E-commerce potential still untapped in Pakistan: Experts

ISLAMABAD, Dec 17 (INP-WealthPk): E-commerce potential is still untapped in Pakistan,  experts said here on Friday.
E-commerce has grown exponentially around the globe in the last few years, opening up new avenues of economic development and job creation. It is considered to be the main element of employment generation for the youth.

E-commerce is all attached to the Internet, where customers can easily access an online store, place orders and transfer funds or data using different channels like business to business (B2B), business to consumer (B2C), consumer to consumer (C2C), and consumer to business (C2B).

Pakistan is the sixth largest populous country in the world struggling for quite a long time to strengthen its economy and make savvy plans to achieve wide commercialization. The emerging IT sector and growing use of the Internet have upheld this mission.

Pakistan is considered to be the 46th largest e-commerce market generating a revenue of $4 billion in 2020. With an increase of 90 percent, the Pakistani market contributed to the worldwide growth rate of 29% in 2020.

According to the e-commerce Report 2021 of Ministry of Commerce, this industry is growing consistently. It was worth Rs99.3 billion in 2018 compared with Rs51.8 billion in 2017.

Ministry of Commerce reported in 2021 that the e-commerce market size had shown an upward trend of about 35 percent in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021 that’s Rs96 billion compared with Rs71 billion in the corresponding period last year.
The revenue is projected to reach $5,907 million in 2021. Furthermore, the revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CGAR2021-2025) of 7.55% resulting in projected market volume of $7,903 million by 2025.

This trend continues to increase and it is considered to be one of the largest unrealized and untapped market potentials because new markets are emerging, and existing markets have potential for further development.

Pakistan as a developing country is making strides in e-commerce, as an increasing number of people are using the internet buying and selling goods and services, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pakistan’s exposure to the pandemic brought a huge change in customer behaviour enhancing e-commerce. Sales categories such as groceries, pharmaceuticals, fashion industry, electronic equipment, furniture and appliances restaurant deliveries as well as financial services faced a positive gain and generated revenue during the pandemic as has been shown in the following table.

According to the digital market outlook by Statista, fashion is the largest contribution in Pakistan and its share is almost 68% of revenue generation with electronics and media 13%, food and personal care 10%, toys and DIY 5% and furniture and appliances 4%.

Pakistan is now a country where many people are trading in clothing, homemade food items, selling kitchen items and many other things online. They have created their own websites and social media accounts where they easily sell and purchase items and successfully achieve their goals.

Some of the best online marketplaces are Daraz.pk, Zameen.com, Aliexpress.com, ishopping.com, Airlift Express and many more, although they are not up to the international standard.

e-commerce has yet to see a boom in Pakistan, as the world famous online business marketplace ‘Amazon’ has added Pakistan to its seller list, creating a huge opportunity for exporters to sell their products. Amazon makes annual sales of $300-400 billion. China and India are major users of this platform for selling their goods.

Alibaba is the most popular destination for online shopping and it is the world largest growing e-commerce market surpassing eBay and Amazon.com.

In a developing country like Pakistan, where the majority of exchanges and transactions are directed in cash except those involving large sums of money requiring bank drafts or pay orders, e-commerce faces a host of challenges such as payment methods, taxes on information and communications technology items, absence of guidelines about online payments, lack of trust, slow or less adaptation of mobile and online payments, online payment frauds, unavailability of credit cards to a large portion of population, poor quality of electricity infrastructure and unauthentic websites.

Web-based business packs a huge potential and there is an urgent need to address the above-mentioned serious challenges giving more space to this mode of trade to grow and expand.