Online business: A threat to shopkeepers

Online business: A threat to shopkeepers

A group of girls are engrossed in their phone. They browse the screen with great excitement as they do “online shopping” viewing photos of the products, along with product specifications, features and prices.
Various online shopping websites such as Air BNB, Alibaba, eBay, Myntra and B-bay-buying and selling are increasingly becoming popular among the buyers.
Online shopping has a wider range of choices as buyers can compare different brands and products. They can buy things from home instead of going to a shop.

More and more people are unwilling to go out since they have an alternative which is easier. The issue of online shopping was raised during the question and answer hours at the National Assembly.

Kilkhorthang Mendrelgang, MP, Bimal Thapa questioned regarding online shopping that affects shopkeepers in the society. He said such businesses are illegal; it has greatly affected legal business firms, and tax system in the country.

He inquired the Economic Affairs minister to clarify the house on what is ministry doing to monitor tax system on such businesses and also regarding the plans and measures to make those businesses legal. 

In response, Economic Affairs minister, Loknath Sharma said online shopping is a threat to the shopkeepers it is illegal business without any online business licenses. “With the development of information technology around the world, we also face the heat on doing businesses online in our country.”

He added with the government has established e-commerce guidelines and with the guidelines they have licensed 31 of them to do online businesses. Likewise, RMA has also started the Payment gateway and government has also given license according to it. “We are coming up with e-commerce policy too.”

“With the digital world, online businesses should not be forbidden, instead people who are doing business should have ease of doing their businesses online,” said Economic Affairs minister, adding a digital economy is our future economic roadmap.

He further shared to the house that opportunities need to be given to the online business people. They have to pay tax according to the tax rate. “Government also needs to work on formalities of these businesses,” he said, adding online shopping is convenient, timesaving and have multiple choices and higher satisfaction for the customers.

“We are looking for more businessmen to take up online business under e-commerce guidelines and further give them license to do business digitally,” Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said.

On the other hand, online shopping has negative impacts in several ways in the society. Shopping addiction is caused by uncontrollable regular habits. Especially, when one can buy stuffs from a device as simple as your phone.
Business Bhutan talked with some of the shopkeepers in Thimphu, who are facing difficulty selling their goods. All suggested that government need to work on a way to monitor such businesses as it affects shopkeepers in the society.

One of the cloth shopkeepers said that if one buys through online businesses, the first drawback is that they cannot try the products before making a purchase but people enjoy online shopping.

“Products sold online are often less reliable, and the product that gets delivered to their house might have a poorer quality than expected,” he said.
“It’s a threat to us,” said another shopkeeper who was selling shoes near the vegetable market. “My business was running successfully and I used to get more money than its actual price when there was no business called “online shopping,” she said. She added that she is not able to sell a pair of shoes on some days. “I am trying to open a new website (online shopping) for my business,” she said

Kinley Yonten from Thimphu