If, after 30 years, my grandchildren asked me to explain the term bolt out of the blue, then I would undoubtedly tell them, ” Dear, it’s the synonym of COVID-19″. With my vigor, I would apprise about the anecdotes which not only jeopardized my home country’s economy but rather created a hassle for the whole world. I still can’t clasp that an invisible virus has done all this and how we humans got defeated before it. It hurled us to an unwanted quarantine and propelled us to embrace the isolation. In the end, I really can say that these yarns have shoved deep inside the mind of this generation, which no matter how much we try, we really can’t elope.
But no matter the circumstances, I must admit some players know how to stand out and work as a solvent to the crisis. In this pandemic, those players were platforms associated with digital technology. I mean, who would have imagined that Netflix paid subscribers would have accelerated to 16 million just in the first three months of quarantine. While zoom market value would surge to $140 million US dollars. I don’t think these platforms themselves have predicted such a surge, let alone others.
Like all the digital platforms, e-commerce was also a crude player who has seen this pandemic crisis as an ideal opportunity and knew how to grasp it to secure a lasting position in the heart of people worldwide. The scenario was not significantly different in Bangladesh
Though e-commerce had a fair growth rate in our country, it still was not the first shopping choice. As we Banglalis (native term of Bangladeshi) don’t have a tendency to spend our money until we are very sure about the thing we are buying. So no matter what for significant expenditure we mostly preferred the traditional buying methods. But quarantine meant the conclusion to all of them. So it was time when people had to come out of our cocoons and calibrate with the digital sector. Though at first people were using social media platforms to escape their boredom, they soon started using them to buy their daily necessities. We already had more than 2000 e-commerce sites and 50000 Facebook based outlets, delivering 30000 products every day. Things started to get buzzed up when local shop owners and students began to add up with that. Resulting in the existing number doubling up. According to a report of Digital2020: Bangladesh, the internet penetration rate increased by 41%, whereas the online sales were expedited by 70 to 80 percent. What a leap, right?
Why do people go so gaga over it?
Local shoppers didn’t have any option. I mean, all malls were closed, and digital media was left as the only recourse for selling their products. So they had to embrace the online platforms to save their business. But for students, the story was slightly different. In Bangladesh, students don’t have a vast option of getting involved with part-time jobs. Most of the time, if any student wants to earn some financial earnings, they go for home tutoring. But as we all know, quarantine had given a full stop to that. Figuring e-commerce as the most fitted alternative, many students got on the platform to explore their entrepreneurship devour. Within a short period hundreds of students were on it with varieties of product.
Munia Ahsan Mouri, a 1st-year undergrad student at the University of Dhaka, shares her story by stating, “Though I was very passionate about having a bakery of my own, my family was not very supportive of it. They thought it could hamper my studies and a huge responsibility to proceed. But this quarantine worked as a golden opportunity for me. As I had plenty of free time at my hand, I was finally able to start an online bakery of my own. Guess what? This time my family was supportive, and the response I got from everyone was very encouraging.”
The bottom line here is that e-commerce gives everyone a platform where they can easily gain entrepreneurial status without much caring about logistics and resources. It doesn’t limit itself to the traditional stigma where one is born with a silver spoon for starting a business. In a country like Bangladesh where most of the businesses face a fund crisis for their operation, it’s the best medium to build one endeavor.
This quarantine was the perfect tempo where both the merchants and consumers got to explore the attributes of e-commerce. That explains why it was this popular in the pandemic. According to the e-commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), in 2021, Bangladesh’s e-commerce market might even reach 70 billion. Not to mention at present more than 4 lakh women entrepreneurs of our country are producing and selling goods on it. According to several published reports in the upcoming five years, this sector might generate full-time employment for 5 lakh people. The number of internet users has surged to 99 million, and 40% of our population are the younger generation who are adaptable to technology or the digital sector. The silver line is, it is the most prospective industry to entrust.
But there is some restraint which we can’t ignore. Bangladesh still doesn’t have a proper legislature to control e-commerce functions. Many shoppers are taking the liberty of this fact and causing consumer discontent. Every day we hear stories of online fraudulent and delayed execution of service. We still don’t have a safe payment system, and international transactions are mostly restricted. Moreover, we don’t have implicit marketing methods because of which many of our e-commerce platforms are not getting their deserved recognition.
With the hope that one day all these limitations will find a solution and Bangladesh e-commerce will be taken on the next level, I am signing myself off.