News

An overview of second Black Friday in Pakistan

Shaoor Munir Written by Shaoor Munir · 4 min read>
Daraz Black Friday

25th of November saw the second crack of Pakistani online shopping websites at conducting a Black Friday Sale in Pakistan. How well did that attempt go? What needs to be addressed if the stores are to repeat this feat next year? Let’s take a look at these questions together.

Misconception around the word Black Friday

In almost any online discussion about this event, you are guaranteed to find at least one mention of how the word Black associated with Friday, which holds a religious prestige for Muslims, does not suit the religious values of Pakistan. To clear any remaining confusion about the nature of the word, Black Friday comes from an old way of recording business accounts. Losses were recorded in red ink and profits in black ink. Many businesses, particularly small businesses, started making profits prior to Christmas. Many hoped to start showing a profit, marked in black ink, on the day after Thanksgiving Day. This is the best explanation available for the word and it shows that there is no malevolent intention in calling it Black Friday.

For those customers who were still not satisfied with the justification of the word Black, HomeShopping decided to go a slightly different way and named their sales day as “White Friday.” Because according to them, Friday is never black in Pakistan.

Many sites just can’t handle the traffic

While it is true that the e-commerce in Pakistan is still far from being mature, it is well past its infancy stage. It seems that many sites still didn’t expect the overwhelming response of users to this biggest sale of the year. As soon as the clock struck 12, many sites started crawling due to an immense number of users trying to get their hands on the best possible deal. The end result was a slow and tedious wait for pages to load, which, more often than not, ended in disappointment. Daraz had such huge number of visitors that their iOS app crashed, a fact which they “excitedly” acknowledged through a Facebook post.

Yayvo, Clicky, Kaymu also loaded with a tortoise speed increasing the agony of excited buyers. Despite these shortcomings, one should be appreciative of these site’s efforts to engage such a huge number of users to their platforms. This should count more as an achievement and something to think about the future rather than marking it as a failure.

Nature and quality of products available at discount

Coming towards the actual quality of the products available at a discount on this event, although the selection at most sites was commendable, a closer look at actual products left a lot to be desired.

Speaking about Phones and Computers available at discount, there was nothing really to get excited about. Although it sounds good that there is a discount of up to 50 percent on products, the main thing to look for is the word “up to”. These two words can be very treacherous when it comes to enticing unsuspecting customers. What it means that there are going be a select few products available for sale at 50% off discount. Remaining products are offered at different discount rates lying mostly within 3-10% bracket of the original price. Although something is better than nothing, there was almost nothing to get that excited about.

Black Friday seemed more like a clearance sale rather than an actual discount festival on products

What it translated into was that most of the products by companies like Samsung, Apple, Lenovo, HP, Dell etc. were offered at minimal discounts while relatively cheaper brand products like Danny, Alcatel etc. were offered at much higher discounts.

Taking an example of discounts offered at Home Shopping, most discounts in the range of 10-20 percent were either at discontinued and dated products, or they were on products in the lower price brackets.

1

This, although looks good on the surface, ends up being nothing more than a promotional tactic when it comes to the actual benefit provided to a user. Same can be said about other shopping sites like Yayvo, Clicky Kaymu etc.

This should be in no way construed as a rant over a lack of discounts on popular brands, instead, it depicts the nature of the sale itself. It seemed more like a clearance sale for relatively unpopular brands. This day would have meant much more for users if the huge discounts were extended to international brand items as well.

Misguided representation of actual prices and discounts

It seems that some sort of exaggeration also came into play when sites tried to get more users to avail their discounts. I found many cases of misrepresentation of actual prices of the products shown on some sites. Below is the listing on Daraz for a 5th generation HP Elitebook Folio, available for 49,999 Rupees. It is supposedly available at a massive 57% of discounted price, down from its usual price of 115,000 Rupees.

1

However, when I did a little research, the same model was listed on Paklap.pk for only 84,000. Does it mean the original price was artificially increased to make the buyer excited about the discounted price? Indeed.
2

The price listed on Paklap.pk is considerably lower than the 115,000 list price on Daraz. I am not saying that Daraz deliberately misguided customers, but there could have been a more transparent representation of actual discount being offered to users. A similar disparity in listed price and discounted price was also pointed out by some Facebook users.

No one should complain about getting a discount, right?

In hindsight, even with all these factors affecting the end user’s experience and some issues with list prices, this is still a new concept in Pakistan. Never before have we seen such discounts on any special occasion. We live in a country where prices actually go up when any auspicious event is imminent. Offering such discounts, no matter which price bracket and a product they apply on, is a huge step in the right direction. While pointing out the mistakes and shortcomings, we should be mindful of the effort put together in making sure these kinds of events take place in Pakistan.

What’s next for Black Friday?

Although actual figures for sales conducted by sites on this day are not yet to be made available, keeping in view the response of users on social media and overloading of servers due to large stream of users hunting for best deals, it can be safely speculated that this Black Friday Pakistan was just as popular, if not more, than the last one. And, many more brands joined the bandwagon giving users ample options to buy products with the maximum discount. There are still some cracks here and there, including some dubious marketing techniques, which need to be sorted out if this day is to achieve the status it holds in the USA and other parts of the World.

Written by Shaoor Munir
I am passionate about technology, hardware and the future of both of them together.Email: shaoor@techjuice.pk Profile