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E-Commerce All Set To Change The Face Of Business in Pakistan, Despite Challenges

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Just a few years ago, purchasing anything online seemed as wild as existence of aliens. However with evolution of technology, anyone with a smart phone and an internet connection can now successfully look up, explore and order goods online. Not to mention the benefit of having the product delivered to their doorstep and that too with a return option.

E-commerce has modernised business operation around the globe and the convenience of online transactions has influenced both consumers and businesses alike.

It has become necessary for every local or national businesses to be accessible online through websites and other applications. Ease of use, accessibility and need to keep up with digitalisation has led all businesses to step ahead and invest in online stores and marketing.

Pakistan is no exception as one of the quickest developing e-commerce countries in the world. The country has acquired a noteworthy rate of mobile and web penetration in South Asia with 40 million Internet supporters and 20 million Facebook clients.

The State Bank has put the size of the e-commerce market at Rs 99.3 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 18-19, with an expected growth rate of 92 percent in the following years. Sales of local and e-commerce merchants are seen to be reaching Rs 40.1b, almost double the amount as compared to FY17-18’s Rs 20.7 billion.

Within a year, e-commerce has shown a dramatic growth of about 93 percent, despite sharing only one percent of the total retail shopping in the country and being limited to the 21 percent citizens with functional bank accounts.

Pakistan’s e-commerce market has yet to mature, being a developing country with unstable economic conditions, Pakistan lacks the infrastructure required for the establishment of an e-business environment; such as availability of internet, trust, social awareness and acceptance/lack of technological advancements.

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According to data collected by several e-commerce companies, more than 90 percent of their online customers use cash on delivery (COD) as the only payment option rather than through credit or debit cards.

The data sheds light on two issues. The first that people experience a lack of trust while using their credit and debit cards for online payment and the second that they most probably do not own one. On the brighter side however, e-commerce sector has the vast potential to grow.

With penetration of smart phones and cellular data to an increased population it is highly likely that the e-commerce sector’s development chart will move upwards in the coming years.

Introduction of facilities like Uber, Food Panda, online clothing/grocery stores and many more; people are increasingly drawn towards e-commerce because it saves their time, energy and day to day expenses of commuting, but it has yet to build trust in the consumer.

Despite challenges, e-commerce has grown beyond measures and has attracted global ecommerce giant, Alibaba, which recently acquired Daraz.pk. Considering the rate at which smart phones and 3G/4G networking is spreading to rural areas and ease of availability, a brighter future for e-commerce isn’t very far ahead. More and more people are becoming aware of technology, and the urge to attain it is bringing about digitalisation and awareness. Since internet and online shopping brings numerous advantages that increase the businesses profitability, every local retailer is looking forward to stepping up his game. Having an online purchasing option for customers is a modern day obligation and prerequisite for every big or small business to remain in the race. E-commerce is growing in the country with a macroeconomic perspective and the figures are there to support this notion. There is no limit to the number of opportunities that e-commerce has and will provide the business sector with in the future. It is up to the businesses now to evolve and benefit from the technology in order to grow and become more successful than ever before.

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