Nepal - eCommerce Nepal - eCommerce
As of May 2019, there were 31 private ISPs in Nepal, with about 200,000 subscribers, and nearly 16.67 million internet users nationwide. Roughly 40 percent of these accounts are commercial, with businesses promoting their products and services and communicating with foreign businesses via the internet. Online activity is concentrated in Kathmandu and a half-dozen other cities, with relatively little internet penetration in rural areas, although this is slowly changing with most users accessing the internet via mobile phones. While relatively little business activity is conducted online, the market is growing. Many businesses rely on the internet when dealing with foreign partners.
Current Market Trends
eCommerce is still in its infancy in Nepal. The country’s challenging terrain and lack of street addresses make deliveries a challenge. Credit card transfers and transfers from e-banking websites are sometimes accepted, but Nepalis who do not have a dollar account cannot make payments using foreign currency.
Domestic eCommerce (B2C)
There are a handful of websites that offer eCommerce for consumers in the Kathmandu Valley, although most of these are traditional retailers that offer delivery services for their products ordererd online. An online food delivery website (www.foodmandu.com) is popular with both expatriates and local residents. Sastodeal and Daraz are rising online shopping portals (www.sastodeal.com, www.daraz.com ).
Nepalis cannot yet order from India-based websites like Flipkart.com. Some entrepreneurs maintain websites that promise to deliver merchandise ordered from Indian websites, but the operational status of these businesses is unclear and they do not appear to be widely used.
Post is not aware of any sites promoting B2B eCommerce. Like all forms of eCommerce in Nepal, B2B eCommerce is in a nascent stage.
There are a few websites that offer eCommerce services. Some popular ones include www.muncha.com, www.thamelmall.com, and www.bitarak.com. These sites are generally used to send gifts during religious festivals – frequently by overseas Nepalis –and delivery of goods is done primarily within Nepal.
eCommerce Intellectual Property Rights
Nepal’s intellectual property rights (IPR) laws and regulations are outdated, ineffective, and sporadically enforced. In March 2017, Nepal’s cabinet approved a new IPR policy that has been used as the foundation to prepare a draft Law on IPR. This draft is currently under governmental review. There is reason to expect that the new legislation will represent a substantial improvement over existing laws and regulations, and will address new technology such as eCommerce.
Popular eCommerce Sites
Sites such as www.muncha.com, www.thamelmall.com, www.bitarak.com, and www.hamrobazaar.com are well-known eCommerce sites in Nepal,.
Websites facilitating electronic commerce are mostly based outside Nepal, where credit card verification services are readily available. Credit card transfers and transfers from e-banking websites are accepted, but Nepalis who do not have a dollar account cannot make payments in foreign currency. Foreign exchange is tightly regulated and not freely available. Nepali retailers have few options available for online payment, although many companies now claim to offer mobile payment solutions for domestic purchases.
Almost 60 percent of Nepalis have access to the internet, with over 95 percent accessing it through mobile phones. There are opportunities for retailers to promote mobile eCommerce.
Few firms in Nepal use digital marketing, but as more Nepalis acquire smart phones, opportunities in this field could grow.
Major Buying Holidays
Nepal’s biggest holidays – Dashain and Tihar – are separated by about three weeks. Their timing fluctuates, but Dashain usually falls in late September or early October, while Tihar is in late October. Many Nepalis return to their home villages during this time.
Nepalis are embracing social media. Post’s combined Facebook page and Twitter account have nearly 4 million followers – significantly more than the circulation of all daily newspapers combined. Over 70 percent of Nepal’s population is under the age of 35, which suggests that the number of social media users will continue to grow.