Saqib Azhar is chief executive officer and cofounder of Enablers – a Pakistani company that helps local businesses and individuals set up online stores on the world’s biggest ecommerce platform Amazon.com. Azhar talks to The News on the potential of selling products on Amazon and increasing exports from Pakistan.
The News: Why did you feel the need to launch this initiative?
Azhar: Amazon is the world’s largest product selling site and operates in 103+ countries across the globe. Unfortunately, Pakistan is not on its list and local people cannot open an account with Amazon.com. Amazon does not even deliver products directly to the country.
We have created “Enablers Sellers Dashboard” that allows people to sell on Amazon. They can make account using our dashboard. We receive sales proceeds from Amazon on their behalf and further bank-wire the fund.
The News: How important do you think it is to build sale channels on Amazon?
Azhar: This is crucial for Pakistanis to avail the option because Amazon is huge and can help them access their potential customers directly. Would you believe the sale volume of Amazon during peak days is $3.5 billion per day whereas Pakistan’s annual exports stand at $24.5 billion? This means Pakistan’s exports are approximately worth 7 days’ sales on Amazon.
The business model that suits Pakistanis is “Fulfilled by Amazon” under which they can place products on Amazon website and send shipments to the destination countries. Amazon will pick the stocks and ship these to the buyers and the sellers will get payment in Pakistan through Enablers.
The News: What is a key to success on Amazon?
Azhar: This is a very specialised area and there is definitely a criterion to select products. We recommend only those products that have high demand and less competition. We help manufacturers, youth, and local businesses from Karachi, Sialkot, Peshawar, Gujranwala, and Faisalabad on how to earn revenues from Amazon. In fact, they have to shift from business to business to business to consumer model and start thinking differently.
You will be surprised to know that a businessman based in Faisalabad and Karachi is earning one million dollars per month by selling textile products on Amazon.
Similarly, there is a guy from Sialkot whose earning from sports-related goods on Amazon is also to the tune of one million dollars per month.
The News: How successful do you think Pakistanis have so far been in ecommerce?
Azhar: No doubt, this is just a start but there is a great hope among them. At the moment, around 70 percent of the people selling textile products on Amazon from all over the globe are sourcing these from Pakistan.
This fact has been verified by Amazon. So, the point is that why cannot Pakistanis sell the products on their own.
I was based in UK and came back to Pakistan with a mission to contribute to my country’s development. Today we have eight offices in the country with our head office in Lahore. We give trainings to people at ‘Enablers Boot Camps’. We also promise lifetime support to them. People who attended boot camps are selling products from Pakistan like lamps, bed sheets, sports goods, surgical products, cosmetics, mobile phone accessories, sunglasses and so many other things on Amazon. There is a guy who is selling sunglasses worth $54,000 every month on Amazon from Lahore.
The News: Which are the main challenges to Pakistanis on Amazon.com?
Azhar: [They] can’t create account and don’t have anyone outside Pakistan. We offer Enablers seller dashboard where you are given a dashboard for adding products and managing sponsored ads, promotions, coupons, image updates, creating labels, shipments, and transactions details. They can run Amazon Business without any help from any relative.
Secondly, [they] do not have an investment in hand and can’t launch product. The challenge I have seen is that if you have money then you can only do this business otherwise find an investor. So, we will be entertaining students who can afford low budgets and do not end up starting business due to their investment challenges but they do have skills set.
[Thirdly, they] have money but don’t have time. We launched Enablers investment club which allows investors / manufactures to become a member, just become an investor on partnership with Enablers.
The News: Is there anything Enablers offers for trainees without financial resources?
Azhar: Yes there is a lot for them to do. We give skills sets to the beneficiaries of our mentorship programs. This helps them enter into working partnership with manufacturers who cannot spend time on building brands and placing products online. The manufacturers manage financial resources and the trained guys take care of their online sales.
We only charge $295 only from the trainees for a two to three months long course with lifetime supports which never end as we continue to support our students until they are successful. This is too small an amount keeping in view the potential of setting up multimillion dollar businesses.