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Online shopping picking up in Bangladesh

41Online shopping has picked up in just a few years in Bangladesh—and is likely to touch the Tk 200 million mark in the rundown to this Eid-ul-Fitr, according to the E-Commerce Alliance of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS).

BASIS is optimistic this could grow further in future.

This is because online shopping is hassle-free even before festivals like Eid when markets are overcrowded and shops fleece customers by charging more than usual rates.

And like in neighbouring India or China, shoppers get goods cheaper because portals save on not having expensive retail outlets and try passing on that price benefit to customers.

Farhana Nancy, who works with a TV channel, has been shopping for clothes online for the last two years.

“It takes a lot of time to negotiate the traffic in Dhaka and visit shops and malls. It’s better shopping online,” she told bdnews24.com.

Businessman Mashuk-e-Elahi barely has time to take his family shopping.

“My wife manages internet well. She orders online and the products are delivered at my shop. She has done some of her Eid shopping online this year.”

But there are perils of buying online.

Raihanul Ferdous Shahrin, who works with an international organisation, is yet to receive the dress she ordered for Eid at an online shopping site. “The site does not deliver outside Dhaka. So I gave them an address in the city, but I am yet to get it.”

Afsana Sumi is one of those who sell clothes online in Bangladesh.  She sells apparels and accessories for women through her Facebook page ‘Gutipoka’.

“Eid-time sales are good this year. Most of our customers are young and working.”

‘Bangladesh Brands’, an online marketplace for branded products, says their sales are better than last year.

“Almost 40 to 50 percent of our orders are from abroad. We deliver products to Bangladeshi expatriates in the US, Australia. We have no plans to go for a physical outlet,” said Enamul Haque, who is the director of the venture run by Future Solutions of Business Ltd.

He says they expect Eid-time sales to be something between Tk 5.5 to 6 million this year.

Haque emphasises the need for some kind of regulation and monitoring mechanism for the sector.

“A lot of online sites deliver sub-standard products to customers. I myself have been cheated while buying a watch from an online site.

“We pay taxes. But if the online shopping portals are mismanaged, the sector will suffer,” said Haque.

BASIS says that the online market places have a huge potential in Bangladesh.

“In China and India, 2 to 10 percent of the total shopping is now done online, but our share in Bangladesh is not even 0.001 percent. We think there’s a huge potential, especially outside Dhaka”, said its E-Commerce Alliance’s Convener Fahim Mashrur.

Mashrur, who runs online market place ‘Ajker Deal’, however, says delivering outside Dhaka is still a ‘big issue’ and recommends partnering up with courier services operating in Bangladesh.