Some argue that E-Commerce or Online Shopping has just recently come to existence. However, the fact is Online Shopping has been around for almost 29 years. Compuserve built the very first E-Commerce store in 1984. In 1985, Nissan introduced its Online Store to allow dealers and consumers to buy cars online. The Ecommerce industry saw a significant change in 1995, when eBay was found by Pierre Omidyar as an auction website. eBay still appears to be one of the biggest marketplaces in the world. The advent of eBay and Amazon took the online world by a storm and tons of companies have now emerged on the surface to sell their stuff online and rake in immense profits that this market has to offer.
In addition to being extremely profitable for business owners, online shopping has been a dream come true for majority of consumers around the globe. As of 2012, the most love-able activity for people to do around the world on Internet is to Shop Online. Since they can purchase goods whenever they want, sitting in front of a TV clad in their pajamas and shirts. As far as Sellers are considered, almost anyone can sell anything online and with a simple website, which offers a great ROI. In USA, it is speculated that consumers in buying stuff online will spend almost 167 million dollars in 2012.
Even though online shopping and E-commerce has gained extraordinary popularity in many countries, we have still not seen the best this industry has to offer in Pakistan. People here still believe that going to the market and bargain for every penny is the way to get the best deal possible. For me, this has something to do with our overall mind set and society behavior, we have been accustomed of seeing dishonest shopkeepers in Pakistan and we are used to of hearing lies coming out of the mouth of the sellers in the market. Thus, even though we now have ultra fast Internet speed at cheap rates (thanks to a great competition in the market), people are hesitant of shopping online. As they do not believe, they will be getting exactly what they are ordering.
Most of the Ecommerce websites that have been launched in Pakistan in last 4-5 years have been of low quality and with response rate of 3-4 days. I have been a big fan of online shopping and whenever I have to order something for my family in Pakistan, I have to deal with an unresponsive and unprofessional customer support of these websites, which tells me clearly that neither the consumers nor the eCommerce business owners are taking this industry seriously. I am working for a huge online shopping website in UAE, and I know the immense potential this market has to offer, but I believe it will take quite some time for consumers to understand the comfort online shopping can provide them and for business owners to understand the true potential of E-commerce.
Another major reason for the lack of e-commerce business in Pakistan is that not many people use Credit Cards in Pakistan. I got my first credit card when I was 21, but I believe I was lucky enough to make decent income to convince the bank to provide me with the credit card. However, not many people can get a card easily from banks in Pakistan, which make them stay away from online shopping anyways. Another popular method used for payment around the globe is “Payment on Delivery”, which has recently gained some popularity, but there is a long way to go before consumers and sellers can start trusting each other.
We, the people with decent internet knowledge know how Amazon, eBay, Alibaba and other websites are making life and business easy for millions of people around the world. Therefore we know a little about this market`s potential, but a normal person who sees an online shopping ad on Facebook will have very tough time in trusting a website that they know nothing about. In addition, for entrepreneur, this situation seems quite dodgy; they do not want to invest their time and money in something that is not guaranteed to return the profits in near future.
I hope and pray that we can have the Online Shopping culture rolling in Pakistan to allow not only the Pakistan residents but people living abroad to order stuff for their families easily and without hassle. Especially when the Law and Order situation in Pakistan is not up to the mark, it will bring great peace of mind for the consumers if they can buy stuff online with few clicks.
But, I guess we still have to wait more…