E-commerce service providers are perhaps the only lot who are thankful to the pandemic. They say Covid-19 has given a renewed push to their business as consumers switch to purchasing more goods online than visiting stores in person.
A wide range of goods and services, including electronic appliances, groceries and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) can be ordered online. Some of the popular service providers are One Click Shop, Gawa Shop, Sherza Allstore, Zala, and Azha Pasa, among others.
A representative from Sherza Allstore said that the company delivered goods worth Nu 1.8 million (M) during the lockdown. “Our monthly sales from online orders during the pandemic reached about Nu 200,000,” she said.
She said that consumers preferred ordering goods online amid panic buying which boosted e-commerce.
An employee of Gawa Shop said that its monthly orders jumped to 100 from a little more than a dozen before the pandemic. Established in 2017, Gawa Shop delivers Made in Bhutan products and products from international service providers, including Amazon.
Gawa Shop also used to deliver groceries. An employee with Gawa Shop said that they faced staff shortages as orders from grocery increased during the pandemic.
Zala’s sales manager, Karma Tenzin, said that it was important to improve and maintain the quality of the services to boost e-commerce in the country. “If people like our services, they will buy again.”
The co-founder of One Click Shop, Deepak Upreti, said it was still a challenge to convince people to switch to e-commerce. “The traditional Bhutanese way of shopping still dominates the market.”
He said though One Click Shop provided goods at low rates and that delivery services were free. However, he added that most people were not confident to order goods online.
“During the lockdown, we received about 800 orders every day but it dropped to about 100 as the market reopened,” Deepak Upreti said.
Established in 2019, Azha Pasa sells a wide range of products, most popular of which are cosmetics, home appliances, and mobile phones. They also deliver LPGs within Thimphu thromde.
Azha Pasa’s general manager, Tandin Tshering, said that the company delivered about 35 to 40 LPG cylinders daily. For LPG, Azha Pasa charges Nu 100 delivery charge. They also deliver other products to dzongkhags.
Tandin Tshering said that e-commerce was slowly picking up and that he was hopeful it would be successful. “We started with between 10 and 15 orders a day.”
One of the customers said it was convenient to buy groceries online. “Their services are good.”
Another Thimphu resident, Pema Gyeltshen, says that people need not pay parking fees.
Karma Wangmo, a Thimphu-based businesswoman, said she always ordered LPG online. “I don’t mind paying delivery charges as it is more economical.”
She said she was not disappointed having ordered goods and services online. “But I can’t buy vegetables and fruits online.”
However, some residents in Thimphu said they enjoyed going to the market to shop on weekends with family.