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Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) 2020 launched                    111,75 Think Tanks across the world ranked in different categories.                SDPI is ranked 90th among “Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-US)”.           SDPI stands 11th among Top Think Tanks in South & South East Asia & the Pacific (excluding India).            SDPI notches 33rd position in “Best New Idea or Paradigm Developed by A Think Tank” category.                SDPI remains 42nd in “Best Quality Assurance and Integrity Policies and Procedure” category.              SDPI stands 49th in “Think Tank to Watch in 2020”.            SDPI gets 52nd position among “Best Independent Think Tanks”.                           SDPI becomes 63rd in “Best Advocacy Campaign” category.                   SDPI secures 60th position in “Best Institutional Collaboration Involving Two or More Think Tanks” category.                       SDPI obtains 64th position in “Best Use of Media (Print & Electronic)” category.               SDPI gains 66th position in “Top Environment Policy Tink Tanks” category.                SDPI achieves 76th position in “Think Tanks With Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program” category.                    SDPI notches 99th position in “Top Social Policy Think Tanks”.            SDPI wins 140th position among “Top Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks”.               SDPI is placed among special non-ranked category of Think Tanks – “Best Policy and Institutional Response to COVID-19”.                                            Owing to COVID-19 outbreak, SDPI staff is working from home from 9am to 5pm five days a week. All our staff members are available on phone, email and/or any other digital/electronic modes of communication during our usual official hours. You can also find all our work related to COVID-19 in orange entries in our publications section below.    The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is pleased to announce its Twenty-third Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 14 – 17 December 2020 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of this year’s Conference is Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19. Read more…       FOOD SECIRITY DASHBOARD: On 4th Nov, SDPI has shared the first prototype of Food Security Dashboard with Dr Moeed Yousaf, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on  National Security and Economic Outreach in the presence of stakeholders, including Ministry of National Food Security and Research. Provincial and district authorities attended the event in person or through zoom. The dashboard will help the government monitor and regulate the supply chain of essential food commodities.

Harnessing the power of e-commerce to help small businesses bounce back
By: Mohanish Agni

The coronavirus (Covid-19) has impacted countries, economies, business and individuals alike. With even global governments and giant corporations dealing with new challenges, it’s clear no one could have anticipated such disruption – least of all small businesses.

The small and medium enterprises (SME) sector has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic and especially so in emerging economies. However, we must recognise that SMEs are key players in the world economy and important contributors to job creation, especially in emerging markets.

In Pakistan, close to 3 million small and medium businesses account for 40% of the country’s GDP – and according to Pakistan’s Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), around 1.4 million SMEs may lose half (50%) of their income. Meanwhile, 58% of small businesses have already laid employees off and 47% have cut salaries, with almost 9.5 million of non-agricultural jobs in Pakistan now at risk due to Covid-19.

The impact on brick-and-mortar outlets that are largely offline and reliant on personal visits continues to be severe due to fears of contracting the virus. These traditional merchants, typically, have little savings and much of their transactions take place in cash. A Visa survey conducted to understand the impact of the pandemic on shopping related behavior found that the virus has significantly altered physical store shopping behavior in Pakistan, with 43% of consumers having significantly reduced buying in-store. When they do shop in-store, 55% of customers now use digital payments, with the majority using mobile wallets (51%), and the remaining using cards – both chip and pin (48%) and contactless (37%).

In other words, consumers have switched to buy from small businesses with strong digital capabilities.

For businesses that remain offline and without the option of digital payments, the move to eCommerce will be critical in order to navigate the pandemic. To help this ecosystem of merchants, looking at how to enhance their online avenues, Visa has launched a ‘Small Business Hub’ as part of “Where You Shop Matters”, our regional SME focused initiative that will provide information toolkits for digital growth and resources on how to move to new digital ways of working.

Visa has also collaborated with Daraz, Pakistan’s leading online marketplace, to help encourage the nation’s offline merchants to transition to eCommerce by showcasing stories of small businesses that have succeeded in Pakistan using Daraz’s online marketplace platform, logistics infrastructure and training support. The partnership will also highlight SMEs on Daraz’s platform to a wider consumer base.

While the current circumstances have radically altered consumer shopping patterns and incentivised small businesses to get online, merchants must be conscious that consumers continue to demand a secure and seamless payment experience. As the appetite to transact online grows, so does the need for ensuring online security. The balance between providing a convenient and seamless shopping experience must be balanced with a safe experience too.

A common mistake among new online merchants is to overcompensate for fear of fraud by implementing security solutions that are so rigid that they prevent legitimate consumers from shopping and checking out with ease. According to findings from Visa’s survey, 60% of consumers in Pakistan have abandoned their online shopping carts because of authentication delays or failure.

Visa Secure, Visa’s new program governing online transactions uses the EMV 3-D Secure industry-wide messaging standard that merchants and issuing banks must follow to verify cardholder identity before a transaction is sent for authorization. Visa Secure delivers greater fraud prevention by sharing up to 10 times more data with issuers for better risk analysis and advanced decision making.

In addition to security, customers have also come to expect convenience, minimal effort and higher transactional speed, making it important for merchants to offer omnichannel payment solutions to enhance the consumer experience, and build and retain a base of loyal customers. In the payments arena, omnichannel refers to the ability to allow customers to conduct transactions in multiple ways without much difference in convenience or service including with NFC, QR code payments and in-app purchases or payments.

At Visa, we remain committed to supporting Pakistan’s small business ecosystem and championing their recovery. For our economies and societies to thrive again, it is imperative that these merchants bounce back.

This article was originally published at: https://nation.com.pk/16-Jul-2020/harnessing-the-power-of-e-commerce-to-help-small-businesses-bounce-back

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.