E-commerce has become a regular part of developed countries. Many businesses have changed shape, form, and mode of working after going digital. The pandemic was a major catalyst in making this change stronger and much effective than ever.
Pakistan is a developing country with almost 63 percent of the population between ages 15 and 33. This bracket of youth has been exposed to technology very early in their lives. Apart from using technology for their leisure activities, many of them also use it for work and buying many products online. This pillar of the population played an important role in speeding up the digital revolution and growth of e-commerce in Pakistan.
However, the scenario changed with Covid-19 hitting the world. The brick and mortar model of business had no customers as everything was closed. But in such times, the online business and e-commerce sector boomed.
The Silver Lining for All
The truth is that change is the only constant thing. In 2019, Pakistan was the 46th largest market for e-commerce giving revenue of $2127 million. Consequently, in 2020 Pakistan saw more sales online versus offline due to the pandemic.
The business sector slowly had to adapt and come online to make their business grow.
Ecommerce Reloaded in 2020
Pakistan has embraced the new normal, just like the rest of the world. Not only, the consumer behavior shaped differently. But also industries, companies, and individual stores all took the plunge and went ahead with their digital presence and activation for users.
Previously, the preferred shopping mode was in-store. Most people preferred buying from the stores be it an item of bread or clothing. Eventually, things started changing when people starting hailing cabs and ordering foods online. This was a slow albeit, a strong change that made people realize the importance of convenience.
There was a change in the ratio of women becoming part of the workforce. As this change became significant, more men and women started opting for online buying. This occurred as more families had less time to spare for the monotonous task of buying items from shops and stores. However, this percentage of buyers was still not big enough for many businesses to consider going online.
After the lockdown and the Covid scare, market dynamics changed. The biggest giant store to a Kirana store next to your apartment building all had no choice but to reinvent their modus operandi. Everyone was on to making their Facebook pages, taking Instagram orders, and finally ending up making a website or an app for their users.
As more people garner online shopping experience in Pakistan they want websites and apps, which make the buyer feel more secure and have a better image of the selling platform.
The Bigger Picture for Pakistanis
As the COVID vaccine is under trial all over the world. We know things will get back to normal sometime soon. However, the change has been made. Nobody thought that ordering pampers and medicines online was easy. The housewives had a pattern of ringing their husbands or stepping out themselves to buy things that were needed before the grocery shopping day came.
In Pakistan, the landscape of e-commerce changed as people were seen ordering masks, sanitizers, baby food, diapers even life-saving medicines all online to avoid stepping out of the house. This is a new level of comfort that society realized. Now, we see that in the long run shopping will be done online.
More and more brands have morphed and relaxed their post-sale services for the buyers. This means that any kind of flaw or defect can be exchanged and the shopping experience made safer online for the user.
Nazir Ahmed a sexagenarian residing in Karachi was staying at home with his wife during the lockdown. On being asked about why he likes online shopping, his reply was simple “My kids live abroad. At first, they used websites from their countries to order weekly fruits and groceries. Then one day I sat with a neighbor’s kid learned the science of online buying. It is difficult at my age, but I am learning it with many mistakes in between.”
This indicates that literacy is another factor that makes people opt for buying online in Pakistan.
Authentic Online Platforms Stay Strong
The trouble with online business is the fact that the Pakistani market has a significant rate of fraud and inferior products. Many people refrain from ordering online when they receive counterfeit products. This occurs when a platform curates products from various vendors without a strong verification procedure. To convert such a fragment of society into online buyers the environment should be safer.
Users, resort to their friends and family recommendations when looking for a trusted website for buying. This year many online stores mushroomed and went unnoticed as well as brought down due to their quality of products and service.
On the other hand, some great websites saw this opportunity and surfaced online. One such portal was ecart.com.pk
The variety on this one ranges from hand sanitizers to the latest Apple phones. The customer service was swift and the products genuine. We got original products for the kitchen and home use as gift items for winter weddings. The point was that if work is done from home, why not even shop from home and get original products without going to markets full of people.
All in all, e-commerce is now a part of life in a way that we start and end our day with it. We start with online breakfast order, then buy a few shirts online and end up browsing through the best gadgets on a website. So saying that we are untouched by e-commerce is not true. Somewhere everyone is using the technology.
However, slowly we are realizing how well we can use the technology to our advantage and make lives easier.