Daraz Bangladesh Ltd -- the leading online shopping platform in the country -- alone processes around half the daily digital orders.
Over the last three years, the company has been able to register a cent percent year-on-year growth. So said Daraz Managing Director (MD) Syed Mostahidal Hoq in an interview with The Business Standard (TBS) recently.
Despite an upswing in growth, the company is not free of allegations of poor product quality, unsatisfactory customer service, delivery delays and fraudulence with customers to some extent.
Allegations have been there that the online shopping platform had delivered non-branded products to its customers instead of the branded ones shown online.
The Daraz boss shared his take on the issues in a recent conversation with TBS.
The company MD said the firm is committed to building customer trust in digital shopping.
"Our main goal is to make people habituated to online purchase. So, trust is very important in this regard."
He also elaborated on the impact of Covid-19 on e-commerce, quality of service and, above all, the prospect of digital shopping in Bangladesh.
In his interaction with TBS, Syed Mostahidal Hoq also touched upon other key industry-related issues.
Asked about the bitter experience about online shopping that customers vent on social media, he said: "Our main focus is to ensure better customer service experience in digital sales this year and the following year."
Mostahidal Hoq, who has been serving as managing director of the leading digital super shop since 2017, said currently Daraz takes 3.9 days on average to deliver a product to any destination in the country.
"We know that better customer experience will make our growth more sustainable and, therefore, we are trying to reduce the delivery time to 3 days."
He, however, said reducing the complaints of customers to zero level is not possible because business is happening through its own market place model.
"Our sellers are located in different parts of the country. If they had been concentrated in just one area, we could have set up a processing centre to ensure quality products," he added.
Despite this limitation, the company is working on two perspectives: smooth and quick refund after a bad experience.
"We have a refund policy within 14 days, which is only 7 days for other companies," claimed Mostahidal Hoq.
Besides, at the sellers' end, Daraz is maintaining a scorecard where quality return rate (QRR) is one of the biggest criteria.
"If the rate of a seller's return is 80% positive, s/he will get more visibility and orders since the sales score is automated and refreshed every two weeks," he said.
Besides, the company has a continuous training programme to enable its sellers to provide better customer service.
Talking about the prospect of e-commerce in Bangladesh, Syed Mostahidal Hoq said the sector still holds a big potential for expansion as the online-shopping union is very small compared to the retail market union.
In 2018, Daraz was fully acquired by Alibaba, the Chinese multinational technology company specialising in e-commerce, retail, Internet and technology.
Bangladeshi consumers, however, often claim that they still cannot buy products from the Alibaba website.
Addressing the issue, the Daraz official said the company does not merely want to be a platform to sell global products, ignoring local products.
"Our main purpose is to increase sales of our local products. Therefore, we always want to keep the global brand within a range of 5-6% of our overall business."
"At the same time, we are trying to provide an export opportunity to our local sellers, who can make online sales abroad, something which we already started last July," he maintained.
This initiative is running as a pilot programme while its commercial launch will take place soon.
Daraz listed 130 top sellers of Alibaba and Aliexpress in its global collection, which offers around 10 lakh products.
"People can purchase those products from Daraz without facing any credit card hassle and tension relating to further tax, which they might face when making a buy from Alibaba."
In the last 10 months, Daraz Bangladesh has registered 65% growth in its merchant or seller size. Early this year, it had 20,000 merchants. The number has now increased to 33,000.
Asked about the process of listing new merchants and how it ensures quality, the Daraz official said the company has some criteria that need to be met by a potential merchant for consideration.
"Besides, we also have a team that is devoted to picking up quality sellers. In addition, we also train our sellers on how to provide quality and better service to customers."
Currently, the company has 2,500 employees in 58 districts and 77 hubs across the country, the majority of them delivery men.
Talking about growth, Syed Mostahidal Hoq said Daraz has been receiving orders two and a half times higher than those in the pre-pandemic period.
"Part of the growth is pandemic-driven while the rest has gone on at a normal pace." A major part of the growth is from outside Dhaka. Earlier, around 70% of its orders used to come from the capital, which have now dropped to 40%.
Besides, the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the total economy, thereby rendering people jobless, said the Daraz managing director.