Small businesses use online platforms to sell products

E-commerce grows as retailers connect with buyers online amid lockdown

Usman Hanif May 09, 2020
KARACHI: Small businesses are adopting online platforms for selling their products as demand for essential and general goods is on the rise in Ramazan because consumers prepare for the Eid amid a nationwide lockdown to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Small businesses of various commodities had suffered in the past few weeks, however, various online platforms provided them an opportunity to keep their businesses alive in challenging times. These retailers of clothing, footwear, electronic goods, frozen food, etc are now using free platforms to connect with buyers.

With conventional businesses inaccessible, e-commerce is thriving across the world and it has also picked up pace in Pakistan, even though it is limited to just a few large cities.

Large clothing brands and retailers have been able to survive through their established e-commerce platforms such as websites and mobile apps that picked up sales orders since the government had allowed e-commerce with certain standard operating procedures (SOPs).

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Since shopping centres were closed, small retailers were looking for an alternative to reach their target market, which an online platform could provide easily where the sellers and buyers could arrange their logistics and supplies on their own.

"Online sales trend is increasing," remarked Karachi Electronics Dealers Association (KEDA) President Muhammad Rizwan Irfan. "Although walk-in customers were the majority of buyers in our markets, in these hard times online shopping is emerging as an alternative to physical trade."

"Old customers are also calling shopkeepers to buy what they want and the product is then delivered at their doorsteps," he said.

Sales of small and medium-sized traders have picked up pace gradually through various online platforms, especially in major cities. Retailers are now opting for online platforms that do not charge any registration fee or commission so that they can protect their profit margins.

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According to the online sale and purchase platform, OLX, a sharp increase in online shopping for garments and footwear for the upcoming Eid through OLX was observed amid the Covid-19.

"We are trying to do our part to offset the impact of disruption caused by Covid-19 on businesses that we consider our valued partners, and help accelerate Pakistan's transition from the traditional to a digital economy during the pandemic and beyond," said OLX Country Head of Sales Farhan Khan.

As the markets open from Saturday with some ease in restrictions, many of the shoppers will still not be comfortable with the idea of giving up social distancing. Therefore, online shopping is expected to gain further momentum.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2020.

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