In the years to come, we will look back at 2020 as the year that changed everything. The series of lockdowns and movement restrictions led to a surge in electronic commerce and augmented the digital transformation of the country.
Amid the decelerating traditional economic activities, businesses and consumers increasingly went digital, allowing the purchase of more goods and services through online platforms. Several studies have demonstrated the strong uptake of e-commerce across the globe, especially consumers in emerging economies making the most significant shift to online shopping.
Although the deadly virus locked the entire world inside homes, that does not mean the demands have gone off the market. Entrepreneurs and business leaders across the world opted for online selling and have been doing exceptionally well.
The e-commerce sector is thriving in Bangladesh and is expected to hit the $3 billion mark by 2023. In fact, e-commerce grew in leaps and bounds during the pandemic. Shoppers began by filling online carts with groceries, medicines and eventually got accustomed to every item of requirement arriving on their doorsteps.
Apart from the fact that consumers spend an extraordinary amount of time with digital devices, they are also using them at an unprecedented rate to engage with the brand that they support. In the past, a brand that wanted to connect with prospects would invest in newspaper or billboard advertisements.
Nowadays, consumers use digital platforms to actively seek out businesses, causing a shift of control from the companies to the consumer. With new technology allowing consumers to make purchases with full exposure, new issues are arising each day.
Regardless of the technological advantages in terms of speed, accuracy, ease and reduction in transaction or processing costs, consumers face many challenges and application barriers. Concerns like privacy breaches, lack of original identification of the buyers and sellers and confidentiality provisions can cause discomfort and distress among consumers.
In terms of business activities, the application of the Internet and technological devices is increasing exponentially, especially due to the ongoing global emergency. Therefore, consumers must continue their vigilance and educate themselves regarding all aspects of online shopping.
In short, consumer education can be twofold: awareness of the rights as a consumer and the application of those rights and responsibilities if businesses exploit and/or infringe on their rights.
Consumer awareness is a process where consumers shield themselves from marketplace exploitation by gaining enough information about goods and services by practicing their consumer rights.
The process involves successfully educating themselves about their rights and responsibilities to ensure utmost safety and protection. Educated consumers understand the full potential of these rights while gradually migrating to new or more sophisticated usage of them.
Likewise, consumer awareness ensures that buyers and consumers are aware of the information about products, goods, services, and consumers' rights.
It allows a consumer to achieve maximum satisfaction at the best price and protects them in the marketplace from all sorts of exploitation that the producers and sellers might indulge in. Moreover, it protects consumers from consuming large quantities of harmful products and enables society to thrive.
On one hand, it is compulsory for consumers to remain alert and go through the policies of online platforms carefully.
Looking through the extensive how-to guide sections of the company websites can answer most, if not all, questions they might have while onboarding their product. Afterward, the advanced questions that remain unanswered are better directed to a customer support employee or customer success manager.
The increased level of awareness and security concerning e-commerce platforms enhances the relative peace of an individual while being in the virtual space or in the process of buying from an e-commerce site.
The resulting comfort may help consumers to identify and have faith in the capabilities of the current system and their adherence to the commercial, behavioral, legal, and technical principles connected to the right deals.
On the other hand, entrepreneurs and e-commerce platforms should take necessary actions as well if they want to stand out from the crowd.
Building an e-commerce platform relies on the products that are being sold and the financial elements of the business. It also depends heavily on customer awareness.
This is a two-way relationship. Entrepreneurs are aiming at spreading the word about their brand and increasing their sales. Consumers are looking for the best value for their money, accompanied by safety and security.
Consequently, e-commerce leaders must consider both sides of the medal and work hard to meet their own professional goals and simultaneously fulfill their customers' expectations.
Trust is the pillar of e-commerce. In a marketplace, there should be transparency among consumers and businesses for a trusted buying and selling experience.
Understanding the responsibilities as a consumer is essential to learn about digital shopping for better usage. Consumers must make an effort in choosing the proper platform for the most hassle-free shopping experience.
Md. Tajdin Hassan is the Chief Marketing Officer at Daraz Bangladesh Limited.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.