E-commerce in Bangladesh is among the less affected businesses in Bangladesh during the COVID -19 pandemic. Just like other major countries around the world, Bangladesh too has enforced a nationwide lockdown. In such a tough situation, e-commerce and mobile apps are coming to our rescue.
E-commerce in the times of ‘lockdown’
Honestly speaking, we could not have been confined within our homes at a better time than this. Bangladesh now has more than 31 million people using smartphones.
Moreover, according to a 2019 article, internet penetration in Bangladesh is at an all-time high at 9.37 crore. Therefore, it is high time for businesses to move online and start reaching out to customers digitally.
E-commerce in Bangladesh has been booming with the growing number of technology adopters, especially among the youth. Successful e-commerce ventures inside and outside the countries have prompted many entrepreneurs and established businesses to look for e-commerce solutions.
Adding to that, in a fast-paced lifestyle, the average consumer is now more concerned about convenience while buying something.
The coronavirus outbreak has shown us the importance of having an online presence for businesses. It can be seen that those who have already adapted to an e-commerce framework, are running well despite the lockdowns. The virus outbreak has hampered in-store traffic hugely.
On the other hand, we have seen a surge in online traffic. This is forcing traditional consumers to look for available alternatives in e-commerce in Bangladesh.
E-commerce in Bangladesh: current scenario
According to the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), the e-business industry in the country is now worth BDT 8,000 crore. Furthermore, it is steadily growing at a rate of 50 percent annually.
Experts think that this is the right time for entrepreneurs to take the initiative and come up with e-commerce ventures.
Particularly, e-commerce sites offering daily essentials, grocery items, food items, medicine, and healthcare products have seen a huge rise in online customers. In contrast to this, cosmetics, fashion items, clothing, and IT services are still recovering from the sudden change in buyer-behavior.
In spite of the opportunities, the lack of deliverymen has significantly contributed to the slowdown of e-commerce in Bangladesh recently. Additionally, the confusion over the safety regarding imported items is also there. Nevertheless, smart businesses can easily find solutions for such issues and garner more customer engagement than before.
It is sad that we are seeing a lot of people belonging to the low-income groups, especially day laborers getting unemployed during this crisis. E-commerce businesses can hire these people to work as delivery people. Besides, e-commerce is among the necessary services in the country still allowed to run as usual.
At least, businesses can concentrate more on smaller clusters where delivery and transport will not be a big problem. For the traditional retailers, this is a great opportunity not only to survive through this crisis period, but to thrive as well.
People are locked up inside their homes and are being discouraged to step out. Moreover, the COVID situation is getting worse by the day.
Therefore, in such circumstances, the wisest thing to do for the consumers will be to order essentials online. And as we approach Ramadan and Eid, the online shopping adoption will only be rising, especially among the medium to higher income groups.
The Government support to e-commerce
The Government of Bangladesh has always backed digital ways to do business. The government is always supportive of e-commerce businesses as well.
Furthermore, at an online event organized recently titled, ‘E-commerce calls in the service of humanity’, different top officials of the government, including the commerce minister have assured that the government will do everything necessary to facilitate smooth services of e-commerce in Bangladesh.
The government is also looking into how e-commerce businesses can carry on without any hindrances during this lockdown period and beyond.
According to Anir Chowdhury, policy adviser of the a2i programme under the Information and Communication Technology Division, “Bangladesh is a huge market, so entrepreneurs should ideally have the capacity to cater to 50 lakh orders daily. However, they can currently only manage 50,000.”
Here’s more from the event: Bangladeshis adopting e-commerce faster than ever amid pandemic
This is an indication of the huge gap that needs to be fulfilled. Hence, it can be said that the opportunity for e-commerce entrepreneurs at a time like this is immeasurable. Without a doubt, proper technology integration can propel an online business to newer heights.
E-commerce in Bangladesh: How to stand out from the rest
While it is a fact that there is a very good number of e-commerce sites available online in Bangladesh, not all of them are up to the mark. Especially, when it comes to customer engagement and satisfaction, most e-commerce businesses in the country fall way short.
Even before the coronavirus crisis started, people started understanding the importance of online business functionalities. As a result, a lot of businesses started e-commerce/mobile apps just to jump on the bandwagon without focusing on other critical issues. Thus, we now see only a few of them still doing good business while the others are not faring well.
To stand out, you always need to keep your customers in mind while designing your e-commerce platform.
You should think and act like a customer as well. This will make it easy for you to design a customer-centric system that will ensure engagement, satisfaction, and retention – all at the same time.
The secret to a successful e-commerce business in Bangladesh
Firstly, you’ll need a good looking website. The website is what gets the customers attraction and thus, the first impression is very important. Therefore, you should concentrate on building a great website which does not only look good, but function well at the same time.
There are a lot of companies in Bangladesh who can build you a good looking website for your e-commerce business. On the other hand, a website is only the most basic of your requirements. To run a successful e-commerce in Bangladesh, you have to integrate it well with the other elements of your business.
This is more important for already established brick and mortar retail shops or other professional businesses offering a variety of products. To run your business smoothly, you should be able to integrate inventory, accounting, and sales in a suitable manner. Adding to that, the reporting feature can also come in very handy.
Similarly, an excellent supply chain and a good delivery mechanism are also crucial in this case. Additionally, as a responsible business owner, you should focus on customer support and uninterrupted communications as well.
Grab the opportunity, be a hero
As the Government is constantly making it clear that it will keep supporting the e-commerce service providers amid the lockdown, it is a great opportunity for traditional businesses to move online and play a major role in helping the government to keep people from going out.
To summarize, we have learned it the hard way – how important it is to have online business capabilities. Experts around the world are saying that even after the situation comes back to normal, the average consumer would be adopted to more convenient and easier ways of buying goods.
As a result, we will see even more rise in the numbers of traffic for e-commerce in Bangladesh.
It is not even a matter of uncertainty now, rather it is a surety that people will be more inclined towards online shopping rather than going to crowded physical marketplaces.
For this reason, businesses that will think proactively now and move to e-commerce capabilities will weather the storm better than the others. Stay ahead of your competitors. Say hello to e-commerce!
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