Be it an industry, small business or customers in general – every single entity using digital self-service channels soared due to Covid-19 restrictions and many of us now prefer online interactions.
While industrial companies have product websites, many struggle to embrace the full potential of digital marketing tools and strategies.
In Bangladesh, the B2B model is still in its early stages of digitisation; most industrial companies do not have updated websites or product information, making it difficult for businesses or clients to avail services even during difficult times such as the ongoing pandemic.
With this in mind, siblings Ali Asgher and Murtaza Baquir, involved with their family business in Old Dhaka's Nawabpur saw the potential for an industry-based e-commerce platform that would meet the demand of industrial products and equipment.
"When Covid-19 hit Bangladesh, shops closed down as per the government's instructions in Nawabpur. But factories or manufacturing plants that remained open still needed materials and equipment to maintain a ceaseless flow of production," said Ali during an interview with The Business Standard.
The siblings duo saw a demand but there was no proper channel through which manufacturers could purchase necessary pieces of equipment without having to move from their workplace or home.
"As we began researching, we learned that suppliers were not being able to sell their industrial products as they are not accustomed to the e-commerce business model. Buyers, on the other hand, were also unwilling to manage transport to commute and verify the product before purchasing," said Ali.
Ali identified a gap of information in the industrial B2B market and eventually realised the need for an online industrial goods trading platform. He then built a website showcasing a handful of industrial products for small-medium businesses.
"During the lockdown, I guided a few buyers to the website where they could browse for the products they needed, and they successfully placed their orders. The initial response was good enough for me to expand my operations," added Ali.
After consulting with a few fellow businesspeople, investors, and founders, Ali and Murtaza established a solid B2B e-channel - Malamal.xyz. This platform is dedicated to offering industrial products that best suit the needs of small and medium workshops, warehouses, factories and manufacturing plants.
Why opt for Malamal.xyz instead of buying directly from sellers?
It is a one-stop-platform offering more than 2,000 industrial products that best suit the needs of small to medium enterprises. Starting from an anti-cutter blade that costs Tk12, Malamal.xyz sells products like an inverter welding machine that costs as high as Tk5,29,000.
All the products are genuine and sold at competitive fixed prices despite being VAT compliant. If found otherwise, customers can return products any day after purchase and get refunds in any form they prefer. Buyers can avail credit upon procuring products; the limit is set based on past dealings.
Users can request for quotations on their desired products and also seek advice from representatives if they are not firm on what to buy.
"Based on clients' requirements, we present them with the best options along with all the technical details that aid in the decision making process," said Ali.
How does Malamal.xyz work?
Just like any other e-commerce platform, customers can browse through the website, add items to cart, checkout and have products delivered to their desired location.
However, when it comes to industrial products, many machines need to be commissioned.
"In such instances, we deliver the product, install it at the venue and give demonstration or training to operators on how to use it," said Ali, while breaking down their operation process.
Malamal.xyz works with a handful of trusted suppliers on a commission basis. "Our commission varies from product to product; we have a set margin of commission for each category," said Ali.
Upon receiving an order, the platform procures products from suppliers on credit, completes the order, and then pays the seller.
Though the platform sells industrial products, its product range is limited to secondary products that aid in the manufacturing process of a final product.
Additional benefits offered by Malamal.xyz
The platform runs a reward service funded by its profits. All sorts of purchases add reward points to a user's profile and buyers can use the points to avail any product of their choice from the "reward yourself" section on the website. It mostly consists of gadgets.
When asked why the company bears the expense, Ali said, "Since our entire business is very transparent and ethical, we offer the reward service as a token of appreciation to our clients who choose to work with us over other entities. It is our way of expressing gratitude towards our clients and showing them how much value we hold for them."
Limitations of being first-of-its kind in Bangladesh
Like any other new idea that emerged in Bangladesh, the industry-based B2B model received its fair share of scepticism from the industry. According to Ali, convincing potential buyers to rely and shift to online procurement was the most challenging task.
Since the idea was new to the market, raising investment for Malamal.xyz was not easy for Ali. According to him, it is easier to raise investment if similar business models have proven to be successful.
"However, I am grateful to Ejaj Ahmad, founder and president, Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center, for believing in our idea and coming on-board as the initial investor. At the moment, we do not need investment who want quick returns, rather we need people who will embark on the journey with us for the coming 5 years," added Ali.
As of now, around 95 percent of products being sold on Malamal.xyz are imported from China. Be that as it may, Ali wishes to empower local industrial goods manufacturers. "40 percent of our product line will consist of made in Bangladesh products sold exclusively on our website," he concluded.
To know more about Malamal.xyz, visit https://malamal.xyz/