During 2016’s Black Friday in Pakistan fond memories were made where e-commerce stores are concerned. Kaymu and Daraz exceeded Rs. 1-billion mark as in the same way Yayvo handled approximately 60,000 orders, whilst this year more can be achieved. Nonetheless, no e-commerce store has the ability to render adequate services to customers residing in the outskirts of metropolitan cities such as Karachi and Lahore. Not even mentioning the smaller cities, towns & villages where a significant portion of more than 44 million internet-based citizens are living and where the future growth trend lies. The e-commerce industry lacks the capacity for hand crafted items from the remote regions of Pakistan to reach online stores. E-commerce stores are rendering services to a niche market, whilst the arts and crafts of Pakistani artisans still remains an unexploited area. It is these unknown artisans who design craft for which Pakistan is famous worldwide, for example Peshawari Chappal, Multani Khussa, wooden pottery to mention some. Now the Pakistani government is planning to establish an e-commerce store where arts and crafts can be bought & sold. The USA (Universal Service Fund) is searching for capable parties to assist them in developing and managing such a store and have the skills to promote and support the handwork of Pakistani artisans and expanding the imprint countrywide.
The idea behind and functioning of an e-commerce store
As reported by MORE News, Nasheen Masud, a USF-spokesperson said that there is an immense gap for the cottage-industry at the value chain’s end. He stated that no initiative on the long-term exist to support craftwork throughout Pakistan and that there is no e-commerce stores such as Ten Thousand Villages and Etsy which can empower people to learn the skill of buying innovative artwork from artisans. He added that artisanal craft poses to be a marvellous opportunity for thousands of craftspeople and small entrepreneurs throughout Pakistan, especially in peri-urban and rural regions. He said that patterns, materials, techniques and styles are many times unique to tribes representing cultural affiliations passed down through generations, modernization, surviving migrations, disasters and conflicts. Supporting artisanal craft represents an opportunity for the preservation of culture, to create unity and reinforcing identity during trying times. Via this platform the USF is planning to capacitate the ecosystem regarding e-commerce for artisans via training, product development and building the capacity of artisans. He added that the USF contemplates the creation of an e-commerce established economic enablement initiative, which controls the budding work of small enterprise groups and producers. The e-commerce website can supply an opportunity for small businesses and artisans to learn and grow from exposure to regional and national markets. This e-commerce store would function as a government institution, which will contract a consortium or private firm to manage & maintain the outlet. The government will rely on its extensive network of Pakistan-Post as the mechanism of delivery, although they are considering involving established private companies too. Almost 20-million Pakistani artisans have no accessibility to digital markets. Empowering them with suitable technology tools will enhance the Pakistani e-commerce footprint. The platform’s payment gateway will include payment via cards, cash on delivery as well as other payment-API’s obtainable in Pakistan. The e-commerce store poses to be a rather ornate initiative. The question is will the government think as a commercial establishment to make it successful.