The E-commerce Readiness Assessment Report revealed that Sri Lanka has to go a long way to fully implement e-commerce in a productive manner.

The report was launched by the Commonwealth Secretariat (COMSEC) in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB).

The report is the result of a request by the EDB in 2018 for technical assistance from COMSEC to conduct an e-readiness assessment for Sri Lanka and undertake capacity-building programmes on e-commerce for SMEs and women entrepreneurs.

The project was funded by COMSEC through the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation (CFTC). The publication comes at a time when businesses in Sri Lanka were compelled to exploit e-commerce mechanisms in the wake of lockdowns and travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

The model covers citizen maturity, business readiness, IT infrastructure and accessibility, logistics and delivery, policy and regulations, and it gives five levels of maturity or readiness for each of the five parameters.

Overall, the study found that in spite of the optimism among businesses with regard to the use of e-commerce, the present state of e-commerce development in Sri Lanka is basic.

However, the report noted that the potential for expansion, both for the domestic market and cross-border trade, appears to be enormous. Citizen maturity for e-commerce was observed to be at the basic level.

As per the report, challenges prevail with regard to low internet availability and low usage of e-payment due to lack of awareness, skill, and trust.

Business readiness for e-commerce has also been ranked at the basic level, as businesses score low in terms of availability of skills, know-how and technology infrastructure as well as on the adoption of technology for selling and buying.

In respect of logistics and delivery, the publication noted that although some logistic firms are using information and communication technology, it was not the case for the entire delivery chain.

“Lack of resources, skills, know-how and awareness, and indeed lack of automation in material handling is a major challenge facing firms in relation to effectively supporting e-commerce”, the report noted.

Nevertheless, IT infrastructure and accessibility and policy and regulations parameters have been assessed at a higher level of maturity than the other three parameters by the publication. According to the report, Sri Lanka’s internet penetration – which is currently at 30% - has to rise and high bandwidth must be made available to increase the digital population.