The Covid triggers the e-commerce boom



Restrictions on physical travel during the strict lockdown amid the Covid-19 pandemic have dramatically boosted the growth of e-commerce and online payments in Pakistan.

Although it has inflicted severe human, financial and economic losses on countries around the world, the pandemic, on the other hand, has offered an opportunity for growth in certain sectors, including e-commerce, said the chief executive and CEO of foodpanda. Pakistan, Nauman Sikandar Mirza.

In fact, given the limitations of physical movement during the pandemic, e-commerce has proven to be a “savior” in ensuring that people can continue to live their lives, he said.

“We are seeing the adoption of technology increase day by day, with customers becoming more tech savvy and using digital platforms for increased convenience and efficient commerce – fast commerce (q-commerce) like it is commonly called, “he said. The use of e-commerce has freed up their time because instead of physically shopping, they could do it while sitting at home. “All people need is the availability of the right channel,” he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic helped accelerate the adoption of online banking across the world and Pakistan was no different, said Ghazanfar Azzam, CEO of Mobilink Microfinance Bank Limited (MMBL).

Transaction volumes grew over 30% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter a year earlier, he said.

The adoption of digital banking has revealed a new trend in consumer behavior that has shifted from trying to redeem in key categories like money transfer, bill payment, online shopping, and more. he stressed.

Customers had to keep coming back as most banking and e-commerce providers upgraded their digital channels to deliver better experiences.

Quick Look at Ecommerce

Before, being able to order online was a “wow factor” for many, but “now customers not only want variety and convenience, but also fast deliveries,” said the CEO of foodpanda.

Customer demand for faster deliveries was inevitable given the variety of services offered by digital businesses these days, he said. Traditionally, e-commerce deliveries have taken days, he said, adding that these days deliveries are made in just a few minutes via q-commerce.

Explaining q-commerce, he said that many global online marketplaces have multiple “dark stores” or micro-distribution centers, which look like hypermarkets but are not open to physical purchases.

And when the customer’s order arrived (via an online channel), employees at the dark store packed and shipped the items to the customer’s address, which usually took less time, he added.

So, e-commerce and much more – q-commerce – have transformed online shopping and brought it to a whole new level of convenience, Mirza said.

“The future prospects for this sector will be faster delivery within 24 hours of drugs or life-saving medicinal products,” he added.

A must for e-commerce

“Digitization is the future of the banking industry,” said the CEO of MMBL. For this reason, the industry has witnessed an increased emphasis on digitization for efficient service delivery, he said.

It has also prompted consumer offerings to shift from basic banking functionality to personalized banking service offerings through digital channels, he added.

In addition, enterprise solutions became crucial to serve the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) segments and rapid improvement of these was needed to easily meet banking needs, he said.

Wider adoption of digital channels would also help banks have more actionable data and analytics to deliver personalized experiences and products to individual users as well as business customers, Azzam said.

According to the CEO of foodpanda, the competition among e-commerce companies is increasing as more and more companies focus on this sector for growth given the many opportunities offered in the digital industry. Foreign and local business investors were also keen to invest in e-commerce companies in Pakistan, “because we are an emerging market with enormous potential for growth and prosperity,” he said.

With the convenience of location-based shopping, customers could order a single item or all of their monthly groceries with fast delivery, Mirza said.

Online payment systems were also focused on banking through digital channels, especially for low-income segments across the country, the MMBL CEO revealed.

“Over the years, we have seen many competitors realize the potential of digital banking and are currently facing competition from commercial and microfinance banks,” Azzam added.

Posted in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2021.

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