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E-Commerce, with its fast-track speed, is dominating markets especially during the Covid-19 crisis in developed and developing countries, including Afghanistan.
For the first time e-commerce was introduced in Afghanistan, particularly in the capital, Kabul, in 2016. Since then, it has been taking over the market quickly. This has made the competition stiffer for offline businesses. Therefore, to survive in the current competitive market, most of the physical shops have launched websites for online shopping, while many promote their goods and services to the target customers on social media, particularly Facebook.
Statistical data collected from some customers through online survey shows that, after the outbreak of Covid-19 in Afghanistan, people normally prefer online shopping primarily because it prevents them from going out. Online shopping also helps in slowing down the curve of this pandemic in the country.
According to some official reports web-based commerce in Afghanistan is thought to be thwarted due to the retrospective IT system, lack of secure online payment methods, as well as the built-in traditions of the Afghan people making them more familiar with offline shopping, nevertheless, Afghanistan Payment System (APS) is a national country-level payment funnel serving as an interface between customers, national and international payment folds.
On the other hand, reports show that during the spread of the pandemic, the usage of e-commerce has significantly increased. However, customers still doubt the quality of online shopped products and their main concern is the high price of the products in comparison to the pre-pandemic period. Books, food, sports tools and kitchen equipment are the most orders placed by the customers.
In order to know the customers’ satisfaction from the E-commerce services during Covid-19 in Kabul, We conducted an online survey between (March) and (April), 2020. The data was collected from 100 regular users of online shopping. For the ease of data collection, we used a random sampling technique.
Although, E-commerce is at a good pace in Afghanistan. still, interest of people in doing online shopping is somewhat prompted and they are complacent despite the lack of advanced technology, high rate illiteracy, low level of public awareness and most importantly the absence of E-banking and payment system are the key factors challenging the growth of E-commerce in the country.
The sample demonstrates the satisfaction level of customers towards E-commerce during the pandemic in Afghanistan. Given the speed of delivery of Online retailers, considered to be a significant parameter. as customers expressed their willingness for further use and recommending to peers, perhaps because of their positive experience with online shopping in terms of fast delivery services.
The inferences of the data, when analyzed, showcases a few significant factors driving the interest of the customers to go for online shopping; (1) Services provided by web-based retails, services in the sense delivery speed, and ease in usability, whereas customers claim they are not satisfied with the services related solely to the customer care (e.g. approach to the problems of the customers) (2) Timeliness is another important parameter that basis the interest of customers in online shopping, as described by customers the timesaving element as a significant force behind their satisfaction level, besides, (3) Price of the products and offers are yet other trigger encouraging customers towards E-commerce shopping.
Furthermore, customers are normally satisfied basically on the basis of the price of the products offered by the E-Commerce retails, speed of delivery, and timesaving parameters, especially in the time of the pandemic.
On the other hand, the experience of customers with online shopping in the whole is positive. Ease of usage of online shopping motivates customers to prefer buying goods using web-based engines. Typically, in the time of the pandemic large number of the customers online shopping once a week while few use it 2 to 3 times in a month. The numerical data infers that, despite all the challenges facing the Afghans during the pandemic, still the use of E-commerce in Afghanistan is in full swing considered to be switching a green signal for the Afghan online retailers in terms of making a profit by applying the innovative and dynamic business strategies and to turn the concepts into practice.
The online retail shops in Afghanistan are required to take into account further enhancement and development of the quality of the services (customer care) particularly during the outbreak of a pandemic or other contingency. Since the security condition in the country is not up to the mark to be counted on, therefore, online retailers should pay considerable attention towards the “timesaving” factor and “speed of delivery”, because customers nowadays are more likely to avoid social contact due to the pandemic and obscure security situation. The E-Commerce proprietors need to facilitate the E-Payment system through concerted actions with the Banks and other commercial institutions because online payment could avert the hurdles caused by other payment methods and make it more convenient for the customers to make a payment.