Daraz’s top sellers. But his laptop doesn’t ping as often as it used to, he told Rest of World.
When Alibaba acquired Daraz in 2018, the deal inspired optimism for how the Chinese e-commerce leader’s know-how could transform Daraz and, with it, Pakistan’s wider tech sector. In the five years since, the platform has experimented with new marketing and promotional strategies, including shopping livestreams and even cricket broadcast rights. It remains the go-to platform for online shopping in Pakistan, with around 27 million monthly active users, according to Daraz Pakistan’s managing director, Ehsan Saya.
But despite these efforts, and amid Pakistan’s ongoing economic crisis, Daraz also faces challenges. While Saya told Rest of World the company...
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