The Future of E-commerce in Afghanistan in 2022 – Afghanistan’s e-commerce sector had established itself as the future way to address consumer demands in a vulnerable country even before COVID-19. Many customers have re-evaluated their spending and purchasing choices as a result of financial restrictions and social shifts. However, as Masiullah Stanikzai, the founder of Click.af, points out, the key to e-commerce success in Afghanistan would require a national effort.
Goharshad Online Store began building their dream of becoming Afghanistan’s equivalent of Amazon in 2012, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in tow. Their ambition came to a halt two years later, and they became a renowned example of how “not” to enter Afghanistan’s e-commerce business. However, Goharshad Online Store was not the first to enter this market; several small businesses with little resources were also competing. The Click.af e-commerce platform was one of them, and it was able to not only survive but also restore customers’ and investors’ faith in Afghanistan’s e-commerce sector.
Challenges Causing Failure
Future of E-commerce in Afghanistan – Even while the initial generation of e-commerce platforms, such as Goharshad, were well received by customers, one of the key reasons for their demise was their failure to fulfill the special demands of Afghan customers.
The platform owners had received a message in the first few months of business: the number of sales was rather large, leaving them with a few critical alternatives in how to proceed. They increased the pricing of their items while separating themselves from their clients, interpreting it as a sign of tremendous demand. The dissension did not succeed due to a lack of information on clients and their shopping habits. After observing the price increase, several other online businesses followed suit.
The “sales boom” that occurred during the first few months of Goharshad’s launch was due to the brand’s perception of luxury. Many Afghans wanted to experience what many other surrounding and industrialized countries have: the ability to buy something online and have it delivered to their doorstep. However, when they received their order, they discovered that they had been overcharged compared to what they would have paid at a physical store for the same item. Since then, many Afghans’ views on e-commerce have been split down the middle.
Revival & Culture Building
Customers’ faith in the first generation of online shops was severely shaken. Anyone who had purchased something from an internet retailer was advising others to avoid doing so. Furthermore, many investors concluded that Afghanistan was not prepared for the e-commerce revolution. Exacerbated by these two challenges, the country’s chances of creating a successful e-commerce platform were rapidly dwindling.
The work of the second generation of e-commerce enterprises was difficult due to a lack of public trust and investor support. To avoid falling into the same trap, the following wave of companies had to pursue a new path. New businesses attempted to identify a specialized sentiment, establish a devoted customer base around it, and convince people to return to the world – Future of E-commerce in Afghanistan.
The Click.af e-commerce platform attempted to focus on the footwear business in order to deal with the uncertainties of new and returning clients. Click.af attracted early customers by expanding the styles, designs, and brands of footwear accessible for sale at a minimal profit margin. Customers’ loyalty and trust grew significantly as the company continued to sell at a low-profit margin and provided expensive “after-sale” services. We assured that clients would not be misled by focussing on a single product. They were generally aware of product prices in physical markets and were satisfied with the possibility to purchase products online for the same price as in the market while remaining at home.
Becoming a Necessity of Future of E-commerce in Afghanistan
The government imposed a lockdown on major cities in Afghanistan, including Kabul, less than a month after the first COVID-19 case in the country. Due to the spread of the virus, most physical establishments and public transportation were closed during the lockdown. Many families were left trapped as a result of this scenario, particularly in Afghanistan. Online merchants, on the other hand, were able to operate without violating social distancing restrictions, which could help to reduce the number of lockout violations. Many quickly realized that for many customers, internet retail and door-to-door delivery was the only option.
Click.af was able to give answers for both customers and physical establishments due to the government’s approval to operate throughout the lockout. To expand the number and types of products available for sale, Click.af began registering actual establishments and their merchandise. Customers were able to find what they were looking for on Click.af’s e-commerce platform as a result of this. Customers who had never purchased anything online before were given the opportunity to do so as a result of the lockdown, and they overcame their anxiety about changing their shopping habits.
Future of E-commerce in Afghanistan
Click.af has serviced over 100,000 unique clients in Kabul since its launch, showing that the vast majority of Kabul residents with internet access have done online shopping with Click.af. Our experience during the first COVID-19 lockout suggests that if internet connectivity and availability improves, online retail businesses may become a viable alternative to traditional stores.
With our “Click Goes Global” event on December 7th, our ambition became a global platform. Click.af will be able to export Afghan handicrafts and products all over the world starting this month. Afghans have an even bigger chance to bridge the gap and highlight the superior quality of our products to a wider consumer segment now that this type of platform is available to an international market.