Shopkeepers in the capital are beginning to feel the heat from online shopping, which has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years and threatens to swallow conventional shopping.
“Its threat to us,” said Aum Kinley Dema, who sells Oriflame cosmetics in the 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. “Now I am not able sell as much as before due to my customers buying directly online. I am trying to open a new website (online shopping) for my business,” she said.
Various online shopping websites such as Alibaba, Amazon.com, eBay, Myntra and other local sites on the social media are increasingly becoming popular among Bhutanese shoppers.
The reporter surveyed 20 shopkeepers on the impact of online shopping and almost all the shops said they business had been hurt. At least 50 percent admitted feeling angry and even anger towards toward online shopping.
A shopkeeper, Ap Karma Panjor, who sells clothes in town said, “People are addicted to shopping because they want to satisfy their eyes and look for clothes with good price on various platforms”. He added that he is not able to compete with such online business models where both the seller and buyer meet. “Online shopping is easier and cheaper, so that people tend to buy too much, which leads to waste of money,” he said.
However, online shopping has its drawbacks. “We cannot try products before making a purchase even though people enjoy online shopping,” said Dema, a sales girl. She added products sold online are often less reliable and the product delivered is sometimes of a poorer quality than expected.
Dechen, 23, said that he stopped buying things online because the qualities of things are not good. “I brought LG television from online shopping but now it is not working,” he said.
A corporate employee pointed out that there is a loss of revenue to the government from online shopping. “I don’t know if they pay tax at all. It is revenue leakage,” he said adding that the government should start looking into it.
But online shopping has a wider range of choices as buyers can compare different brands and products. A customer, Sonam Pema said, “More and more people are unwilling to go out since they have an alternative”. She added that online shopping is convenient, timesaving and offers multiple choices and higher satisfaction for the customers.
“Online shopping is a quicker and cheaper way to shop since we can buy products at home without having to go to stores or shopping malls,” said Dorji Penjor, an office going man. “Usually, the things are much cheaper than ones in a shop in Thimphu,” he said.