Despite having their work cut out for them by a government which steeply discounts the importance of IT – with unfair taxes, and scary Cyber Crime Bill – Pakistan’s eCommerce industry keeps on marching forward.
Late last year, the Pakistan’s eCommerce market was estimated to be worth $100 million. Experts now predict an increase to $600 million by next year, and to $1 billion by 2020 – an incredible 10x growth in just five years. This hyper-growth is being led by giants like TCS’ Yayvo, Daraz and Kaymu, Zameen.com and OLX. Millions are being spent on marketing and expansion to capture both market and mindshare of the 30 million and growing Internet users in the country.
Looking beyond the big players, one can find even greater positive signs in scrappy eCommerce startups. A recent trend worth observing is the rise of price comparison startups, something we’ll get to in a moment.
Since mainstream eCommerce is relatively new, companies are still learning how to optimally balance customer and business interest. Many online stores sell the same products, but do so over an incredibly wide spectrum of prices, delivery times, warranties, and customer experiences. It is not uncommon to find the same mobile phone being sold for much more on another store, making online shopping a confusing experience for new users.
This is the problem services like PriceOye.pk are tackling head on. The price comparison service compares prices from all trusted online stores in Pakistan, thus helping consumers instantly find the lowest price. Let’s dive in!
Quality vs. quantity for price comparison
While a couple other services offer more categories, PriceOye.pk focuses completely on price comparison for mobile phones only. It’s a conscious design choice for a relatively new startup, as mobile phones are the single most popular category in eCommerce. It appears to be serving them well, as the current website is pretty simple to use, has all the latest phones you expect, and decent, automatically updated price lists for most of them.
All the phones are sorted by brands which you can select from the sidebar on left which has all major mobile brands like Apple, Samsung and Huawei. Clicking on any of them opens the latest phones from that brands listed in a card-style interface. You can also filter phones of a particular brand by price, or specifications like screen size, camera, RAM, and operating system. We tried to find a way to filter all phones – not just of a particular brand – but were unable to do so.
You can also quickly search for any phone. The prominent search bar on the top right is made effective with auto-suggestions that load underneath as you type. This brings us to the more important part of the website: the actual products and their lowest prices.
Useful price lists with much room for improvement
Once you’ve found your phone of choice, you are taken to its dedicated page where you’ll find a quick overview of its key specifications, the lowest online price, a color/storage switcher, an easy to read price list, followed by detailed hardware specifications, and a description.
The real meat lies in the automatically updated price list, so that is where we focused our attention the most. For popular phones like the new Galaxy Note 7, you’ll easily find 3-4 listed prices. However, for less popular phones, it’s not uncommon to find a single price or no price at all. Still, this is better than other price estimation websites like WhatMobile which displays only one price which you’re never sure if it represents the cheapest price or not.
We were also disappointed by the lack of details on these prices. Sure, iShopping may be selling the phone for the lowest price, but at what cost? There are some absurd price differences, at times going up to Rs. 15,000. I personally know it is because stores like Daraz and TCS Yayvo come with official warranty and the phones brought to Pakistan through more legal channels which increases cost. So, it would be nice to have this important information clarified in the price list next to each store’s name.
We did really like the price charts feature at the bottom of each product page, though. It’s not particularly useful, but it gives you good idea of how a phone’s price has decreased over time which could potentially help you make better decisions.
And that essentially covers PriceOye.pk. There isn’t much else to the service. Sure, you can see the most popular phones in the right sidebar (a low-end QMobile sounds odd, though), and there’s a newsletter you can subscribe to for discount vouchers, but that’s about it. We wish we could do more with the website. I know I would appreciate an SMS or email price alert feature. As someone eyeing the iPhone 7 Plus, it would be nice to know when its price drops beyond, say, Rs. 85,000.
PriceOye.pk is a good start for a price comparison service, and it does have decent utility for those of us who are into mobile phones, but it has huge, untapped potential in our growing e-Commerce market. We will keep an eye on its development and bring you noteworthy updates, so stay tuned!