We can sub divide and can check further into more categories like day to day apparel, seasonal fashion apparel, gender specific apparel, age wise apparels, region wise apparels etc, but to keep things simple and generic enough to cover all possible aspect; I am making this SWOT analysis as universal in sense.
Assumption Set: That retail setup has its own physical retail/ manufacturing too.
Market Competitive Strengths:
Own production/ Retail Setup:
Not only this will help to create potential access to 169 million local internet users (PTA figure as on August 2020), but also help to avoid cash stacking in extra stocks. Virtually such setup is just another store front with bigger potential market and zero investment in new stocks.
Low setup cost as to physical establishment:
Physical setup requires heavy investment, starting from construction, renovation, pile up stock shelving, rentals, securities for rental setup, monthly recurring expenses like of electricity or other running expenses. But e-commerce just require nominal expenses as compare to physical establishment.
One stop solution:
In any category of trade, one stop solution provides chance of complete dominance in that particular trade section. Like if you are selling female unstitched collection, then try to e-commerce value added items like stitched variations, by parts selling of items like trousers etc.
Multi channels retail options:
Every business ultimately supported by sales. Here you can use multi e-commerce channels to enhance your sale, like your own website, social media handles, whatsapp, daraz, alibaba, amazon, ebay etc.
Quick delivery/ Same day delivery:
This can be market leading strength, because opting same day delivery can make difference with other competitors. Therefore, with increase of sale, own delivery channel is highly recommended.
Automatic data base building setup:
With solid customer support, website plug ins & different analytics tool, you can record all your customer chats, from where they come in, where they goes from your website, what they are asking, what they are complaining & so on. This will help to create specific guided solutions and help you to make better & informed decisions.
Standalone 24/7 customer care & services:
Same as quick delivery, customer support & care can also leads any business to stand alone and can make all the difference any business wants to make. Because with increasing awareness of customers & option of easy comparability of brands, all you have to do to just focus on customer end not the business/ profitability end. This will help you to retain customer & will create positive image through word of mouth spread, recommendations, positive comments to public at large. Mind it your reputation will lead you!
A novel brand selling easy adjustment services & customization can create unmatchable brand value from customers having abnormal sizes or requirements. This will help you better connect to customers and can be a market leader point for your business. Like if you are selling trousers, then add option for customized sizes or adjustments.
Solid refund, return, exchange policy:
Not many brands in Pakistan are providing complete return policy which includes four ingredients like refund, return, exchange, alteration. Most of the brands stuck with exchange policy only. If you want to build lasting brand, attach full 4 point customer support service.
Free marketing channels:
Not so effective, but still don’t cost much of your time and they are absolutely free. Like facebook buying selling groups, free business listing websites, google maps etc. Will potentially can provide you some extra viewership & leverage to generate traffic for websites & inquiries on social media pages.
Social & tutorial campaigns:
Very few brands route their brands with this dual benefit strategy. As social awareness messages, fashion tutorial on youtubes can generate immense traffic multiple time, build soft image & you can earn through youtube monetization too.
Brand endorsements from influencers:
Perhaps no one or very few unknown brands are doing this, don’t know why not to appreciate others, while they are not in your competition line of products or services. Brand endorsement from complimentary products manufacturer can be handy source of marketing and opportunity for cross branding at large. Like Clothing providers can get endorsements from detergents, washing machine manufacturers. Similarly not so many are doing more powerful strategy like influencers endorsements, who already have established followership. These can be less costly, most effective means for direct impact based marketing.
Calculatable & measurable cost of marketing:
You don’t have to sell every time, you don’t have to post frequently. Means we are using changing substantially, so as their user market. Like brochures, bannering, sign boards are seems redundant now. You can now, measure your marketing cost and can check where is money going, where to improve, where to fine tune, where to stop, where to keep going. This added strength can save big on marketing costs.
Creative & more engaging ways of marketing:
Now marketing is like entertainment industry, getting interest, attention, emotions of others is a main source of engagement now. Conventional ways of doing boring ads/ posters going un-noticed, now brands with more bold, creative approach can get more viewership, hence leads to more traffic and at some stage this brand recognition and casually follow ship can turn into orders. Therefore, new brands with integrated pages & creative content, generates more customer ship than conventional old mind set retailers.
Detailed demo graphs for marketing:
Availability of highly detailed & powerful analytics tools make this form of business more advantageous than any other form, as detailing of information & real time gathering makes things more spontaneous, and business with most quickest response to those metrices can create leading difference.
Direct personalized marketing:
With the combination of SMS marketing, facebook purpose driven campaigns, google ad words & email marketing, business can automate personalized content dissemination as required by individual customer.
Only 2% online customer is price prone:
This may be surprising for all of us, most of the time market is considered to be price prone. But when we think about e commerce customer, most of the time they are educated or at least aware people who prefer satisfaction rather than dissatisfied cheap purchase who may got into hectic return process.
Exponentially increasing market:
After 3G/4G license Pakistani internet user increased progressively in between 2013 to 2015, from few millions to 74 millions, which from 2016 to 2019 increased to 160 million (53% up word increase). Now that much viewership (not necessarily customer ship) increases business viability chances & create lucrative industry for any kind of e-commerce setup.
Round the year seasonal sales:
Pakistan with many cultural cultural, religious events, different temperatures in one weather makes it perfect market for brands wants to sell around the year regardless of seasonal limitations. Further, pre-post season sales makes it possible for businesses to clear redundant or pile up stocks.
Less stock pile up cost for new startup:
With new business models, now you don’t have to buy big stocks. All you need is good market relationship or relevant PR, may be it comes from any professional relation or may be from blood relation or may be any physical outlet in your residential premises. Fresh startup can route their products after addition of own profit.
Giants in business:
Now big brands are focusing more on e-commerce channels, due to its convenience, swiftness, loyalty based purchase & less setup cost. They are leading e-commerce with heavy marketing on all platforms, which create cluster of brands, ultimately distorting small setups with least marketing budgets and low range of products.
Highly marketing driven:
If you are new then only quickest solution for your sales is to invest in marketing. Because now google, fb are providing paid services based on paid per click/ conversions. Therefore, there algorithms keeping continuous paying brands up on top, not always but most of the time.
No physical outlet:
This may be one of the limiting factor for some retail clothing setups, as people perceive physical outlet based setup more branded & ease of live feel & check, making this as impediment for e-commerce sale, specially of new virtual setups.
Even with all its benefits & lowest setup cost as compare to physical business, still proper brand building process takes some time & more expenses like brand takeaways, gifts, discounts at start, along with web & app development & heavy social media campaign. Because these expenses are advisable as merely selling on social media handles may not build your brand rather may can damage reputation by promoting as cheap brand.
Require extreme patience for brand & loyalty building:
This is the fundamental mistake most of the vanishing startup made. Don’t expect things to go fast, as from 1st impression, 1st enquiry to 1st order, and then repeat customer ship, all these will take time. Even sometime your paid campaigns may not be generating enough or expected results. Therefore, business have to be consistent, patience & ever supporting to customer.
Slow conversion rate at start:
Every business have to understand this, digital marketing channels are getting mature now, the bit based system, rendering marketing budgets highly risk prone. Therefore, specially at start business may got slow conversion of orders like 1-2% of their budget, but if they stay consistent, tolerant & vigilant about their campaign design, management, target marketing & consistent about content creation. They will get the reward which will be high & permanent.
Complex algorithms of social media & search engines:
Back in 2013 anyone familiar with basic social media knowledge would run & manage his own campaign. But with tougher algorithms, growing competition & complex trends, target marketing getting tougher & tougher. Now proper brands only can run with fulltime specialist teams or professional ad agencies.
Complex export setup & less facilities for big e-commerce platforms:
This is particular for those startups, who wants to export any line of products through big giants linke amazon, ebay or Alibaba, but not so linear system of export plus lack of Government interest makes this big opportunity more complex and less trustworthy. People are running amazon affiliate programs, exporting through 3rd country setup, making things impossible or at least difficult for small ventures or investee.
Shoppers previous shopping experience:
Surprisingly this is or may not be your fault, but generally people make sweeping statement based on their previous bad experience with someone else. This specially is the case with most less aware Pakistani shoppers who purchased from some not reliable daraz vendor & now they thing all e-commerce setup run on fake products. Although percentage is not so vital, but still is the factor, on which brands or new setup has to keep in mind to overcome this through their digital marketing.
50% return customers:
This is at least ratio of popular reliable brands. Therefore, security of return customer coming again and again can be a great asset for any business.
Message/ Purpose driven branding/ Brand CSR:
Not many brands are aware of opportunities this purpose driven branding can open for them. Because, consumers are educated now with more awareness of surrounding world, they are interested to see how their favorite brand interact with environment, their work force, their customers.
Authorized dealership or retailing:
At 1st phase, we saw physical brands taking e-commerce route. Now we have successful e-commerce brands how are going for physical retail, due to their huge online success & popularity. The biggest plus for integrated e-commerce business is that, it gives you more thorough insights & trends for any physical venture.
Un-touched cultural fusion fashion:
Un-explored cultural, provincial handmade fashion can be a great profiting tool for any e-commerce business, as their sourcing is of low cost. Branding of soil fashion can be a leading edge in fashion retailing.
Continuously increasing e shopping trend & customer database:
Increasing online purchase trend with market of 160 million with counting growing day by day, making this contemporary model more lucrative with the option of continuous data base building.
Calendar/ event base offers:
Seasonal fluke can give more rebust effect on business, as these round the year events are not confined to some space or some sect, as e commerce presence can cover all spaces, all events, all sects and segments. Say physical retailers at some remote area of KPK only take benefits from seasonal tourism but business online can sell, capitalize all events happening round the year in Pakistan.
Loyalty reward system:
This can increase opportunity of getting more repeat orders and more customer loyalty and brand attachment. Therefore, solid customer reward system, preferably non cash point system can lead to repeat customer order.
On cart discounts/ cart optimization:
Usage of proper automated, self responsive tools for direct & personalized marketing can lead to enhanced customer experience with business. Further, it will provide you real time data of what people are liking, what they are willing, what they wishing for etc.
Mobile app/ mobile friendly website/ Use Augmented reality:
All these aspects are very much crucial as well as can be result oriented. Because now businesses are getting 65% orders through hand held devices. Therefore, mobile friendly site, app & on advance stage augmented reality based experience can create leading edge & can increase store spend time of visitors, hence possibility of order conversion can increase.
Most cost effective way of marketing, when you pay someone after getting sale of your product. Affiliate programs enabling remote salesman to promote your products & get reward after he convince your sale. It offers great range of solutions for businesses, like you can reward anyone with cash, with points for purchase etc.
Proper & effective marketing strategy must include hybrid approach to market, in short to get paid traffic from social media paid campaigns & google ad words, but do focus on long term, highly rewarding SEO content strategy. As this will connect eagerly searching shoppers to highly ranked brands. Conversion of organic traffic is the most key aspect for any business sales.
1st ISO certified E-Commerce brand:
Neither Pakistan have reliable certification authority nor did our shoppers prefer to check such things. But with time & proper branding such things can ultimately people attention & consideration.
Unique visitor details & traffic trends:
Analytical, effective & swift usage of real time analytical data can give your marketing strategy cutting edge. As you can easily track from where your traffic comes from & where do they go, where they spend their time, which pages/ products rank high & so on.
Economies of scale with volume increase:
Applies to every kind of business, with larger scale you get larger volume, larger productions, hence greater economies. Even with lower production cost, e-commerce drop shipping charges also decreases for larger e-commerce retailers.
Opportunities for cross branding:
Business can get extra leverage from opportunity of cross marketing. Say you are running clothing store, using payment gateway from another telecom brand, shipping from courier company. Now you mention, promote them, they promote you. It will increase branding reach.
Without stocking can sale trading items:
Very popular approach for so many brands now a days, whether it’s in service sector like careem/uber/ foodpanda, or whether many e-commerce stores retailing on behalf of 3rd party sellers like daraz, house of calibre etc. E-commerce make this possible for specialist segments to step up & make collaboration to get unprecedented growth.
Lack of stock updates:
This specially is the case with business running on trading model, with own e-commerce platform to sell other party products. Further, if other party is having running wholesale or retail setup. Most of the time they don’t keep backup stock for other party online sale. Sometime, you generate order but ultimately find out that stock from wholesalers is no longer available. Therefore, this may can deter customers.
Frequent discounts reduce profitability:
To run a discount store, business have to run frequent sale offers. At least there has to be real sales and real value to money, at start of business, as new business wants to check their products with more sale aim and less profitability. But this is not the way forward. In a long run with increasing operational costs, business aim to have stable sale with more profits. Therefore, frequent sales can make it difficult for startup.
Extensive marketing cost:
This is the major reason for failure of many startups. Because they don’t get expected conversion from initial heavy marketing costs. Therefore, their lack of planning and low expectancy of failure making them vulnerable.
Continuous engagement & support:
Due to usage of round the clock internet, brands have to campaigned & stay engaged with potential customers 24/7. Therefore, their inquiries their needs, their issues to resolve or at least take up at instance, making this hectic. Like in seasonal sales time, battle to catch new customers must be supported by responsive customer service, otherwise chance of slip of customer is high in those times.
Rapidly changing customer behavior:
With digital launch of every brand, for every season making this very competitive & edgy for new startups having no continuous customer ship. Therefore, they may face problem of stock pile up of previous varieties. Aware customer changes mood heavily inspired by aggressive big brands campaign.
Return cost & fake orders:
Return cost & fake orders are the main impediments for new businesses, having limited sales & heavy marketing expenses. Sometime, orders get fake numbers & addresses. People don’t knows about website placements, they just try to checkout without any attention to buy.
Easy entry in e-commerce business:
Due to easy, free entry & no legal or corporate framework for e-commerce business. Participants are selling on social media aggressively, virtually anything without primary consideration to quality.
Lake of awareness of shoppers of quality suppliers:
In a cluster of brands & non-brands selling all kinds of stuff, may can overshadow presence of novel business. Therefore, lack of promotion of quality policy, happy customer reviews can leave you un-noticed, irrespective of good execution.