Internet shutdown shuts e-commerce in Kashmir

‘3000-5000 shipments of online shopping products used to arrive in Valley daily before August 5’
Internet shutdown shuts e-commerce in Kashmir

For Yasir Nazir—IT professional and an impulsive online shopper—purchasing clothes, accessories, home durables and electronics used to be just a click away.

Nazir used to make purchasesworth Rs 10,000 through online shopping mode every month. After 5 August hisshopping habits have changed. "I now often visit departmental stores andshowrooms which sell clothes, accessories and household goods. Everyday myhands are full of shopping bags," says Nazir.

Pertinently, the Jammu andKashmir administration had snapped the internet on 5 August across Kashmir onall the platforms hours before Government of India announced its decision toabrogate J&K's special status and bifurcate it into two Union Territories,J&K and Ladakh. 

Farhan Kitab, chief spokesman, Kashmir Economic Alliance says. "We had lost a good chunk of loyal shoppers to the e-commerce as they were becoming more prone to online shopping. But during the past 2 months new-age online shoppers have started visiting our stores regularly  during the limited hours when markets are open," says Kitab, who also runs a shoe showroom in the city center.

However, suspension ofinternet services has also brought operations of the Point Of Sale (POS)machines, popularly known as swipe machines to a standstill. Kitab says when internetservices were operating smoothly, 50 per cent shoppers used to make purchaseswith help of digital payments, which is at the lowest ebb now.

"With a ban on SMS, we areunable to generate OTPs due to which the digital payments such as Paytm orother modes have become inaccessible," says Kitab.

Faisal Wani, who ownsapparel showroom at Ikhrajpora in civil lines here, says, "The customer-traderinteraction has gone up. It has created a vibe of positive business sentimentas customers are moving around," says Wani.

Zahoor Qari, president of Kashmir Courier Association says 3000-5000 shipments of online shopping products used to arrive in the Valley daily. These have stopped since 5 August due to the internet ban.  "Of 5000 shipments of online shopping products 50 percent share was of mobile phones. Now people purchase the handsets from showrooms.  Even shopkeepers are unable to get new stocks due to various reasons," says Qari.

"Popularity of onlineshopping had increased to an extent that people in the Valley were evenordering medicines online. But now they have to visit the nearest medical shopor ask someone to purchase these medicines from outside the Valley," says Qari.

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