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By Farihah Zaima Faruque

Daraz ramps up their digital platform

EMBRACING ALIBABA AND ITS SINGLES DAY CAMPAIGN
The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba officially acquired Daraz on 8 May 2018. Daraz, the biggest online marketplace of Bangladesh (daraz.com.bd) which was previously a part of Alibaba’s ecosystem, gained access to state of the art technology provided by Alibaba. Initially, the “Seller Summit 2018” was organized by Daraz so that buyers and sellers could take advantage of the new technology. Along with that, the 11.11 or the Singles Day campaign was launched for the first time in Bangladesh and it turned out to be a great success. The event was the first of its kind and was set to revolutionize regional e-commerce. The campaign could be described as the world’s largest online shopping festival, which was bigger than Amazon Prime Day and 2.5 times bigger than Black Friday. The campaign broke all previous sales records by a big margin. The surging sales number definitely indicates the curiosity and wide consumer-acceptance of the campaign. Features such as Daraz Mall, E-store and top-ups, Wishlist, Follow Vouchers, new secured and safe Check-out (including Card on File option) of the new Daraz APP was there to grab consumers’ attention. During the one-day campaign products with up to 83% discount were available on Daraz. The special attractions of this campaign were exclusive 11-taka deal, mystery box, double taka voucher, flash sale, brand vouchers, bank discounts, and many more. 11.11 was more than just deals and discounts – it successfully brought Daraz’s entire digital ecosystem into play: a combo of artificial intelligence — assisted personalization, entertainment, massive deals, secure payment solutions, and an assortment of more than 400,000 products. It could be said that all parties including sellers, vendors, brands, and customers have been benefited by the new world-class technology. Daraz (daraz.com.bd) has been able to provide customers with more advanced services through Alibaba’s advanced technology and knowledge. Consumers appreciation of Daraz’s new upgraded system following the acquisition by Alibaba and the success of the new campaigns leaves a good opportunity for Daraz to organize the sellers’ summit every year.

BRANDING CAMPAIGNS ACROSS SOUTHEAST ASIA
Every country or region has its own unique characteristics which are applicable for all industries and therefore branding campaigns take the customized approach keeping in mind the consumer’s behavior and expectations. Most of the South Asian markets where Daraz operates in are similar in most aspects. However, it is important to improvise keeping the demand and consumer necessity in mind as per the needs of the country. The major difference could be identified in the purchasing pattern of the customers. For example, people in Sri Lanka or Pakistan prefer paying through their debit or credit cards whereas, in Bangladesh, people prefer mobile wallets. Looking back to when Daraz wanted to establish Black Friday in Pakistan; it wanted to develop a comprehensive digital campaign to increase awareness and drive 1 billion rupees ($13.8 million U.S.) worth of sales. The brand ended up tripling its sales goal, driving a 2 times increase in reach and a 3 times increase in conversions. Daraz focused on bringing the excitement of holiday shopping events to Pakistan and therefore the brand introduced the concept of Black Friday in 2015 by offering product discounts. It then expanded its efforts in 2016. In 2017, Daraz teamed with Google and discovered a 3 times year over year surge in search queries around “Black Friday,” prompting the brand to establish a comprehensive digital campaign, with the lofty goal of driving at least 1 billion rupee sales within the Black Friday period from November 24 to November 27 of that year.

The marketing strategy is not complicated but rather simple. A rather effective approach is by picking up on relevant trends from each country where their offers and deals are showcased in while keeping in mind that cultural needs are typically different. Due to this norm, Daraz navigates its own way of connecting with the wide consumer base in Bangladesh. In an attempt to keep in touch with the Bengali culture, Daraz has renamed the Black Friday campaign to Fatafati Friday, the name in itself retains a touch of Bangladesh. Like other e-commerce companies, there are various other ways of branding in Bangladesh too- sponsoring events, TV advertisements, Digital billboards, Social Media Online Platform, vehicle stickers, packaging and last but not the least CSR projects. Conducting extensive CSR programs eventually helps in the branding of Daraz directly. On 13th January 2019, Daraz Bangladesh launched its special project ‘Daraz Nandini’ for women. It was a special campaign titled ‘Power Women’ that continued for a week. For a country like Bangladesh, it is important to ensure women’s social and economic advancement and the campaign strived to highlight that ideology. Trying to connect to user sentiments also works well for the brand.

BLACK FRIDAY VS 11:11 ACROSS DARAZ REGIONS
Black Friday is a globally celebrated sales event and on the other hand 11:11 is essentially a sale day celebrated by Alibaba (for the past 10 years) which is globally 2.5 times bigger than Black Friday. In 2015, Daraz brought Black Friday to Bangladesh and localized it by naming it Fatafati Friday. Meanwhile, Daraz celebrated 11.11 sale day for the first time in Bangladesh on 11 November 2018 after being acquired by Alibaba. This campaign was able to break all previous sales record by a big margin. By far, 11.11 is Daraz’s biggest campaign. Looking into another lucrative market of Daraz i.e. Pakistan, Black Friday when it was launched, was a massive success. It was able to show the true power of digitization and how Pakistani consumers were adopting digital platforms. Full-funnel digital investment really changed the game, creating awareness, consideration, and intent. This helped to reach new audiences with the right compelling messages. Daraz has been one of the pioneers in introducing Black Friday sale in Pakistan and has been holding this sale for the last couple of years. However, last year due to user traffic the website crashed during the sale. However, on the positive side, Alibaba also set a new record with $31 billion sales in 24 hrs. Realistically Daraz ‘s 11.11 sale hasn’t performed well as per customers’ expectations due to limited discounts, unplanned users’ traffic and users’ security breach in Pakistan.

The 11:11 sales were observed in other regions where Daraz operates- Nepal, Srilanka, and Myanmar. In Nepal, there is still a considerable amount of negligence when it comes to online shopping and it’s not used widely. The sales day which was launched to attract Nepali customers towards e-commerce got a lousy review on Social Media. It was found that some of the items were sold at a higher price than in other e-commerce sites.

Technological Upgrade and impact on Branding & PR
According to market experts, there are around 2 million online purchasers active in Bangladesh. Due to Alibaba’s acquisition, Bangladeshi customers are able to purchase products directly from Alibaba’s vast marketplace without requiring to pay the high shipment charges and customs duty. Daraz can now enable and empower entrepreneurs to better serve the consumers in the region through its additional technology and expertise. The acquisition further made it easier for Daraz to leverage on Alibaba’s leadership and experience in online commerce, technology, mobile payment, and logistics to drive further growth in the five South Asian markets that have a cumulative population of over 46 crores out of which 60% are under the age of 35 years. This 60% could be identified as Daraz’s prime customers.

Technological upheaval due to Alibaba’s acquisition is a blessing for the e-commerce industry in Bangladesh. Alibaba’s arrival also indicates that the e-commerce market in Bangladesh has huge potential. The artificial intelligence (AI) of the new Daraz app benefited the customers significantly. Also, from the seller’s point of view, technological advancement was an absolute necessity. From a branding and PR perspective, Daraz now has Alibaba’s technology and system to track and analyze the digital marketing mechanism. The advanced technology requires Daraz to frequently educate the mass people about this through effective branding and PR. This is a ‘blue ocean strategy’ for branding and PR, as no other company in the market uses such advanced technology. Since consumers have been very receptive towards the upgraded Daraz website and coupled with the new features, consumers are likely to be enthused to learn the usage of the new app. Daraz has re-launched their app with personalization and customization thus, giving customers the liberty to update their profile and their interests. The app can feature related products on the basis of the customers’ interest and give exclusive discounts on weekends and on multiple occasions in collaboration with different brands.

Norms for promotional campaigns
Since the inception of Daraz, the e-commerce company strives to deep dive into the customer journey. This made it easier to find patterns in the consumption nature of consumers, while third-party marketing channels act as a medium to understand which kind of products, deals, and discounts attract specifically targeted groups. Daraz is an MNC with its presence in Pakistan, Srilanka, Myanmar, and Nepal along with Bangladesh. Therefore, local tradition of each country needs to be prioritized which is why it is important to come up with campaigns such as Bangla New Year, Grand Grocery, etc which also focuses on mass customers who have less purchasing power. Besides, special campaigns such as Valentine’s Day campaign, Anniversary campaign, Ramadan Campaign, Happy Shopping Campaign and 11:11 campaign are regular campaigns with attractive deals and discounts which has helped establish the relevance of the brand, and the rise in sales has led to increases in turnover for the company.

Daraz Bangladesh’s new project “Daraz Nandini” was launched earlier this year. The main goal of this project was to create independent women entrepreneurs through e-commerce education. As a tribute to women, this all year round project includes several campaigns every month with massive discounts, flash sales, and attractive vouchers. The 7-day Power Women campaign from 13th January to 19TH January 2019 offered up to 76% discount for customers along with flash deals on Fashion, Wellness, and Beauty and other Outdoor products. The special attraction of this campaign included free delivery across the country and also highlighted TVS and Suzuki brand scooters at affordable prices, especially for women. Through such promotional activities, Daraz is successfully creating social awareness for women and their needs, at the same time fulfilling their Corporate Social Responsibility.

Daraz Pakistan has also set out to step up their game and user experience for consumers by recently commemorating the occasion of Pakistan Day. Daraz launched its Pakistan Day Sale, from March 20 to March 26 with discounts up to 70%. The event offered top deals and discounts across all categories on the e-commerce website.

Effectively tapping into the minds of consumers and their sentiments while launching promotional campaigns surely has helped Daraz to garner its popularity and wide usage, cementing its presence across South East Asia.

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