E-commerce picks up, as Covid-19 discourage outing

Choki Wangmo

You name it— foods, clothes, books, drink and online fitness classes—global Covid-19 pandemic has created a massive demand for e-commerce and online shopping platforms in recent months within the country.

With health advisories encouraging physical distancing, consumer behaviour has been forced to change, people is changing the online world through what they are buying, when, and how.  Segments across e-commerce are helping ease peoples’ anxieties by bringing solutions both virtually as well as to the doorstep.

Since the first confirmed case in Bhutan, a vegetable and fruit delivery enterprise in Thimphu, Bhutan Smart Shop has seen an increasing trend in the number of online orders. The founder, Sangay Nedup, said that every day, the shop gets a minimum of 30 orders compared to 4-5 orders in the past.

Customers can place their orders through Bhutan Smart Shop’s website, text messages, phone calls or social media platforms.

Sangay Nedup said that in a worst case scenario such as a national lockdown, the shop is prepared to supply fruits and vegetables within Thimphu.

However, he is concerned about the safety of his team on delivery. “We are seeking safety training opportunities from authorities as we only have sand sanitisers, gloves and face masks.”

Happy Delivery Service (HDS), a delivery service within Thimphu and Paro quarantine centres started towards the end of March is seeing a ten-fold increase in orders.

The founder of HDS, Jigme Singye, said his service is not confined to foods, but like a one-stop shop and deliver whatever clients’ order.

Dish8Door, an app-based food delivery service within Thimphu has 38 restaurants listed with them. The founder, Ngawang Tobgay, said he is exploring delivery in the quarantine centres too. Delivery charges are fixed and based on location.

While the number of walk-in sales has decreased in One Click Shop, online orders have increased as people are cautious, said the founder Zigyal Tshering. “Bulk orders are common nowadays as people are stocking up essentials fearing a complete lockdown.”

The shop offers door to door home delivery of groceries, vegetables, cosmetics, meat items and household items.  With a minimum of 25 orders a day, business has picked for the shop. The shop at one time received 60 orders in a day.

As of yesterday, 27 business entities have listed with Yellow Bhutan on social media platform, Instagram.  The initiative encouraged physical distancing through delivery of essentials, exercise, education, and entertainment to people.

The services registered were in education, food deliveries, books, groceries, electronics, and virtual exercise classes and resources among others.

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