For some, shopping is a fulfilment of necessities; while for others, it is a way of adding newer paint to the palette of a seemingly bland life – be it a pair of new sunglasses or a bag of fresh, juicy tomatoes. There is hardly anyone who claims that the feeling of owning a new item does not add a little flair of happiness to their days.
'Window-shoppers' have successfully pulled off this notion of little joy since the inception of the term itself. They have consistently aligned themselves with the altering means of shopping, keeping the raw vibe of it alive all the while. And as a result, marketplaces like Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, Walmart, etc. have gained more and more mileage to redefine the global market infrastructures.
Flowing with the tides of gradual transformation in the fields and modalities of business and commerce industries, Bangladesh has also seen some rapid changes over the past decades.
The mass population became familiar with the term 'e-commerce' in the '90s and then took the baby-steps towards familiarisation and better adaptability to it throughout the decade of 2000.
The means of digital transactions were slowly gaining more credibility. With people becoming financially more solvent, the true utility aspects of e-commerce were gradually unveiled to the mass.
According to Bangladesh Bank, nearly Tk11 Billion worth of payments and transactions by credit cards were made in June 2008. More and more digital transaction service providers have brought newer momentum to the market.
Backed up by a much better internet infrastructure across the country, Bangladesh has finally started to see brighter light in the fields of e-commerce – i.e., the implementation of e-payment gateway by Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), and Bangladesh Bank's joint observation of 'e-commerce Week,' country's first fair on e-commerce in 2013 and more.
It was evident that all the relevant authorities were pushing their limits to create a sustainable model for the industry to flourish in Bangladesh.
Fast forward to today, the country is currently witnessing an optimum progress in the scene, with an online business industry worth more than Tk10,000 crores. The e-CAB projections show the industry is growing annually at about a 50%. This tremendous pace syncs with the country's economic growth and boosts the GDP.
The world economy experienced a massive downfall due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, on the brighter side of it, online marketplaces simultaneously grew in popularity since most people had no other option but to use e-platforms for their necessary shopping. The local e-commerce and f-commerce vendors are now constantly gearing up for better customer service, eventually leading to better profitability.
The presence and interest of globally successful parent companies like Alibaba in Bangladesh prove the field's potential. For a stronger business structure, better nurturing of businessmen and investors, as well as monitoring of business policy and overview of strategies – it is imperative for the government to intervene for an unbiased settlement.
A Digital Commerce Consultative Committee has been overlooking the e-commerce sector's growth to reach the peak of its potential. The committee emphasised the implementation of the 'National Digital Commerce Policy 2018', attractive investment, and facilitation of e-commerce firms to secure loans from various sources.
Although the number of total e-commerce ventures in Bangladesh remains unspecified, e-CAB has about 1,300 members with more than 1 lakh f-commerce entrepreneurs. This number is increasing with every passing day.
E-commerce globally has a much larger span of interlinked processes with the inclusion of various archetypes like Business to Business (B2B), Business to Consumer (B2C), Consumer to Consumer (C2C), and B2G (Business to Government). To support the wide array of activities under such variation, a nation needs an integrated and stable ICT infrastructure which Bangladesh lacks.
But it barely indicates any permanent impediment since Bangladesh is adjusting to global ICT standards pretty fast. Bangladesh currently has some promising mobile financial systems, along with the banks supervising digital transaction systems more intricately than ever before. The online marketplaces are also learning through consistent trial-and-error processes. They are continually experimenting to see what works and what does not.
Inspired by the global shopping phenomena 'Black Friday', now we see shopping-spree campaigns like '11.11' and '12.12' in Bangladesh turning out to be massively successful. Such acclimatization only outlines an incredible prospect for those who have the eyes to see.
Bangladesh is now witnessing the construction of a self-sufficient e-commerce ecosystem, where almost all the parties involved can find something beneficial for their individual purposes. Now when Mr A from Tetulia needs a brand-new TV to go by with his homebound lockdown days, Mrs Z, with her little electronic shop in Teknaf, seizes the opportunity to present her special discount offers to a potential customer.
A chain of commerce, beyond proximity, backed up by safe liquid transactions, is hence completed inside a win-win ecosystem. It is the very ecosystem where a million dispersed stories of SME entrepreneurs, supply-chain personnel, delivery men, and happy customers add up single blocks to complete the bigger picture of a country enjoying mounting economic leverage.