In the online world, e-commerce is basically a trade. It includes online sales, orders, information and flow of money, business transactions and transactions, etc. In short, under the umbrella of e-commerce is all the economic activity that is catered and driven through the internet. Today’s e-commerce covers the entire business world. E-commerce uses include online banking, business transactions, purchasing and selling services, electronic data exchange, e-commerce data collection (B2B), Business to consumer e-commerce (B2C), digital wallet, supply chain and logistics document automation, electronic tickets, management of business content, internet security, online auction, online office suites, social networking.
Sources urged that Pakistan’s continued e-commerce growth would have a catalytic effect in empowering the digitally-savvy youth, encouraging women entrepreneurship, creating additional career opportunities in the market and increasing the prospects of Pakistan’s SME sector. The approval of the first-ever e-commerce policy framework is therefore an important step towards realizing Pakistan’s digital commerce ambitions and, in turn, driving economic growth in Pakistan. Statistics showed that during FY2018 the country’s e-commerce industry has been predicted to be at Rs 99.3 billion which rose from Rs 51.8 billion in FY2017, with YoY growth of 92 percent. With a population of about 208 million and various financial inclusion solutions in terms of branchless banking, the country offers one of the largest untapped markets in globally for e-commerce.
Source also recorded that the Government of Pakistan formally invited China to invest in Pakistan’s digital businesses counting manufacturing of mobile phone handsets and other digital equipments for promotion and growth of the sector. It is also significant to note that the country is fast-growing telecom market with subscribers of mobile phones having crossed the 161 million mark as against with Pakistan’s population. Of total subscribers, around 70 million use 3G/4G. There are 71 million broadband subscribers.
The government has dropped the Telephone Industry of Pakistan (TIP) from the privatization list and is mulling to establish mobile phone handsets plant in collaboration with private sector for its revival. Although e-commerce has still not reached a level where electronic money is predominantly used in place of cash for such transactions. Hence, there is still a lot of room for growth. It is said that the pace at which e-commerce market and awareness are increasing time is near when the country will become one of the leading states in the domestic and foreign e-commerce market. E-commerce may prove to be a very strong weapon against unemployment for the country. The Government of Pakistan can raise its GDP by $36 billion and create 4 million employment opportunities by 2025 only by growing the use of digital financial services. E-commerce makes the supply chain process easier and much effective. E-commerce directly affects three flows of a supply chain like physical flow, financial flow and information flow. Physical flow is affected by how the products may be purchased and sold globally and countrywide without having to travel in person from one place to another. E-commerce affects the financial flow by making money transactions more simple, secure and fast. Also, the technology is in charge between the two parties to keep a ledger of all the transactions and to ensure safe dealing. Information flow has been the most affected part of the supply chain so far.
According to various estimates, the online portals like Daraz.pk could alone create 1 million, direct and indirect employment opportunities by 2022. Hence, e-commerce can be viewed as the greatest investment opportunity by the Prime Minister of Pakistan to fulfill his words of offering 10 million employment opportunities for Pakistan’s youth. The experts recorded that with e-commerce, Pakistani businesses can enlarge their market more and enter the untapped markets where demand of their products is high e-commerce creates unlimited options for consumers e-commerce is a platform to compare prices, judge items through their reviews before purchasing also, a wide variety of brands and products are all at one place to choose from. This means that they have greater control over what they purchase.
In February 2019, Pakistan Post E-Shop initiative was launched to capitalize on the rapidly growing e-commerce sector. Pakistan Post has created its own web portal for registering partners by launching the Pakistan Post Online E-Shop, which provides partnerships for delivery, collection and return services, counter-booking and co-branding in the sale of products. To date, Pakistan Post has registered 580 partners and booked and delivered more than 21,000 packages. It is also said that enhanced internet accessibility and effective government attempts to promote financial inclusion in most parts of Pakistan have helped the country’s e-commerce sector see significant growth.
To capitalize on the country’s massive e-commerce potential, experts believe the following sections be prioritized.
- Expanding access to digital payment channels, particularly among key sectors like government and SMEs.
- Educating both merchants and consumers on the benefits of e-commerce.
- Fostering public and private sector partnerships to drive investment into the ecosystem.
- Building consumer trust and encouraging adoption of digital payments and pre-payment across merchants.
- Adopting best practices that protect and safeguard consumer interests, while delivering frictionless, secure, and online shopping experiences for them.