Boosting online marketThe sluggishness with which the e-commerce industry is growing is unexplainable.
If there is one economic sector that has benefitted from an unexpected windfall in the coronavirus age, it is the e-commerce industry. As traditional forms of trade and economy took a hit due to the stay-at-home orders and restrictions that hit most parts of the world, e-commerce took centre stage. From the delivery of grocery and food items to medicine, clothes and furniture, consumers across the world have come to depend heavily on online sellers. Not only have e-commerce platforms changed the way people shop, they have also created new avenues of employment for a growing population, especially the youth. There is much money to be made if the internet is put to good use. And e-commerce is one of the major ways of doing it.
Nepal, though, seems to be missing in the scene as per the Connectivity in the Least Developed Countries Status Report 2021. The report states lack of awareness among consumers to be the reason why the e-commerce industry has failed to boom despite growing internet penetration. Nepalis are using the internet on an unprecedented scale, but they are missing the biggest opportunity created by the mix of internet and commerce—e-commerce. The report has stated that the least developed countries are generally found to be experiencing poor performance in the e-commerce industry, but there is always scope for change.
For a country that has a formidable youth population with widespread access to the internet, the sluggishness with which the e-commerce industry is growing is unexplainable. For that, the government should facilitate the training of youth with the skills required to enter the e-commerce industry. It may be that the young generation is busy scrolling the pages of, and creating content for, social media rather than using the internet for economic gain. It is the government’s duty to train the new generation to compete in the changing global economic environment, for it is increasingly becoming clearer that the future of the economy and trade is to be based on the internet in the coming days.
As per a report, India’s e-commerce industry is expected to grow by a staggering 84 percent to $111 billion by 2024. Apart from attracting international e-commerce giants such as Amazon.com, India has in the past decade and a half witnessed the proliferation of home-grown sites such as Flipkart.com and Snapdeal.com. China, too, has seen staggering growth in the e-commerce sector, with platforms such as Alibaba.com ruling the global market. Nestled between the two economic giants that are experimenting, pretty successfully, with an internet-based economy, Nepal cannot remain clueless for long.
It is not that Nepali consumers and merchants are totally unaware of the e-commerce economy. For the past decade or so, home-grown online stores have been trying to get a foothold in the Nepali consumer market. A few merchants have even attempted, with limited success, to expand the reach of Nepali consumers to the global e-commerce market by tying up with international brands. However, consumers lack confidence in e-commerce sites since they often face multiple issues ranging from difficulty in payment, chances of products turning out to be other than what ordered, and a complicated return policy that leaves them regretting why they chose to buy online in the first place. But these issues can be sorted out easily if there is a symbiotic relationship between the government, the traders and the consumers. The idea is to solve technical problems, build trust and work together towards reaping the benefits of new opportunities created by the internet.