The E-commerce scene is growing rapidly in Bangladesh and there is great growth potential. However, the bubble could burst if the ventures are unplanned and unimaginative, speakers said in the BASIS seminar Saturday.
A good example of success online is shajgoj.com, a popular beauty startup in Bangladesh that began its journey around 2012 as a content website providing information about personal care.
The company established its first brick and mortar outlet in Dhaka back in 2015. Two years later the company began taking orders online, usually around 15 per day.
It has now become one of the biggest e-commerce companies in the country, receiving more than 600 orders per day. The company delivers products across Bangladesh.
With eighty employees, Shajgoj.com presently has two outlets in two of the capital's busiest shopping malls – Shimanto Square and Jamuna Future Park.
This venture is the brainchild of three young entrepreneurs, who planned to start their own business in Bangladesh while studying abroad.
Sinthia Sharmin Islam, co-founder and chief communication officer (CCO) of Shajgoj.com, is one of the three founder and also a pharmacist.
Speaking at a BASIS seminar at International Convention Centre Bashundhara on Saturday, Sinthia said, "We want a 10 percent share of the personal care market in Bangladesh. The country's market size is around $2.5 billion per year. Shajgoj has already received funding from a Singapore based company."
Shajgoj.com is not alone in finding success in the relatively new e-commerce sphere in Bangladesh. Other e-commerce startups such as food delivery and online shopping services are also finding eager consumers.
Currently, there are more than 2,000 local e-commerce companies that are providing online shopping, various services and consultancy to customers. Annual transaction in the e-commerce sector is more than Tk2,000 crore annually.
Besides promising growth, there are some challenges which are preventing the sector from moving ahead, said speakers at the third seminar of BASIS SoftExpo 2020, which kicked off on February 6.
Those challenges include a lack of local financing and proper education, keeping the startup as a second option, not keeping good accounting records and unrealistic expectation about profits.
The seminar was moderated by M Asif Rahman, the founder and chief executive officer of ARCom, an online website developing company.
In his welcome presentation, he said, "In 2019, the sector received around $15 million as investment, which is $12 million less compared to 2018. However, last year the sector witnessed a huge local investment of $6 million, which was only $2 million in 2018.
Among other speakers, ADCOMM's Managing Director Nazim Farhan Choudhury, Co-founder of Hungrynaki, Ahmad AD and Bangladesh Angels' CEO Nirjhor Rahman spoke at the seminar.
ADCOMM's Managing Director Nazim Farhan Choudhury said that in the next two to three years, some startups could come up with some unique ideas and grab the market.
"The bubble of new investments in the e-commerce sector could burst due of unplanned and uncreative ventures."
Mentioning the digital market for food delivery service, Co-founder of Hungrynaki Ahmad said that the market sought a change in the consumers' behavior, and the change has happened quickly. However, there is more room for growth.
He continued, "Around 60 million people live in Dhaka and other metropolitan cities, and they are the target consumer of online food delivery services. City dwellers place around 30,000-35,000 food orders per day. Meanwhile, residents of six major cities in India place around 2.5 million food order daily.
"In China, 100 million food deliveries are made each day."
Ahmed suggested reform some rules and regulations to allow e-commerce companies to utilise bond facilities.
In the concluding remark, BASIS President Syed Almas Kabir said, "Still we have a lot of opportunities to explore in a startup business in Bangladesh. BASIS and I have always appreciated young entrepreneurs who want to make their career in this sector."
Among others, Chief Executive Officer of City Capital Ershad Hossain spoke at the programme.