Over the past few days, the initial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in Pakistan has become apparent. The government is rushing to curb the spread of the virus and contain the economic fallout from the pandemic, businesses are struggling with the uncertainty and investors’ anxiety has wreaked havoc at the Pakistan Stock Exchange. Families have disconnected from their daily lives to practice social distancing in keeping with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation for the pandemic.
But where do ecommerce platforms stand?
Globally, countries have witnessed reduced visits to offline retail stores with consumers only venturing out if absolutely necessary. In countries like France, Italy or Spain, where strict quarantine has been enforced, locals are not able to leave their houses without official certificates and are turning toward e-commerce to meet their basic needs. In Pakistan, similar consumer behaviours toward online shopping have been observed for the past few days.
Daraz, the leading online marketplace in Pakistan, is doing everything to ensure that customers have safe access to basic commodities such as flour, lentils, soaps, sanitizers, sugar, tea, surface cleaners, hand washes and baby formula. The platform is also taking measures to ensure minimal instances of price hikes and has promised to take immediate and strict actions to prevent marketplace sellers from taking unfair advantage of the situation alongside making sure all sellers are provided with support to keep their businesses running during this time of crisis.
Ensuring the health and well-being of its entire community – delivery agents, customers, sellers and users around Pakistan – is the platform’s prime concern. All employees and delivery agents adhere to the strict protective measures recommended by the World Health Organization. Working from home has become the norm for most employees. At Daraz’ warehouses, hubs and offices, colleagues have been told to refrain from physical contact. The protocol is simple: maintain as much distance as possible from each other at all times and wash hands frequently and thoroughly. Furthermore, the temperature of all employees at the warehouse and all members of the logistics team is checked several times daily.
“It is our primary responsibility right now to ensure that our employees, delivery agents and customers remain safe. We anticipate an uptick in demand and have taken steps to ensure that we are equipped to serve the needs of our customers. At the same time, it is our social responsibility to help prevent the spread of the virus and therefore, the strictest standards of hygiene are being enforced at our facilities,” said Ahmed Tanveer, COO Daraz Pakistan.
DEX Heros – delivery agents – have been instructed to wear masks and gloves at all times. While there has been no scientific evidence that packages carry the virus according to the World Health Organization, DEX Heros have been instructed to take precautionary measures and disinfect the package at customer’s doorstep.
While the WHO has stated that there is no evidence that banknotes transmit the virus, Daraz is encouraging all customers to use digital payment options – such as bank cards and e-wallets – when shopping on the platform. With cashless transactions, Users are encouraged to make contactless reception of their orders where riders can put the parcel on the doorstep and the buyer picks it up at a distance.
As the country moves toward social distancing, e-commerce platforms have the responsibility of ensuring the safety of their customers, their logistics teams and their operations team. Strict precautions are the need of the hour to mitigate the spread of the virus.