E-commerce The Future Marketplace -By Tahira Islam


The amount of improvement that has occurred in computer technology in the past half century is truly staggering and unprecedented in other industries. The rise of internet alone has led to the rise of e-commerce as more and more people exchange products and services over the internet. There are many types of e-commerce such a business to consumer (B2C), Business to business (B2B), Consumer to consumer (C2C), Mobile, Social, Local e-commerce. One of the most popular activities over the web now-a-days is shopping. In most countries, e-commerce has been fueled by consumer driven transactions, otherwise known as business to consumer e-commerce.More and more startups are increasingly becoming centered on e-commerce.  This has led to various traditional retailers setting up e-commerce websites so as to regain their market share lost to the e-commerce companies. Some e-commerce companies such as Amazon and eBay which were among the first Internet companies to allow electronic transactions had unprecedented success in this area. Although many e-commerce focused businesses have failed over the years, we can see that this has not discouraged startups to carry out their businesses electronically.
E-commerce became possible when the Internet was opened for commercial usein the year 1991. Key concepts were developed during that time. Although popularity of the Internet began to increase among the general public in 1994, it took approximately four years to develop the security protocols(such as HTTP) and DSL. DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is a technology for bringing high-bandwidth information to homes and small businesses over ordinary copper telephone lines.  Such technology allowed rapid access and a persistent connection to the Internet. In 2000 a great number of business companies in the United States and Western Europe represented their services in the World Wide Web. People began to define the term e-commerce as the process of purchasing of available goods and services over the Internet using secure connections and electronic payment services. Although the dot-com collapse in the year 2000 led to disappearance of many of e-commerce companies but by the end of 2001, Business-to-Business (B2B) which is still considered the largest form of e-commerce had around $700 billion in transactions. According to the available data, e-commerce sales continued to grow in the next few years and by the end of 2007, e-commerce sales accounted for 3.4 percent of total sales worldwide.
Carrying out businesses over the web has some distinct advantages. The web and its internet browsers(such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome) provide a way for the e-commerce companies to be found by customers without expensive advertising campaign. Even small online shops can reach global markets due to availability of the internet all over the world. Web technology also allows businesses to track customer preferences and to deliver individually-tailored marketing. Personalization is one of the most exciting things in online marketing right now. The tracking of customer preferences can be done in several ways. Storing some basic data in cookies is an easy and popular way of letting the user customize look and feel of web application. A cookie is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored in the user’s web browser while the user is browsing. Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember information such as items added in the shopping cart in an online store or to record the user’s browsing activity. E-commerce websites use cookies to store customized preferences that reside in Web client browsers.
Amazon.com is one of the most famous e-commerce companies located in Seattle, Washington. It was founded in 1994.  Amazon is one of the first American e-commerce companies to sell products over the Internet. It was first an online bookstore, later it extended over a variety of goods by adding electronics, software, video games, apparel, footwear, health products, etc.
Another famous name in the e-commerce sector is Alibaba.com. Alibaba is China’s biggest e-commerce company. Founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, a former English teacher from China, Alibaba Group has grown into a global leader in online and mobile commerce. Alibaba is one of the most popular destinations for online shopping in the world’s fastest growing e-commerce market. Alibaba dominates about 80% of China’s online shopping market. The world’s largest e-commerce companies include JD.com, Walmart, Otto group, Tesco, Groupon etc.
E-commerce is quite popular in Bangladesh and its popularity is increasing day by day. If we look at the history of e-commerce in Bangladesh, we have to look at the history of Internet.Internet came to Bangladesh in 1993. Initially, it was Unix-to-Unix Copy Protocol (UUCP) e-mail.  They were replaced by Internet Protocol accounts in 1996.  In 1996 the government of Bangladesh decided to allow private companies to act as Internet Services Providers (ISPs) using VSATs. E-commerce started in Bangladesh in the late 90s. There were few E-commerce websites but there were no system for online transaction. In addition, high cost and lower use of Internet meant that few people knew about these sites. As the availability and affordability of Internet grow in Bangladesh, so it the possibility of conducting commercial transaction over the World Wide Web. Even though e-commerce was introduced at a later stage, it is growing very rapidly.
One of the leading e-commerce companies in Bangladesh is Bikroy.com. It was launched in 2012 and grew into the largest online marketplace in Bangladesh. Bikroy has sections dedicated to private and business advertisements for cars and vehicles, property, electronics, home appliances and personal items, sport and jobs, among others. Advertisers can place their advertisements on the site free of charge.Another pioneer e-commerce site is Rokomari.com. Rokomari is a Bangladeshi Online Shopping Portal. Rokomari.com was launched in 2012 as an online bookstore and it soon started selling eBook and electronic items.  Other large ecommerce sites in Bangladesh includes CellBazaar, ClickBD etc.
E-commerce provides lots of opportunities for consumers and businesses. For consumers, there is an increased availability of information about products and services. Reduced cost from increased competition which in turn results in improved quality, quantity and variety of goods and services through an expanded market has also been beneficial to the consumers. For businesses there is a global medium for marketing, lower distribution and marketingcosts etc. E-commerce sectors in Bangladesh include online banking, online shopping, web hosting, online bill pay etc. For consumers, though e-commerce opens lots of opportunities and saves their valuable time but it also poses some possible threats to mass consumers. Threat include stealing of personal data, theft and fraud by false personification, selling of low quality and inappropriate products over the internet, and selling of sensitive products including drugs in different disguised names. To avoid all these threats, consumers must be conscience and well-conversant in the use of technology before they decide to shop through e-commerce. The e-commerce businesses must ensure security or privacy on online transactions to protect their sites from hacking and fraud.
Even though there still exist a lot of problems in implementing e-commerce in Bangladesh such as intractable problem of poor governance and expensive Internet connectivity with acceptable connectivity and reliability, it’s proven that e-commerce provide people with a lot of tangible advantages. To make e-commerce successful in Bangladesh, governmental initiatives should be takensuch as making Internet affordable to general people. Development of telecommunication infrastructure and change in people’s mindset is also crucial for helping the ecommerce industry to grow in Bangladesh.

Tahira Islam is undergraduate student of CSE at the University of Dhaka.