- How to take the country into the modern world
By: Amjad Ali
With the advancement of technology and the availability of the fastest internet connections at our disposal, the entire world is virtually at our fingertips. Due to these innovations, the concept of globalisation emerged and the world is getting more and more integrated with every passing day, so that we are now the citizens of the global village. This integration process with the help of these technological tools gave rise to the e-commerce, a virtual space where buyers and sellers exchange goods and services. On the one hand, this market is booming in different countries, on the other, it has not yet realised its full potential in Pakistan.
In advanced countries, e-commerce has almost replaced the traditional markets by offering online goods and services. For instance, Alibaba, Amazon, etc. are connecting buyers and sellers by providing them space at their platforms, which has also facilitated the consumers to seek the products of their choice at the most competitive rates and even without physically visiting the markets. More often than not, the consumers have to struggle to find the products of their choice keeping in view the variety, price and quality. They run up to many shops and markets in search and procurement of that article. Thus, e-commerce has facilitated acquiring that product with one click on our computer screens or by one phone call, as e-commerce and tele-business are interlinked. Not to speak of saving-time. After all, “time is like money or even more precious than that”.
It is high time that the government promotes e-commerce for the benefit of the citizens, entrepreneurs and boosting the crippling economy. The government should make necessary efforts for ensuring that the buyers are provided with the best quality of goods and services
This writer also has a satisfactory experience with the mushrooming e-commerce industry. Lately, I purchased a tablet from Saudi Arabia which had not been launched in Pakistan by then. For the safety of tablet, I embarked on a journey to search for a foldable protective cover. After searching few famous markets, I abandoned asking for the tablet cover shop after the stop from the bustling streets of Karachi, as it was a very exhausting exercise. Convinced that my issue could be remedied by an online search, I came across the famous Alibaba which offered unique options. Though hesitant as it was my first experience with online purchasing, I ordered and surprisingly received the product of the standard quality. Thereafter, I have been convinced no one can stop the thriving e-commerce juggernaut.
In addition, recently a friend of mine took me to visit young entrepreneur Mr. Javed at hiss Urban Tailor House, which offers home pick-up and delivery tailoring services. During the visit, my friend asked Mr. Javed how he got this idea. He responded that he got his inspiration from the e-commerce giants such as Alibaba, Amazon, Daraz, and so on, as they are also offering similar services, choose-order-delivery of the product. Similarly, his start-up Urban Tailor House is following their footsteps by picking up the unstitched clothes, after getting them stitched from his dynamic team according to the wishes of the customer such as designing, are delivered back to the customers within the stipulated time at reasonable service charges. I was surprised to see that the young entrepreneur is offering the innovative idea that we may get our clothes stitched with one click or call. This has made me repose my confidence in the positive use of technology. While visiting the website, I came across shopping bags and the owner apprised that these shopping bags are in compliance with environmental standards and are bio-degradable. We appreciated his vision and care for the environment and his unique idea of home-pick and delivery of tailor-services.
Though there is a vast scope of e-commerce in Pakistan, it remains an untapped resource. According to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), there are 162 million mobile and 71 million 3G/4G subscribers in Pakistan. Despite these staggering figures, e-commerce remains an unexploited market. There are many reasons for this underutilisation, such as lack of awareness amongst the masses, trust-deficit between the customers and owners of e-commerce brands, government’s disregard to promoting it, apart from others.
Notwithstanding these issues, it is incumbent on the government to promote and encourage entrepreneurs like Mr Javed for many reasons. Firstly, it helps in facilitating the people to get their desired goods or services at their home without much trouble. Secondly, with the help of e-purchases, people may find the products at the competitive prices. Thirdly, it can also be a source of employment generation as a large number of people can be adjusted in this field. Fourthly, exportable products can fetch dollars for the cash-starved national kitty. Lastly, it boosts economic activity which needs the country most.
It is high time that the government promotes e-commerce for the benefit of the citizens, entrepreneurs and boosting the crippling economy. The government should make necessary efforts for ensuring that the buyers are provided with the best quality of goods and services. For this purpose, legislation can be introduced that in case a customer finds quality of the product as substandard then the seller will be made liable to refund the principal accrued amount. Bridging the trust gap between the buyers and sellers would be another such step in the right direction. Above all, it is state’s responsibility to provide the opportunities to the citizen’s for tapping the emerging e-commerce market and utilise it to the optimum level in the globalised world.
The writer is a development sector practitioner and can be reached at [email protected]