“COVID-19 and lockdowns usher in new era for e-commerce in SL”

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The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns ushered in a new era for e-commerce in Sri Lanka as there was an increase in purchasing goods and services online due to necessity. This shift seems to remain and grow in normal times even as physical shops have opened The most used device for online shopping is the Smartphone, with 95% of e-commerce users using it to make online purchases.   

This was disclosed by a first in-depth study report titled “E-commerce: A Driver of Inclusive Growth in Sri Lanka?” on the adoption and use of e-commerce in Sri Lanka during a roundtable discussion held in Colombo on Monday The report compiled by Daraz Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka Association for Software Services Companies (SLASSCOM) was presented to and discussed with the State Minister of Technology, Kanaka Herath, in the presence of key report contributors Encouragingly, over 50% of the survey respondents in all provinces say they use e-commerce to purchase goods and services. 

Additionally, provinces close to and further away from the Western Province are not lagging behind in terms of e-commerce adoption.  

It was also disclosed that online shopping is dominated by consumer goods, and a number of services such as telecommunication (phone and data bills), taxi services, and food delivery, and new goods categories like groceries are trending.  

“There is growing awareness of the wide range of goods and services available for online purchasing, along with interest in diversifying into new e-purchases,” the report said. Survey respondents say that they are discouraged from shopping online because of a lack of requisite knowledge and skills to do so, worries about the quality of online purchases and poor customer experiences after placing Over 89% of e-commerce users indicate that a coherent and predictable policy framework can support the growth of the country’s e-commerce industry.  

The findings of this e-commerce survey underline that e-commerce has emerged as a vibrant economic sector in Sri Lanka. Professorial Fellow in Economics and Trade at Gateway House, Mumbai Dr Ganeshan Wignaraja opined, “An expanding digital economy and the e-commerce sector are supportive of the economy’s shift from crisis to recovery in Sri Lanka’s 75th anniversary of independence.”  

Managing Director of Daraz Sri Lanka Rakhil Fernando said: “E-commerce is still a relatively new industry in Sri Lanka. However, one of the main findings of this research is that e-commerce is already an islandwide phenomenon, and it is widely used for purchasing goods and services.” 

“Over 50% of the survey respondents in all provinces said they use e-commerce to purchase goods and services, and provinces close to and further away from the Western Province are not lagging in terms of e-commerce adoption.”

“This is a strong indicator that e-commerce will play a catalytic role in advancing retail trade in Sri Lanka, despite the challenging landscape.”

Chairperson of SLASSCOM Ashique M. Ali said: “The accelerated growth of e-commerce has transformed the way businesses operate in the post-pandemic world.

We have observed that in our region and beyond, countries that were quick to adopt e-commerce and digital payment methods have witnessed much higher, inclusive economic growth and this positive impact and trend can be beneficial for Sri Lanka, albeit the challenges of the economic crisis.”

Dr Wignaraja, a Senior Research Associate at ODI Global, London, designed and co-authored the report together with Anishka De Zylva, Head of Public Policy and Corporate Affairs at Daraz Sri Lanka.

The report is based on the meticulous collection of primary data through an islandwide survey of a sample population of more than 4,500 participants undertaken between March 2022 and July 2022.

More information on the report can be obtained from email [email protected].


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