Tech-savvy small businesses making big bucksArchive
KARACHI: The rise of social media has given a new dimension to marketing.
Large companies are using it to further their recognition by providing customers with easier access to their promotions.
Having social media accounts helps companies attract customer traffic. Marketing costs are also low. Almost every business utilises social media to interact with customers and build brand credibility.
But it isn’t just established companies that are benefitting from this. A new category of small-scale businesses has emerged due to the rising influence of these interactive platforms. These are home-based manufacturers who depend entirely on websites like Facebook and Instagram to sell their products.
The products sold by these businesses include baked goods, customised phone cases and accessories, home-made lamps, ornaments etc. And surprisingly, these ventures are very active, receiving orders on a regular basis and constantly innovating to bring new products.
One such setup is a jewellery and accessory line named Tinsel, which was started by a 17-year-old student, Azka Agha, in 2014. Already possessing a precocious aptitude for art, she learnt the basics of jewellery-making from her mother and started experimenting on her own.
The idea of turning this hobby into a business dawned on her when her friends and schoolmates showed an interest in the products she designed and offered to buy them from her. From a very small investment, Tinsel has grown into a serious business two years on, with more than 5,000 followers online.
There are several reasons behind the success of these ventures. The first one is that these businesses usually manufacture luxury goods, which are not easily available in the local market but are nonetheless in demand. For bigger companies looking for
high profits, investing in the manufacture and sale of these products may not be feasible, and that is where these small start-ups step in.
The high elasticity of demand for such products means that manufacturers also have to strive to keep prices low in order to increase sales.
The second reason is the ease with which customers can order products simply by direct messaging on these social websites. Orders are then delivered to the customer usually with nominal delivery charges. This is a highly attractive feature that ensures there is no deterrent between buyer and seller.
But it is easy for a brand to lose recognition amid the constant flux on social media. “By paying constant attention to my brand, I have to ensure that people don’t forget about it, by coming out with new products monthly, by checking my messages constantly and by retaining a standard of customer service,” remarked Azka.
This new facet of small-scale manufacturers could be promising for Pakistan’s own cottage-based industries producing handicrafts, embroidery and other such products. These industries are being pushed into the background owing to their inability to target interested customers.
Most of them are reliant on tourists and do not have a customer reach beyond that. This provides an opportunity to young, tech-savvy entrepreneurs to partner with these artisans and enable increased market access for these products.
Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2016