THE decision by global e-commerce giant Amazon to add Pakistan to its sellers’ list is expected to unleash enormous business opportunities for the country’s small and medium manufacturers and entrepreneurs to market and directly sell their products globally. It is also a major breakthrough for the country’s growing e-commerce industry, as well as companies and professionals working in the digital space. Pakistan is the only South Asian state, which is not on the list of the 102 countries on the Amazon platform in spite of being the second biggest economy in the region. The new development will hopefully put Pakistan on the global e-commerce map, opening up a new era of business boom by connecting its entrepreneurs and goods with millions of consumers across the world. The best thing about the new development is that Amazon will now provide a new venue to individual sellers to ship their products in small parcels to consumers outside Pakistan. This will afford them a chance to work on and develop their own brands for better prices. Moreover, they will not have to worry about their payments as Amazon will directly transfer the money into their local accounts.

The advantages of being on Amazon can be gauged from the fact that in India, which is a small contributor to the e-commerce giant’s total global sales, some 100,000 sellers are exporting products worth more than $2bn a year. That shows the opportunities Amazon can provide to small Pakistani sellers, especially women and entrepreneurs, who have goods and products needed by consumers outside Pakistan but cannot afford to have a big export set-up. For instance, they have a large Pakistani diaspora scattered across the countries, especially in the Gulf, to cater to. The significance and use of online marketplaces such as Amazon has increased immensely since the outbreak of Covid-19. Pakistan’s e-commerce market itself has grown dramatically over the last one year and is estimated to have expanded by 35pc in the first quarter of the current fiscal to Rs96bn from Rs71bn a year ago. But there are several impediments to its expansion, the poor quality of goods being the main hurdle together with the absence of a mechanism to address product complaints. Amazon, like other international companies and brands, is a highly consumer-centric marketplace where customers’ reviews of a product are taken very seriously. Therefore, our entrepreneurs will have to be careful if they desire to benefit from the opportunity.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2021

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