When China’s Alibaba did close the 11/11 online shopping festival with $17.79 Billion in gross merchandise value in November 2016, online shopping was newly emerging in Afghanistan.

The e-commerce business in Afghanistan has changed a lot of things and triggered the market for massive growth for some businesses and disadvantages for others. Before online shopping was commonplace in Afghanistan for consumers to go shopping, there were few ways to know the pros and cons of a product. Consumers could rely on word-of-mouth of someone they knew who have purchased the same product or wait on to what media says about it. Retailers were relatively safe from poor review unless it caught attention en masse. Today people in Afghanistan shop with full information and knowledge of the pros and cons of the product, and it is all because of those who contributed to the new expanse called e-commerce.

Now consumers review can break or make a product or a retailer, those who buy products from a retailer and put on reviews on its website or social media pages, and pass on their experience of buying that product to others online on the internet, contributes a considerable growth for retailers who are getting positive review and a significant disadvantage for those others with negative review and comments. In fact, a whopping majority of people trust online reviews as much as they would trust friends or family members.

With the new expanse called e-commerce now there are no holidays or off days for shopping, you can go shopping with your fingers anytime you are supposed to. E-commerce platforms in Afghanistan have made it possible for shops to keep their doors open 24/7 to showcase their products. Thus it is contributing a significant jump in sales for local sellers.

With a huge tech illiteracy rate of people in Afghanistan, online shopping services cannot be utilized too much by consumers effectively through automatic order placements on e-commerce websites and mobile apps. According to the data from country-based ventures in e-commerce, 80% of orders are placed through Facebook Messengers, WhatsApp, and phone calls.

Where Afghans used to go to town and regional shopping centers, The wide-spread of smart devices has made them able to surf the internet and shop online. Books, electronics, clothes, home appliances, and kitchen appliances are the main categories Afghans could now shop for over the internet without ever leaving their homes.

Online shopping platforms in Afghanistan offers an immense choice of categories and products, Local Dokans (Shops) with brick-and-mortar premises are limited in the number of commodities they show or keep in their inventories. The e-commerce platforms have no such kind of limitation; they simply have to show pictures and offer a description of the entire product range and making things much better and smoother for consumers.

E-commerce platforms won’t ever eliminate its brick-and-mortar counterpart. There are still product categories where people prefer to go into a shop and select the item. Still, online shopping will increase its presence and will somehow control the majority of market segments in the next 10 to 15 years.

Due to the poor infrastructure of e-commerce in Afghanistan, its growth will significantly be slower in comparison to other neighboring countries. E-commerce ventures in the country are still struggling and confronting challenges in locating customers’ addresses, receiving online payments, security issues, capital investment, and internet connections, which have significantly affected their growth.

According to data received from 10s of ventures actively making progress in Afghanistan, online shopping’s 99% payments are in cash on arrival of the demanded product. Eventually, it creates security issues for deal closers or delivery agents, where a delivery agent is supposed to deliver a product and return safely, it sounds like a simple task but not in Afghanistan when the delivery agent arrives even on a busy street in Kabul; the so-called customer will appear along with his companions and would threaten the delivery agent and warn him to hand over his products, cash-in-hand, smartphone, and motorcycle softly if delivery agent resist they would pull knives and stab him.

Despite all of these consequences and circumstances, e-Commerce ventures with a committed vision and dedication are strongly determined to collaborate and cooperate effectively by innovative and pioneering approaches to empowering e-Commerce in Afghanistan.

Author

  • Masiullah Stanikzai is the CEO and Founder at Click.af an online shopping platform in Afghanistan. Click.af is a startup based-in Afghanistan in the eCommerce market and was founded in December 2016, and yet delivered over 100,000 orders across Afghanistan.