Pakistani E-Commerce Ventures Look Global

Adam Dawood
11:45 am on Jun 20, 2013

Adam Dawood is the founding partner of DYL Ventures, a Pakistan-centric internet consultancy firm. You can find him on Twitter as @adamdawood.

Pakistani E-Commerce Ventures Look Global

The e-commerce sector in Pakistan is increasingly looking to global markets. Indeed, it started in 2002 with Tohfay (pictured below) specializing in delivering gifts to Pakistani residents from their relatives or loved ones around the world. It is now one of the most recognized brands in the Pakistani e-commerce space, and looking forward to greater growth with its redesign last year.

Then there is Tradekey, which is a B2B marketplace for connecting small- and medium-sized businesses across the world. Established in 2005, TradeKey has a member base of over seven million from 240 countries, and over 10 million buyers and sellers visit the website every month. The world’s third largest B2B portal, Tradekey is pushing China’s hard.

Following the examples of Tohfay and Tradekey are newer sites like and Labels E-Store (pictured), which both want to export Pakistani fashion to the world. has just opened its cupboard to the international market, while Labels has been delivering internationally since inception last year. Partnering with DHL, both firms now deliver products to Pakistanis abroad, who are known for their high spending. Generally on trips back home to Pakistan, they return with large suitcases filled with locally designed clothes and jewellery, but now they can just as easily shop from the comfort of their home in any nation and have those items delivered internationally.

Pakistan ecommerce, Tohfay

Taking international orders is however not a small undertaking due to the legal ramifications. Zahid Jamil of law firm Jamil and Jamil stated at a recent conference that holding a customer’s personal information (such as their address, credit card details, etc) can be a breach of a country’s privacy law.

The European Union, for example, passed a set of data laws that require a company holding EU citizens’ data outside of its border comply with rules such as:

  • Users have the right to demand that data about them be deleted if there are, the EU states, no “legitimate grounds” for it to be kept.
  • Organisations must notify the authorities about data breaches as early as possible, “if feasible within 24 hours”.
  • In cases where consent is required organisations must explicitly ask for permission to process data, rather than assume it.
  • Companies with 250 or more employees will have to appoint a data protection officer.

That’s quite a challenge for Pakistani e-stores with customers in Europe. The penalties for non-compliance can result in a fine of up to 0.5 percent of the firm’s global turnover.

Despite that hurdle, there’s still a lot of scope for domestic and overseas growth. That’s why Pakistan is Asia’s next frontier for entrepreneurs and investors.

  • Obaid Rehman

    I just would like to clear one thing that EU data rules need to be approved by the EU’s member states and ratified by the European Parliament before they can come into effect.

    That could take two or more years, during which time they may be amended or rejected outright according to BBC website:

  • Websites NOW

    Those EU rules seem pretty heavy handed. Could a Pakistani company just setup a subsidiary within the EU boundaries that only serves to take payment and handle customer data?

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  • shujibhuji

    The eCommerce in Pakistan is definitely a big hit for SMB community in online shopping. Pakistan may be one of the under developed countries but its got the same fashion spirit and versatility as its neighboring country India. I do agree the TradeKey is pushing back AliBaba. Tradekey is good for this country as it will be flourishing open markets for fashion labels, ecommerce business and all kind of traders and small and big retailers. As in article like Daraz and eLabelStore there are so many other fashion Pakistani commerce sites coming up too. There is this upcoming too. Do visit there page as its a dedicated all Pakistani-made products and goods shopping portal. Visit them at and enjoy their product line. They are true Pakistani enthusiasts who sell men and women fashion accessories, apparel, sports goods and handicrafts only privileging Pakistan-made materials.

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