Meher Azeem Hakro
outbreak of the coronavirus has caused a great deal of trouble in Pakistan's economic and agriculture sectors. An important sector that provided many opportunities during Covid-19 pandemic was Electronic-Commerce (E-commerce) or online shopping or trading. During Covid-19, consumers turned to online shopping to avoid crowds, especially in developed countries. Prior to the coronavirus, online shopping was previously limited to most developed countries. Now, this trend has started in developing and less developing countries as well, creating huge employment opportunities for poor countries as well. Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in e- commerce business. E-commerce activity of buying and selling products and services using the Internet or cellular phones, fax machines or other electronic devices is called e- commerce. An important feature of online trading is that an investor can buy or sell through the internet or cellular phone sitting in his office or home. E-commerce was first introduced on a small scale in Pakistan in 2001. At that time, there were PayPal payment services in Pakistan, but after a short time, PayPal stopped working in Pakistan, which caused many problems to the online business community. PayPal was an online financial service that allowed paying for products using a secure internet account. However, e-commerce business companies and merchants had to rely on cash on delivery, and bank payment methods, the business community faced innumerable difficulties. There are numerous e-commerce companies in Pakistan that deal with everything from clothing to selling and buying cars online and also leading real estate e- commerce companies for buying, selling and renting houses in Pakistan. Recently, the Deputy Commissioner, Islamabad has introduced an app called Durust Daam from which anyone can order vegetables and fruits from home. These vegetables and fruits are available at notified market prices. Thousands of people were taking advantage of the app by placing orders during the coronavirus pandemic. There are many other apps available that can be ordered online for vegetables and fruits. Due to some fake companies, e-commerce has eroded people's confidence in ordering online. Some companies displayed the products on a website but provided some inferior products, which eroded consumer confidence. Consumers faced many difficulties when they wanted to return defective products. Due to the lack of interest of e-commerce companies in solving consumer problems, e-commerce business began to decline in Pakistan. This is also because the Consumer Protection Act has not fully been implemented in practice by the government. If the government convinces consumers that a company supplying substandard products can be fined and consumers will be given full protection. In this way, user confidence can be restored. After the coronavirus spread, when people were confined to their homes due to lockdowns, they preferred to order products online because their daily necessities stores were closed. With the emergence of this activity, e-commerce business in Pakistan also saw an increase. Pakistan's e-commerce industry can grow rapidly and create more jobs and collect more taxes and revenue. It has the potential to integrate remote areas into the national mainstream, develop small and medium-sized enterprises, and ultimately stabilize the country's economy by increasing exports through online trade. Pakistan is already far behind regional countries like Bangladesh, India and Nepal in e-commerce, ranking 120 th in the world. E-commerce is one of the most important drivers of a digital Pakistan. Therefore, the government should work on the development of an e-commerce policy framework to regulate and further develop the market in Pakistan. The government should also provide payment services in the country or find way of payment so that e-commerce merchants can easily take their payments from abroad. -The writer is freelance columnist based Islamabad.