Describes how widely eCommerce is used, the primary sectors that sell through e-commerce, and how much product/service in each sector is sold through e-commerce versus brick-and-mortar retail. Includes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and , reputable, prominent B2B websites.
Last Published: 2/14/2018

Overview

As of January 2017, there were 50 ISPs in Nepal, with about 200,000 subscribers, and nearly 15 million internet users nationwide.  Roughly 40 percent of these accounts are commercial, with businesses using 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.  While relatively little business activity is conducted online, the market is growing.  As of May 2017, there were more than 56,286 registered websites in Nepal, including 40,000 commercial websites.  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 ordered online.  An online food delivery website is popular with both expatriates and local residents.

Cross-Border eCommerce

Nepalis cannot yet order from India-based websites like Amazon.in or 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.

B2B eCommerce

Post is not aware of any sites promoting B2B eCommerce.  Like all forms of eCommerce in Nepal, B2B eCommerce is in a nascent stage.

eCommerce Services

There are a few websites that offer eCommerce services.  Some popular ones include muncha, thamelmall, and bitarak.  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 will serve as the foundation for new IPR legislation that is expected to be promulgated in the next couple of years.  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 muncha, thamelmall, bitarak, and foodmandu are well-known eCommerce sites in Nepal.

Online Payment

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. 

Mobile eCommerce

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.

Digital Marketing

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. 

Social Media

Nepalis are embracing social media.  Post’s combined Facebook page and Twitter account have over 1.7 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.

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Nepal eCommerce Industry Trade Development and Promotion eCommerce