While it is true that the lockdown to control the spread of Covid-19 has severely impacted Pakistan’s economy, it has put people out of jobs, businesses have closed down, and some industries have made zero sales in the last two months.
But every dark cloud has a silver lining. With the traditional offline sales closed, people have turned to the online mode of shopping. They’re buying things from websites, Facebook business pages, and sometimes Instagram account shops.
Ayesha Khan said, “I have shopped more than I usually would in a year. It is just so tempting to buying everything that comes in my view while I scroll down my Facebook feed.”
According to Google, the world’s largest search engine, people in Pakistan are increasingly searching for online marketing, online payments, and brand loyalty. Pakistanis finally realize how active online presence can be beneficial and how important it is to have one.
“Pakistan could create 78,000 job opportunities if they develop instant delivery and logistic services,” says Cheng Xizhong, a Chinese professor. Indeed the delivery service in Pakistan has been on a boom. Kulsoom Qamber, co-owner of Ride On, a Karachi based delivery service, said, “The workload has increased ten-fold because of that we had to do new hires on immediate basis.”
Many shop owners who had shops in some of the busiest areas in Karachi have turned to social media to make sales. If you are online at night, every second post on your Facebook feed would be a live video in which people are displaying their products, interacting with customers, and booking orders. Seeing the product on video attracts more customers.
People are also starting to see how online shops have no physical boundaries. Tariq Farooq, a cloth shop owner in Bahadurabad, Karachi, said I never thought that I could make sell cloth to people in Islamabad and Lahore while my shop is here. I will certainly continue to run my online store even after the pandemic is over.”
The manually driven economy of Pakistan has shaken up by the circumstances created by COVID-19. It has pushed people to explore the digital world. It has brought the small business owners and large industries on the same level. The one who advertises and gives the best customer service wins the race.
Numerous daily-wage workers have lost their jobs, but some have learned better ways to get jobs with the help of the younger generation.
“My Father is a woodworker who has to go to a carpenter shop daily and sit for 3-4 hours sometimes even a whole day waiting for a customer to come and give him some work. However, with everything closed, he couldn’t get any jobs. I asked him to give me a chance to help. I created a social media page with the name woodworks, posted it in groups, and ran some media ads. Now, he gets jobs without having to wait at the shop.” says Asma, an entrepreneur who found the perfect solution to a common problem.
E-commerce is rapidly growing in Pakistan, online shopping has become a dominant trend, and in the foreseeable future, it might develop further. If the logistics and the telecommunication companies reach out to the rural areas, a lot of things about the Pakistani economy could change.