Online shopping did not take off in Nepal for the longest time. It took the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns that restricted movement for the Nepalis to start buying goods over the Internet.
Many retailers also closed down physical shops following the Covid-19 crisis and limited their sales digitally via social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, which further promoted the culture of online payment in the urban centres.
The growth of e-commerce in Nepal is still hindered by the central bank’s regulation on cross border payments and lack of essential infrastructure but proliferation of digital wallets and bank card has increased the access of ordinary Nepalis to online shopping.
Daraz, a subsidiary of China’s Alibaba, has been trying to boost digital shopping with events like annual 11.11 sales that was launched in 2009 and in 2018 in Nepal, and has since become the largest online shopping extravaganza.
The pandemic iteration of the 11.11 shopping festival timed for Tihar last year was its most successful edition yet. Despite the Covid-19 induced economic crisis, over 520,000 consumers from 27 cities across Nepal bought products worth Rs20.5 million from 7,000 retailers in the just first hour of the sale, up from 60%the previous year.
The shopping event saw significantly higher numbers in online pre-payment via wallet and bank card taking up 45% of the total sales. Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who went online during the pandemic like Masala Beads, Juas, Mantra, Goldstar, Vans, and more generated 23% of the total sales.
“Sellers are at the heart of our strategy and we can only thrive together. The domestic economy has been hit hard due to the pandemic, therefore, it is fundamental for us to help bring the economy back on track,” says Lino Ahlering, managing director of Daraz Nepal.
He adds: “E-commerce and particularly Daraz as the leading marketplace in the country is growing extremely fast. 11.11 – the world’s biggest sale day is now only a few days away and is not only a unique opportunity for our customers across the country but also for our 12,000+ sellers to keep growing in these times.”
This year’s sale is expected to break more records with over 1.1 million items with heavy discounts on display and delivery services extended to 47 cities. More than 12,000 retailers with leading domestic and international brands are joining the bandwagon this Tihar. Daraz has also been supporting SMEs waiving off their marketplace fee for three months under the Sahayatri Campaign
“With Daraz’s mega campaigns driving sales for sellers, more consumers and brands are going online,” claims the company. “Brands and payment partners today are more aware of the impact of Daraz’s sale campaigns and ecommerce as a whole, thus, it isn’t uncommon to find many popular national and international brands promoting and offering lucrative deals on Daraz.”
Daraz says its over 12,000 retailers are now undergoing necessary preparations for smooth delivery of goods keeping up with the increased consumer demand ahead of the big sale day on 11 November. Currently, Daraz has around 15 delivery hubs located throughout the country from where customer’s products are shipped to and from.
Lack of proper road network connecting major cities and street addresses adds to the challenges in delivering goods and services. As such, the company also runs Daraz Express to deliver the goods, and has hired delivery riders familiar with a particular locality in any given part of the country.
Ever since its acquisition by Alibaba in 2018, Daraz’s key focus has been to build a countrywide logistic infrastructure which it hopes will allow the company to increase its footprint but would also aid in creating a better ecommerce ecosystem in the country, according to the company.
Says Daraz Nepal: “The company expects their biggest one day sale will enable further growth for sellers, and also help further develop an ecommerce ecosystem where logistic companies, payment partners, and everyone involved benefit greatly.”