Following its biggest ever jump in 2020, e-commerce in Bangladesh is likely mature in the new year of 2021.
Access to smartphones and internet paved the way for the growth of the annual e-commerce market to Tk6,000-Tk8,000 crore before the pandemic.
Meanwhile, stuck at home earlier this year, people began to order almost everything online: daily needs, durable consumer items, automobiles, and even services.
Alongside some large e-commerce platforms, thousands of small and mid-size entrepreneurs joined the online modes as sellers.
Of the total 50,000 online sellers, an encouraging portion consists of newly emerged women entrepreneurs.
The inclusion of many firm product sellers is another inspiring story – all have helped the local e-commerce market grow to at least Tk16,000 crore already.
The social-media based online sales made total sales grow even larger, and there is no reason that this virtual selling practice will slow.
The campaigns of some large e-commerce platforms drew in a huge number of people towards online platforms.
However, the industry is still nascent and needs a lot of issues to be resolved including: delivery policy and infrastructure, product return and refunds, dispute resolution, tackling malpractice for the sake of building trust, and getting the right e-commerce policy in order to ensure right business practices and attract new investments.
"I expect that in 2021 a lot of these will be on the table and the industry will be more structured," said Mohammad Sahab Uddin, e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-Cab) vice-president.
"We also need to seriously think about cross-border e-commerce – which can be a game changer if small and medium enterprises get direct access to foreign consumers and importers," he added.
e-Cab is working closely with the government on the much-needed development of the country's e-commerce ecosystem, which has potential to grow manifold.