My Terrible Yet Oddly Fantastic Black Friday Shopping Experience

As a technology enthusiast, I have always been in awe of the incredible deals that go live on Black Friday in the USA and Europe. So, when Daraz, Kaymu, and HomeShopping announced they would be offering similar deals in Pakistan on November 27th, they had my curiosity!

Two days before Black / White / what-you-may-call-it Friday deals went live, Daraz announced they would be selling the 16GB iPhone 6S for an unbelievable Rs. 62,279. That’s $590. This was simply the lowest price for an iPhone 6S anywhere in the world!

They had my curiosity, now they had my attention.

When the deal went live at midnight on Nov 27th, I already had the iPhone 6S in my cart on Daraz.pk. I quickly clicked on ‘Confirm Order’ only to be shown a fatal error. After snooping around, I discovered that Daraz had altogether removed the discounted iPhone 6S from its site less than two minutes after the deal went live. This abrupt removal of valuable products was their first mistake on Black Friday.

Annoyed at Daraz for having wasted my time, I posted this message on Facebook, as well as on the popular Pakistan Startups group:

There are many other posts (each of those is a separate link, by the way) of people sharing similarly bad experiences. We all felt that Daraz’s Black Friday deals were a complete farce since valuables items weren’t available on discount, and the items that were available on discount were of no real value. This is besides general availability issues, and poor customer support.

Later that same day, however, after regularly checking Daraz’s listings for the iPhone 6S, my colleagues at Jumpshare were able to order not one, not two, but three iPhone 6Ses — one of which had my name on it. (Thanks Naveed, Jahanzeb, and Ghaus!)

As Pakistanis, we generally don’t trust businesses to put customers first, so I maintained my state of disbelief until earlier today when I successfully received my brand new iPhone 6S for Rs. 62,279 — as marketed by Daraz.

Yes, I was able to successfully purchase a valuable, discounted item on Black Friday in Pakistan!

This reminded me of Hanlon’s Razor:

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

These online shopping websites weren’t out to make a grand fool out of all of us. They were simply unable to meet the hype they had generated themselves, and were further unable to control the damage they were causing to their reputation. Daraz’s second crippling mistake was poor reputation management.

Daraz delivered it in two working days.

I feel there is a strong communication gap between their marketing, sales, and IT teams. Instead of removing products from the site, they could’ve shown an ‘out of stock’ message. Instead of boisterously claiming they were ready to handle all of Pakistan’s online population, they could’ve actually prepared their site to handle so much traffic. Let your work speak for itself. They should’ve particularly allocated more resources to customer support. Furthermore, an honest blogpost from their upper management transparently detailing what went wrong with their operations on Black Friday would immensely help reduce negative word of mouth.

All in all, I believe this was a great learning experience for our online shopping websites. I expect even better Black Friday deals and experiences from Daraz, HomeShopping and perhaps even Flipkart ;) in 2016.

Alright, back to work on my Windows blog, and eCommerce website.