TBS: How was your journey into the world of e-commerce? What motivated you to shift your career path to e-commerce?
Tajdin Hassan: A common space between the industry I previously worked in - the media, and the one I am currently working in - e-commerce, is trust. It is equally challenging as well as exciting when it comes to uplifting the trust within the customers.
A company can have a strong brand name and can have the most robust portfolio of products, but at the end of the day the customers are the heart of any company.
E-commerce is a space where there are a lot of scopes to convey the message of how the lifestyles of the customers can be more convenient.
The admired name of Daraz, the latitude to shape up an ecosystem that's being preferred by the customers, and the task to enhance trust, are the things that motivated me to shift my career path.
What is the role that e-commerce has played and can play in Bangladesh's economic development?
Hassan: Like most other countries in the world, Bangladesh now has a thriving e-commerce industry (worth approximately USD 2.0 billion, according to a November 2020 report), which is expected to reach a mature state within the next five years.
We are slowly stepping into a tech-dependent ecosystem where the digital means of purchase and transaction will surely be given higher priority. Thus, it is predictable that e-commerce is only going to add more value to our economy, businesses, and entrepreneurs.
Already many businesses have partnered with Daraz as sellers. Outside, there are many more e-commerce ventures. These, all in all, are helping shape Bangladesh's next generation of businessmen, providing them the opportunity to grow experience with much-improved convenience and customer reach.
Global e-commerce growth has been eating into traditional retail. What's the situation in Bangladesh, and how is it reflecting a change in consumer trends?
Hassan: The introduction of online marketplaces, virtual consumer engagements, and digital payment systems shifted the game largely from traditional retails to e-commerce platforms.
This shift has brought all of our favourite brands and products inside the screens of our electronic gadgets. This provides an additional opportunity for the retail industry to maximise revenue.
Industry-leading organisations such as Daraz Bangladesh and its online food platform HungryNaki, are incorporating the basic values of e-commerce to the mass population via various B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) modalities.
Now Daraz Bangladesh sees an average of 80K orders per day. Special campaigns and occasions see even better traction; for example, during our last 11.11 campaign, we generated $2.5 million sales in the first hour!
Through various online channels, importers and wholesale businessmen are now collaborating and facilitating each other's ventures. It is clear that e-commerce in Bangladesh is redefining its presumed utility and adapting brilliantly according to the changing market needs.
How has the 'new normal' lifestyle resulting from Covid-19 changed how people shop?
Hassan: Covid-19 has indeed been playing a major role in altering our behaviors and mindsets. Since it spreads through close contact, it requires people to avoid crowded places. This eventually created a whole new reason for online marketplaces to become popular.
The 'new normal' lifestyle resulting from Covid-19 has made customers explore the e-commerce platforms more. With this added mileage, we have also been trying to provide exclusive deals and discounts to attract more customers.
Overall, people's dependence on e-commerce has increased over the new normal period, and it is benefitting their healthy lifestyles while boosting the market opportunity for e-commerce.
Can you reflect on Daraz's journey to becoming the leading online marketplace in South Asia? What obstacles it had to face while conducting and expanding its business in Bangladesh? Do you think that these obstacles still exist after so many years? If so, why do you think steps are not being taken to remove these? How can these be resolved?
Hassan: Daraz had a very humble beginning. However, with the advancement of time, Daraz adapted cutting edge technology, built robust infrastructure, and deployed dynamic resources to build a smart and efficient organisation that attracted foreign investors, making Daraz the leading online marketplace in South Asia.
The journey of Daraz has been extremely challenging as it is a new industry which attracted government's attention in 2018 when the digital commerce policy was formed.
Since the inception of Daraz, we have had to create an effective ecosystem amongst the sellers, logistic partners and to build trust amongst customers. The introduction of digital commerce policy and SOP by the government have played a vital role in standardising the industry. However, there are still certain areas in SOP which requires revisiting to ensure international best practices.
How will you explain the future of e-commerce in Bangladesh?
Hassan: The e-commerce trends are expected to be altering in the near future. Experts opine that the digital channels that support e-commerce are becoming intricately multi-linear, as different entities such as shops, sellers, banks, MFS, delivery agents, are collaborating for better profitability.
This is a booming industry which has huge potential in making an e-commerce platform as a one stop solution for the customers from buying groceries to owning luxury automobiles.
In addition to this, by using e-commerce platforms local sellers can display and sell traditional products to foreign buyers, while local customers can purchase authentic foreign goods from foreign sellers in an affordable price and convenient manner.
Import and export, by leveraging the e-commerce platform, will add an extra boost to the economic growth of our country. I really appreciate that the government and the lawmakers are relentlessly working on improving the e-commerce industry to make it a world class revenue generator for the government.
Is Daraz prepared to compete with other multinational and popular competitors? What will be Daraz's strategy to keep their customer's attention and loyalty toward them?
Hassan: After Alibaba takeover, I can confidently say that we now have the proper technological support to expand our activities as we desire.
We are now well prepared to serve and satisfy our customers, which is our primary goal. So it doesn't matter if any other major competitors come because we know how to keep our customers devoted to us.