Shefali Begum is a housewife, living in remote part of Sirajgonj. Her husband and sons have been working abroad for past several years. As of regular activity, she rears and takes proper care of the cattle with her daughter inside their homestead & some cows and goats have been grown-up so that they are apt for sale. Eid-ul-Azha is not too far to happen this year and she thinks to sell them in cattle market of town for greater benefit. As she has no man to undertake this job, knowing by her neighbor, all she is set to rely on ‘Online Cattle-trading Platform’. After successful sale she is happy and free from worry.
This is the scenario of last 3-4 years. ‘Bengal Meat’ is well known in cities for this service. They and other sites post for sale on their website’s dashboard in request of farmers & agro firm. To some extent, these shops collect cattle 2 or 3 months prior to Eid and then sell to their customers. They feed nutritious ones unlike dishonest traders pushing medicine and steroid tablet to maintain goodwill. Seeing photos of sacrificial cattle buyers pick of their preferable color, weight, height and price range and place order on the websites. Sacrificals are delivered within 3 or 4 days to the address or buyer himself can collect from farmers.While women can’t go to haat due to hassle, all they get privilege to buy according to choices. Hence, this market is growing fast, and customers are satisfied with the services.
Whenever we place purchase order of any product seeing photos & description from online marketplace or plenty of pages on Facebook, and pay through our credit/debit cards or cash, we take part in online shopping. Such web based buy and sale is known best as e-commerce. Internet e-commerce took off with the arrival of the World Wide Web and browsers in the early1990s and the liberalization of the telecommunication sector and innovations greatly expanded the volume and capacity of communications today, for a few thousand dollars, anyone can become a merchant and reach millions of consumers world-wide. Such trends already under way, such as electronic banking, direct booking of travel, and one-to-one marketing, will be accelerated because of electronic commerce. E-commerce over the Internet vastly increases interactivity in the economy. People will increasingly have the ability to communicate and transact business anywhere, anytime. This will have a profound impact. Even though some Web sites cost hundreds of millions of dollars, simpler sites can be designed and constructed for tens of thousands. In general, it is less expensive to maintain a cyber-storefront than a physical one because it is always “open”, has a global market, and has fewer variable costs.
In Bangladesh, online business started widely in 2011 after Bangladesh Bank, the nation’s national bank started allowing on the web exchanges. Online market sells a wide scope of items beginning from short-lived products like fish, meat, and vegetable to basic food items, garments, furniture, beauty care products and even motorcar. At present, Dhaka, Chattogram and Gazipur represent 80 percent of online deals. Facebook remains a famous technique for promoting and offering items, to a point that numerous organizations renounce making sites. A report by e-cab (Ecommerce Association of Bangladesh (e-Cab), the body for e-commerce in Bangladesh) shows ten billion taka in exchanges on e-commerce every year. Online business keeps on demonstrating solid development and has been impacting the social and monetary development of countries. This sector is transacting about 700 crore taka per month which is more than 8000 crore annually. Vice president of e-cab, Rezwanul Haque Jami informed that almost 7,500 organizations and 8,000 facebook pages are engaged with online sales and marketing. Almost all categories of product are dealt online including rotting vegetables, electronics and cloths.
Daraz is leading E-commerce site in Bangladesh right now, majority of which owned by its Chinese encounter Ali baba. Ajkerdeal, Bagdoom, Pickaboo, Bikroy.com, othoba priyo shop and so many of them are introduced to people. With the advent fast internet access, online shopping got its popularity among us. A number of customers have been increased manifold over the years. City-dwellers are no more inclined to move to markets. Instead, saving wastage of time and relieving from sufferings of traffic gridlock, one click purchase has been their reliance. In past three years growth of e-commerce sector was immensely uprising. Each year this sector doubled previous year. Due to rapid growth and huge public response, largest e-commerce site Amazon expressed their eagerness to partake in Bangladesh. Recently biggest e-commerce organization ‘Quvi has already been entered in.
In our traditional market structure, farmer and producer don’t have market information time to time and usually are deprived of fair price. Middlemen and syndicate grab the majority of price consumer pay. Farmers even are failed to cover cost of production let alone their livelihood and subsistence. Recently, countrymen experienced the occurrence of ‘farmers burning their lands overflown with grief, overwhelmed with agony’. As most of poor farmers and tailors are unable to deliver their crops & garments to city market lacking transportation facilities as well as communication gap, there is a huge gap between consumers and its producers. In online trading system, producers of country’s remote areas like panchagar, kurigram are themselves sellers and thus reach the customers across the countries directly ensuring fair price which was unbelievable even a decade ago. This incentive promoted in large scale their mindset to work and produce resulting in greater output and higher economy growth of country.
Manpower involved with cottage industry couldn’t get their market which led to oblivion of this hundred-year old traditional craft. But now it’s a beautification of our drawing rooms and offices, adorned with magnificent furniture and showpieces. Giftcard, basket, carpet, flowerpot etc are of extensive textures and creative artwork made rural women rich. Their embroidered and woven cloth that fits our bodies is uprising in large extent. All over the world handicraft and cottage demand is increasing rapidly. In 2017, handicraft artwork valued at 500 billion dollar in global market.
‘Bagdoom’, Bangladeshi online marketplace deserves special thanks for its initiative ‘Krishti’ project at very beginning of 2018 aiming to help pastoral women in their creative handicraft profession and saving heritage of golden fiber in collaboration with WEESMS (Women’s Economic Empowerment through Strengthening Market Systems). They act not only as trading platform but also support financially the entrepreneurs and arrange workshops for newbies. They have a dedicated team for designing, marketing and supply chain management of handicraft products. Hundreds of women have become self-independent joining their project. In Bagdoom’s website, there is differentiated page for every craft woman and uploading the photo of their products at sales dashboard they are directly linked with customers.
On one hand, E-commerce technologies have helped nations to accelerate their economic growth and to provide more opportunities for businesses to grow, but it has also created many challenges and effects across numerous domains of society, and for policy makers.The development of the business has been restrained by low use of credit and debit cards and the inaccessibility or limitations on major online exchange destinations like PayPal. In March 2017, Bangladesh’s national bank offered authorization to state-possessed Sonali Bank to dispatch online cash move administrations with PayPal within country. In 2013, the Bangladesh Bank allowed the buy and clearance of merchandise and enterprises web based utilizing worldwide credit cards. Whatever the steps were taken, online trading is still lacking reliable payment system. Therefore, Unlike foreign countries ecommerce is in rudimentary stage as most of people transact cash though placed order online which is called ‘cash-on delivery’.
In Bangladesh, buyers ‘through online trading platform’ are having bitter experience. Few months ago, an occurrence published in daily newspaper that a man from Sirajgonj placed an order of Huawei mobile phone of specific model. To his misfortune! He received a wheel soap packed inside the parcel while dispatched by courier service. Asked to courier, they replied that it was miscreation by merchant company. These are very frequent scenario showing fraudulent role of merchants. Recently, a women received very cheap discolored ‘sharee’ instead of rare printed boutique.
If it continues for some years, surely e-commerce will encounter rapid collapse as public get apathy with it. 70% of people trade online are living in towns. Ecab should take initiative of publicity and introduction of one click purchase and easy transaction to rural community. Government’s responsible authority, Judiciary and law enforcement agencies have to implement the penalty by-code and make exemplary punishment very soon so that dishonest traders think second time before their deceptive merchandising. Tech-savvy customers should be more careful about their privacy protection.
The writer is the freelance contributor on national & international issues.