The Covid-19 pandemic has appeared as a blessing in disguise for the e-commerce entrepreneurs as their businesses have become lucrative.
Seeing the possibility of this sector's growth, many local entrepreneurs are becoming interested in launching startup e-commerce companies now.
Speakers made the comments during a virtual dialogue titled "E-commerce: Bangladesh Perspective" organised by the Agamir Bangladesh on Tuesday afternoon.
According to the Agamir Bangladesh, a citizens' platform, online orders for major e-commerce companies and supermarkets have increased up to ten times amid the pandemic than that at normal times.
"Within two years, we are expecting that e-commerce will create employment for 5 lakh people," said Md Abdul Wahed Tomal, general secretary of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB).
He said due to the pandemic 85 percent of e-commerce companies were closed two months ago, but now almost all companies are running again and receiving a good volume of orders.
Tomal further said, "The global trend of business is changing due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now people living in Bangladesh are making goods in China and selling those in America. We have to adapt to changes in order to achieve a sustainable growth in this sector."
Mallika Roy, assistant professor at Economics Department of Chittagong University, said, "Earlier, fashion related products were most sought on e-commerce platforms, but now demand for medical equipment like personal protective equipment, masks, hand sanitisers has risen by 198 percent."
She said one of the main reasons behind it is development of the ICT sector. Increase in mobile penetration and availability of internet connection have attracted a huge number of entrepreneurs and customers to this sector.
She also said the scope of creating employment in the e-commerce sector has increased while the sectors are going through pay cuts or layoffs amid the pandemic.
Speakers at the programme said e-commerce platforms are more customer-friendly as shoppers can see reviews on a product or the service of a company before buying something from them. As a matter of fact, e-commerce companies have to ensure good quality in their service to get good reviews.
"However, sometimes exploiting the customers' trust, some unscrupulous people run fraudulent activities on e-commerce platforms. It is high time to monitor the sector for the sake of its sustainable growth," said Niaz Mahmud, a journalist at the Dhaka Tribune.
"Paid-up capital plays a fundamental role in running a business. In e-commerce businesses, customers' confidence towards the company plays the role of paid-up capital," he added.
e-CAB General Secretary Tomal opined that unscrupulous and fake entrepreneurs join this sector because becoming an e-commerce entrepreneur has become so easy now.
The e-CAB general secretary also said, "Anyone can become a Facebook entrepreneur by opening a Facebook page. I guess the number of Facebook entrepreneurs has crossed 1 lakh already in Bangladesh."
He also said there is no law regarding e-commerce at all. The fake entrepreneurs are taking advantage of that lacking and spoiling the customers' trust in e-commerce.
"But we are working on it. We have already talked with different ministries to make laws regarding e-commerce platforms," Tomal added.
Sources said 80,000 families in the country receive services from different e-commerce sites every day.
According to Statista, the size of the local e-commerce market was $1,648 million in 2019. It expanded to $2,077 million in 2020, and presumably it will reach $3,077 million in 2023.