In conversation with Saman Javed, Head of Marketing Communications, Daraz. She has been working with Daraz for five years and worked on some exciting campaigns. In this conversation, she talks about how she has lead the department to make Daraz stronger to lead the e-commerce industry and how were things when she joined. Let’s have a look:
Q. Tell us about your progression into this leadership role.
Long before Daraz turned into a multi-million-dollar online retailing powerhouse, it was just a few people working in a shared space in Karachi – I was one of them. In 2014, I assumed the role of PR lead. Over time that role has expanded to encompass all aspects of marketing communications and brand management. From looking at external communication to events, creatives, I have overseen a lot of functions that have helped Daraz grow as a brand. Over the past five years, Daraz has evolved tremendously and I am grateful for getting the opportunity to play a role in driving the company from a small start-up in Pakistan to the region’s largest online marketplace.
Q. What do you enjoy most about serving Daraz at this position?
When we started Daraz, we focused as much on building awareness about the e-commerce ecosystem as we did on growing Daraz. We wanted to put online retail on the map and we have worked hard to do that. We had to weather the dot-com fear and turn online shopping into a matter of habit for consumers all over the region. Being able to drive something so impactful at large is exhilarating. I am at Daraz to create change, to innovate – that’s the most exciting part of my job.
Q. How was the acquisition of Daraz by Alibaba played out for the marketing communications team?
Since the acquisition by Alibaba, Daraz has become even more dynamic than ever before. The company has access to unprecedented technology and is able to use it to empower customers and sellers alike. For the marketing communications team, it is the most exciting time. Last year, we launched 11.11, the biggest sale of the year. 11.11 is a trademark Alibaba sale and every year it sets new records. We had a great time executing that event and kicked-off the sale with the 11.11 Gala which was a 3-hour long live show aired on a TV channel with interactive games and tech integrations that Pakistan has never seen before. We are gearing up for that event again now and are excited for Pakistanis to see what we are able to pull off.
Q. How is Daraz equipped to lead the ecommerce industry in Pakistan?
Daraz is the leading ecommerce platform in the region for reasons more than 1.
- Infrastructure: We have focused heavily on infrastructure and logistics in the past year to find solutions to the challenges that ecommerce companies face. We are the only ecommerce company working on fully digitizing the industry. Last year, we launched Daraz Express (DEX), which is the country’s first logistics company designed specifically for ecommerce operations. DEX, that delivers over 55% of the Daraz orders has helped us shorten the order fulfillment time and thus, enhance customer satisfaction. We are also working with other logistics companies and helping them digitize.
- Technology: We have the best in class technology backed by artificial intelligence and machine learning. The technologies allow us to constantly innovate and offer our customers and sellers opportunities not available anywhere else.
- Financial Inclusion: Wide acceptance of digital payments is the key to a prosperous ecommerce ecosystem. We are working very hard every day to facilitate financial inclusion for all. In the same light, we launched the Daraz wallet, a closed-loop wallet driving 50% of Daraz’s prepayment share.
- Seller education: Technology and seller education are key to creating a safe and happy shopping experience. We are investing heavily on our sellers, in educating them, providing them assistance and the tools to bring the best service levels. We are leading the ecommerce industry because we are driven by two things: to empower our sellers and improve our customer experience. These are the bottom lines for all the initiatives that we take. We have educated more than 30,000 sellers through Daraz University in ecommerce operations.
Q. What should customers expect from Daraz before 2019 comes to an end?
2019 has been an exciting year for us as we’ve reached many milestones. Our product assortment grew to 7 million. We launched a number of features such as Instant Messaging, Shake Shake, Image Reviews and more. We have also completely revived our fashion category and grown the Global Collections assortment to over 2 million. We are also launching Collection Points soon, offering customers an option to avail free delivery and order collection at time of convenience.
That being said, the end of the year is always the most exciting time of the year for us, its when we launch 11.11, our biggest event of the year, all teams are working super hard to bring the very best and break records yet again. There’s a lot more that we have in store before we wrap up the year!
Q. What is the division of males and females at Daraz?
Daraz takes pride in being one of the few companies in the country that is very inclusive – we have a very healthy male-to-female ratio. We have women in leadership positions, including myself. We also have young mothers.
Q. What advice do you have for female professionals who are in, or looking to take up leadership roles?
Believe in yourself, understand your value and surround yourself with smart people who encourage you. Don’t ever succumb to any pressure that drags you down, just keep swimming.