Global online shopping and e-commerce industry has been expanding to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic through physical shopping centers and bazaars. However, it has recorded a reverse trend in Pakistan with restricted services in major cities, compelling a section of the public to walk out from home for purchasing essential commodities and goods.
In many countries such as China and UAE, the concept of contactless deliveries emerged rapidly as the public prefers shopping for grocery and essential items online to maintain social distancing.
In Pakistan, stores with online services and e-commerce companies are getting increasing orders of various essential commodities but they are unable to meet the orders due to the prevailing lockdown in different parts of the country, mainly Karachi, which has also suspended logistic and courier services.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Pakistan, online orders received through mobile apps spiked sharply with a 70% increase per week in Lahore and Karachi, which reflected a major change in shopper preferences whereby a large number of customers preferred to use such a service to avoid the risk of stepping out of their homes, said Jean-Marc Dumont, Country Manager of Carrefour Pakistan at Majid Al Futtaim Retail.
We offer more than 5,000 products offered through the Carrefour delivery app that enabled buyers to do extensive shopping while sitting at home. On the other hand, our delivery team considers all precautions while delivering online orders such as wearing face masks, disposable gloves, disinfecting their clothes and vehicles after every order delivery, to protect themselves and the customers from spreading this virus.
Unlike other cities, Karachi witnesses a tough situation for the citizens due to its huge population. As food stocks are dwindling and the salaried-class is getting salaries in their bank accounts, a fresh demand for goods and commodities has emerged.
Recently, the local administration sealed off two outlets of a mega-store due to massive crowds. Ultimately, the management has put strict conditions on buyers including token system, limited time for shopping, and waiting time in queues, however, maintaining social distance at these stores is next to impossible keeping in view the spike in demand.
Adding fuel to fire, the lockdown has become even more strict with no shops and grocery stores open after 5 pm. Hence, the prevailing situation is not conducive for social distancing when the general public has limited hours of shopping and their stocks of groceries and essential items are running out.
Pakistan Software Houses for IT and ITES (P@SHA) came up with a proposal for the government recommending the restoration of logistic and courier service in Karachi, which will not only provide an alternate solution to the public but help the government and public maintain the social distance to contain the risk of Coronavirus transmission from an individual to another.
It demanded the government to allow e-commerce services and courier companies, including warehouses and essential staff to work all across Pakistan during the lockdown.
The government should urgently notify all relevant law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and other federal and provincial authorities to allow e-commerce deliveries by third-party logistic companies.
The association devised an SOP on the safety and hygienic measures for the workers of stakeholders including shopping centers, e-commerce companies, and logistics companies. It assured that online shopping service providers including logistics staff will adopt high standard hygienic measures at every stage to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
The public suffers, being unable to buy essential goods items including grocery items, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, cooked food, books & stationary, IT and computers, electronics, mobile phones, etc. Even charity work for deserving people is facing issues in the given situation due to unavailable shopping options.
A convenient e-commerce delivery system ensuring a safe and hygienic supply of food products and basic items of daily use at the customer’s doorstep is the ideal solution during this crisis, helping reduce all forms of non-essential travel and averting public panic or outcry.
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