ISLAMABAD: While several sectors of Pakistan’s economy remain under immense pressure owing to COVID-19 led lockdowns, e-commerce is gathering unprecedented momentum, with stakeholders seeing this growth losing no steam post pandemic.
Pakistan is among the countries where e-commerce industry has been steadily on the rise, and the number of registered e-commerce merchants growing significantly over the past few years. After the outbreak of COVID-19, the industry touched new heights of success as people started adopting contactless buying and selling modes.
According to the latest data released by the State Bank of Pakistan, the country’s e-commerce market has seen a year-on-year growth of 78.9 percent in volume and 33.3 percent in value in fiscal year 2020 (from July, 1 2019 to June 30, 2020).
Central bank data showed the e-commerce revenue increased sharply by Rs2.3 billion to Rs9.4 billion in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year 2020, bringing the yearly revenue to Rs34.8 billion rupees.
COVID-19 has pushed people to turn towards online shopping. From groceries and household goods to clothing and shoes, and from accessories and indoor exercise equipment to electronics and digital gadgets, purchasers are relying heavily on the digital mode of buying.
Ahmad Saeed, co-founder of GrocerApp, said they have been running an online supermarket since 2016 in the eastern city of Lahore and their sales saw a strong growth during the pandemic.
“Our business has been registering a steady growth of 20 percent month-on-month before the pandemic, but now we have been receiving 50 percent more orders as demand shot up extraordinarily,” Saeed told Xinhua.
“Considering the boom in online shopping, we had launched our services in Islamabad in September last year and within four months our sales were at the point it took around three years when we started in Lahore,” he said. “The pandemic has taken the country’s e-commerce industry several years ahead,” Saeed said, adding that this boom was here to stay even after the pandemic.
Zulqarnain Shehzad, senior manager at Katvi.pk, a popular online mart delivering groceries and fresh produce in Islamabad and Rawalpindi cities, told Xinhua said their online orders were continuously growing since March.
“Though we had been witnessing a significant growth in our online business as digital economy is on the boom in the country, the sales after the outbreak of the disease were unparalleled,” Shezad said.
“Due to the growing trend of online shopping, we faced difficulty in fulfilling the orders in the beginning, and at times we had to stop receiving online orders,” he said, adding that despite all the challenges, their company adopted new solutions and took instant measures to cater to the high demand.
“Customers feel secure shopping online as we follow all the anti-COVID standard operating procedures while delivering products to their doorsteps.” “We check the temperature of our employees, equip them with sanitisers and masks and instruct them to maintain required social distance,” he added.
The current trend of online shopping had started as a necessity to stem the spread of the disease, and it was becoming a new normal for Pakistani public as consumers were now experiencing it for themselves and seeing how easy and effective it was, Muhammad Ammar Hassan, chief marketing officer at Daraz, one of Pakistan’s largest online stores, told Xinhua.
“The online shopping landscape has changed in Pakistan with more people embracing e-commerce as it has become inevitable in the current scenario,” Hassan said, adding that many retailers and merchants who had not felt the need to run online platforms to sell their products in the past were now adopting this path for their own survival.
He said before COVID-19, cash on delivery was estimated to be widely used as a payment method for transactions between customers and e-commerce retailers owing to problems and consumers’ hesitation while transacting online. “Due to fear of coronavirus, many people have stopped paying for goods through currency notes and are now making payments through digital cards, which will greatly help promote our digital economy,” Hassan added.
Daraz official said introduction of more effective laws for protecting, incentivising, and promoting the industry and safeguarding vendors interests could transform e-commerce into a leading economic sector of the country.
Source: the news