Besides, a lot of physical stores would find the incentive to launch online and explore home delivery, something that stores abroad have been doing since March 2020 to survive the pandemic. The garment industry, bookstores, and nursery shops, for example, have all seen the future of shopping: a hybrid user behaviour where some people (usually busy, working millennials) prefer saving time and shopping online, while others enjoy spending time physically visiting stores to browse at a leisurely pace and personally pick out items for assurance before making a buying decision.
If the government made accommodations for e-commerce to work smoothly during the lockdown, business would not have to take a sharp toll like now, and it looks like the restrictions will be extended until the latest surge is under control — going by the severity of the situation in hospitals.
E-commerce in US, UK, China and India have all taken off with an online shopping boom during lockdowns, and witnessed an unprecedented spike in orders and revenue. Despite a worrying increase in numbers of Covid cases and fear due to rising mortality rates, their governments have not restricted delivery to ‘essentials only’.
They allow businesses to get creative, focus on their website and app UX/UI improvements and offer prompt, professional home delivery services that cash in on people’s boredom of being stuck at home and desires in picking up new interests and upgrading their gadgets to suit remote work life. People are buying everything from board games to face masks, cake pans to dumbbells, Bluetooth speakers to juice blenders (with batteries as an add-on, of course) online.
There is no reason why Nepal cannot do the same. The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Ministry of Finance and related government agencies should delve deep into this unique opportunity for Nepal’s digital economy to register an exponential rise.
Clearly, Covid-19 is here to stay and needs utmost attention, but ignoring the economy, not empowering the online shopping industry, and letting business face the brunt of this dark period in time is not optimum action either.