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Online Shopping in Pakistan – Should you, Shouldn’t you?

If online shopping is a foreign concept to you, you’re either too old to know how internet works; or you’re too young to know how anything works. In the last decade or so, as online shopping has taken off, I haven’t yet talked to a single person who hasn’t partaken in it. My mum bought a pack of towels, (which she promptly returned on the spot because the package was too light and rightly so). My father too has dipped his toe in the pond, ordering some herbal medication.

Online shopping is convenience at its best. You don’t have to leave the house; you don’t even have to leave your bed. Everything you can possibly want is at your fingertips. It certainly has its benefits. But while there are pros, there are many cons too. I talked to a number of people, who along with my own experiences, mentioned the various issues that still need to be ironed out.

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As the trend of online shopping has soared, so have the number of websites offering it. The major players operating in Pakistan are Daraz.pk, and Aliexpress, retail websites which host a wide variety of products. Other websites include individual brands from clothing to electronics, makeup to footwear have their own personal websites which allow their customers to shop from home.

Aliexpress is a China owned online retail website that offers almost every item you can think of. Personally I have used it once and that too through a friend, since it requires you to pay online. I am not a very trusting person, so the items I ordered were a candy thermometer and a chocolate mold, both super cheap, so didn’t tug at my heart. Both items arrived soon, and were of good quality.

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Amna Abbas is a frequent customer of Aliexpress. According to her the low prices are one of the reasons she uses it the most. Since most of the vendors on the website are from China, quality varies but Amna has learnt to how to find good quality items. She says, the more she shops the better she gets at finding good deals. Another positive is that the sellers are very responsive and helpful when it comes to tracking the orders. And when orders do go missing, they are mostly held up by our customs.

The only problem is the shipping time. It can take up to a month, sometimes longer for you to receive what you ordered. If you are a patient person, want to buy a lot of things for less money, and don’t have issues paying online, AliExpress is definitely a website you should visit.

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Daraz.pk, another popular name in Pakistan used to be a go to website for people to shop online until recently. Many people I talked to shared their concerns about Daraz.pk. Laiba Omar finds it inconvenient that orders placed together come separately. This means she has to make sure someone is home, for each item ordered, and pay extra delivery charges each time.

Another customer Huda Naveed says her experience with Daraz was bad enough for her to not shop from them anymore. After her order was delayed, she received very little cooperation from the management, and later was told the item was out of stock.

Sudrish Khan, another regular customer found that her regular vendor listed at Daraz was no longer available. Sellers often disappear and you can no longer find items you regularly buy adding further to the inconvenience.

My own experience with Daraz.pk has been alright. I ordered a variety of different things, such as clothes, makeup, exercising equipment (weights and a gym ball) and my largest purchase – water dispensing unit. However after reading multiple negative reviews of people getting swindled by Daraz.pk, paying online and getting poor quality items or not receiving at all, I now have reservations.

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Personally I am an avid online shopper. I am always on the look out for good deals on clothes, makeup, books, baking and chocolate making equipment. I can spend up to Rs. 5000 in one sitting. I draw the line there. I have reservations buying electronics, shoes and things which cost more than 5k. However shoppers too are different. Some are comfortable spending up to Rs.20,000/- online, while others, like me prefer spending as little as possible.

I have no issues buying clothes online, but I do so from websites operated by brands themselves such as Gul Ahmed, Khaadi and Generation.

Makeup I buy quite frequently. Naheed.pk has recently launched a website that allows you to buy most of the items available at their store. I purchased lipsticks for my mom. The order arrived the next day and all the items were of good quality. You can purchase household items as well as your grocery too. They will deliver the next day. I also received a follow up call to ensure everything went well.

On the contrary, Muna Arslan tells me she will never shop online for clothes. Shoes however, she loves buying. She uses the Instagram page Soma.

After all the research (very little) that I conducted, I can say that online shopping requires a little leap of faith. You can look for reviews, compare prices, talk to anyone you think might have used that particular website. Maybe spend less at first and test out the quality. And of course ‘window’ shopping is just as much fun online.

What are your favorite and trustworthy websites and what do you love buying online? Leave a comment below.

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