‘Policy lags, scanty skills stymieing ecommerce growth in Pakistan’

An underdeveloped basic infrastructure, lack of required skills, and inadequate strategic policy support continue to stymie the growth of ecommerce, which is the most potential component of digital economy.

These views were expressed by Sunny Ali, the founder and CEO of Extreme Commence, a company formed with the aim to train Pakistanis in the field of ecommerce business over Amazon.

Ali offers guidance, consultancy and advice to young Pakistanis in order to empower them through technical knowledge and digital skills and enable them to make a fortune through ecommerce. The News talked with Ali to have his insights on the present and the future of the ecommerce in Pakistan. The following are some highlight of that interview:

Q: What digital skills are required to enter the field of ecommerce?

A: Digital skills are often defined as a diverse set of abilities to make use of digital and communication applications plus devices. It also includes the ability to use networks for accessing and managing information. Today, digital skills are not limited to an individual’s only being capable of using a computer or mobile but they also involve expertise in social media usage and marketing, email marketing by copywriting and other technical software, digital multimedia making and marketing, creation of search engine optimised content, and digital analytics, etc.

At Extreme Commerce, we offer a multitude of digital skills that are categorised into 50+ courses/income streams under the umbrella of Video Boot Camp (VBC 2020). We plan to augment these courses into at least more than a 100 diverse “money making skills” – that are pivotal to reducing unemployment and enhancing the capital of our country. Skills that actually help you succeed as an online freelancer and even in the real life environment plus increase your income thereby, are our prime focus right now.

Some of the skills we offer apart from Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) Private Label (PL) Virtual Assistance and FBA Freelancing, in a nutshell are: online store management of international and local ecommerce marketplaces, bookkeeping account management services, graphic designing, 3D designing & modelling, data science and analytics, and much more.

Q: How does Extreme Commerce help aspirants acquire such skills?

A: Extreme Commerce offers three types of trainings. However, before someone applies for any of our trainings we require from them to have spent some time in our online community of over 350,000 people by the name of “Extreme Commerce by Sunny Ali” which is primarily a platform in the form of a Facebook group. It is absolutely free and there are countless hours of information on this community with live posts and 24/7 customer support. What’s more – students, investors, and businessmen can post their queries and case studies any time for immediate feedback from seniors and trainers on this platform.

After an individual becomes a part of our ecosystem and understands how our ecosystem is designed and gains know-how of the various digital skills plus business models that they can adapt in their professional lives, they usually opt for VBC or VBC 2020. People as young as 14 year olds can avail VBC to equip themselves for online home based earning with multifarious skills.

This training carries a price tag but we offer generous financial support to the underprivileged, housewives, students, as well as divorced or widowed and single moms. People with a disability are also deserving of getting a free VBC. A testament of this is the fact that almost 95 percent of the individuals in this training are accessing it free of cost. The VBC alone enables people to earn potentially $500 to $1,000 every month by selling these skills on freelancing platforms or clientele gained through social media or emails.

Our main goal is to train people to use Amazon to establish brands, while operating in Pakistan and generate foreign income. An average student can potentially earn up to $10,000 each month and there is virtually no limit to what they can earn. This training costs $900 and comes along with lifetime support and one approved product by the mentors to be sold in the international market in order to mitigate the risks.

The last training is the One-to-One (1-1), a more personalised training and coaching with trainers. Unlike other programmes, this is one-to-one session based training and is usually opted by established brands that want to venture into international markets and have less time on their hands.

Q: How do you connect manufacturers with skilled marketers?

A: We enable our students with the skills and tools to seek manufacturers as we do not charge for connecting sellers to manufacturers. However, since we have such a huge online community, it is now far easier for manufacturers and sellers to interact with each other. We have become a trusted hub for all online digital skills and international ecommerce in Pakistan, so people in our community find it easier to connect with service providers, sellers and manufacturers.

Nonetheless, our students mainly source products from China using third party websites such as Alibaba. There are certain things that a person should keep in mind when using platforms like these to avoid being scammed and that is exactly what we teach our students during the procurement modules.

Q: What is the potential of ecommerce for Pakistanis, locally and globally?

A: Currently the Pakistani ecommerce market is relatively small at around $1 billion, whereas, the international ecommerce sales for 2019 alone amounted to $3.5 trillion. Moreover, for every $2 spent online, $1 is spent on Amazon. But this has all changed in 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic. Ecommerce has skyrocketed after the pandemic and is estimated to grow to a whopping $4.3 trillion within this year.

Pakistanis can take advantage of not only the local growing ecommerce market but the international market as well. In short, there is a huge potential for growth in ecommerce both locally and internationally, and that is why we at Extreme Commerce have pledged to enable people to bring at least an additional $1 billion each year into the Pakistani economy through ecommerce skills by 2025.

Q: Can Pakistanis open Amazon accounts?

A: Pakistan is not recognised as an authorised country to open an Amazon account from. However, Pakistanis can still do business legally. We encourage our students to partner up with overseas Pakistanis and jointly build and grow businesses together.

Q: What hurdles are slowing down ecommerce growth in Pakistan?

A: The bottlenecks may be the lack of proper framework and policies implementation to support ecommerce growth as well as a dearth of important skills and awareness. Such factors play a role in limiting ecommerce growth potential.

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