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Virtual shopping goes viral among Bhutanese

Variety and price are the main factors that draw people to shop online

Trend: A popular online shopping site, AliExpress is fast gaining popularity among many urbanites with the deliveries being made right at home.

Although the trend of shopping online has picked up over the years among thousands of Bhutanese, AliExpress is preferred mainly because deliveries are made through Bhutan Post and the products are affordable.

The delivery via Bhutan Post usually takes about a month to two. If people pay extra for shipping, the delivery is made sooner. Suppliers ship products to over 200 different countries and regions including Bhutan.

According to Bhutan Post officials, in a month they receive more than 300 online registered packets. The customers are then informed of the packets.

“Usually the packets are not worth more than USD 10 to 15,” an official said adding there are those who order small items like brooches. “People don’t order expensive items online because they don’t want to take risk,” an official said.

Records with Bank of Bhutan (BOBL) show that the highest amount spent by Bhutanese for a product online is about USD 300 in 2014.

To shop online, customers need to avail international debit or credit cards from banks.

BoBL officials said VISA international debit and credit cardholders have increased over the years.  As of 2014, there are 2,500 VISA international debit cardholders and over 400 international credit cardholders.

“More Bhutanese are going online as it is convenient and you get to buy almost everything,” a businesswoman, Yeshi Denka said.

Another online shopper Kezang Choden, 28, said online shopping is all about variety. “I usually buy shoes and bags and the prices are reasonable and so far the quality is good,” she said. “However, sometimes it takes more than two months to get the products delivered although I would be happy to receive it within a month.”

A corporate employee, Sangay Dema said she shops online for baby clothes only. “I have never ordered anything for myself as of now,” she said. “If I buy from the shops in town, it would cost me more than Nu 1,000 for a baby suit but online, I get two sets of baby clothes with the same amount.”

However, Sonam Wangmo, 39, stopped ordering online after she purchased a school bag for her daughter. “When I checked the details on the website, it looked fine but I was not happy with the quality of the bag,” she said. “After that I stopped shopping online as the products are not worth the amount we pay.”

By Dechen Tshomo 

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