The way forward for small businesses in Pakistan
The second wave of COVID-19 has already hit many parts of Europe and US while in other countries like India, the first wave still hasn’t ended yet. Should Pakistanis be afraid of a possible second wave of the virus?
Well, definitely. Keeping in mind the fact that lockdowns have been lifted, educational institutions opened, social gatherings allowed, and most importantly the SOPs not being followed, the second wave of coronavirus is almost inevitable.
What would another lockdown mean?
Well, the first lockdown was lifted way before the number of daily cases started declining in Pakistan. The country’s economy was collapsing and daily wage workers were severely impacted. Small businesses and shopkeepers protested. How long could they sit at home and use up their savings? Everyone would argue on letting people either die of hunger or due to the virus. Therefore, it won’t be wrong to claim that the lockdown was primarily lifted to let the economy run and to let labourers earn.
Now if the second wave hits Pakistan, we should be ready to face somewhat similar scenes. The business community really needs to think outside the box. What can they do during a lockdown after all? The first thing which pops up in mind would be e-commerce. It basically is a more formal name for online shopping; buying and selling goods over the internet.
Problems with e-commerce in Pakistan?
Developing countries like Pakistan hardly encourage e-commerce. This is primarily because not everyone has access to the internet and secondly because people here do not trust online shopping. Remember the recent video of three children unboxing a drone they ordered from a very well renowned online store? Yes, the package had plastic bags instead of a drone.
Apart from scams many are dubious about the quality of products they buy online, especially garments. Same is the case with groceries. There is no satisfaction until one assesses the freshness of the produce before paying for it. This is sadly not possible in the case of shopping online. To overcome the grievances of customers, online businesses need to do something more creative and be flexible; something which assures customer satisfaction above everything else. This is the only way to survive through another lockdown, if it happens.
To cut it short, we should firstly try our best to follow the SOPs so that the second wave of the virus can be avoided because even if you’re strong enough to fight it, your parents or grandparents might not be. Secondly, countries like Pakistan need to make online shopping a new normal, even after the pandemic ends. E-commerce is being practiced almost all around the globe without any fear of compromise of quality. Authorities need to make sure vendors provide customers with the exact product they describe. It won’t take long building the trust of the customers and once it happens, who would not want to buy everything from the comfort of their homes without having to run around in markets!
Stay safe and happy shopping!