At the initial stage as a facebook user Afifa Hossain, a private job holder who was then a university student, sometimes felt annoyed when anyone invited her to like a facebook page, especially any page related to online shopping. To her, it was nothing but a way of deceiving people. She never believed that facebook or online can be a platform for selling and buying products as there is no scope of checking the products directly or bargaining about the price of the products. As a result she always avoided such types of pages. But a wave of change has taken away Afifa’s all irritations and opened a new window of opportunity for her. She nowadays finds online shops as a great opportunity for choosing and buying her desired products from a wide range of varieties in a short span of time and without facing the hassle of visiting different markets. Thus shifting from her previous assessment, Afifa now advises her friends and relatives to buy products from reliable online shops. Like Afifa many others are now opting for online shopping and therefore it is gaining popularity among the common people. Besides opening a new door to the entrepreneurs, a new trend of business (online shops) is flourishing in our country with some barriers and limitations.
Online shopping is a way of shopping where a buyer can order any product or service in internet and receive it through the representative of that online shop. Through such online platforms, the virtual world is showing its impact. People are literally living in a virtual world. Online retailing has become a more convenient shopping channel for the consumers because by shopping from online stores shoppers can save their valuable time. This is one of the prime reasons why people want to do online shopping. There are some other reasons which inspire people to shop online. Most of the people who shop online think that it is very convenient to do all shopping from one spot. The internet provides sellers with unlimited space, so they are more likely to offer a wider variety of products. Besides, product reviews and recommendations by the old shoppers help the new buyers to get an idea about the quality of the product or service. Consequently consumers find the system comfortable. In a virtual or online store, there is no salesperson hovering around and pressuring you to purchase an item. Moreover, anyone can compare price of products by visiting different online shopping sites, which ultimately boosts online business and encourages customers to embrace online shopping at the same time.
When you shop online, you need to search a product. This can be done by visiting a store’s website. If you are not aware of any store that has the particular item you are looking for or you would like to verify the price, you can always search for the items with a search engine and compare the results. On major retail websites, companies and merchants have pictures, descriptions and prices of the goods that they have for sale. Depending on the shipping company being used and your location, standard delivery of a product usually takes a day for the capital and two to three days for other parts of the country. For payment you will find some options like eCheck, credit card and cash payment. An eCheck payment option is just like paying directly from your bank account. When you pay by credit card, instead of swiping your card like you would at a brick-and-mortar store, you type the required credit card information into provided fields. Besides, you can make your payment through the representative of the particular company when he/she comes to deliver the product to you.
The advantages of digital retailing are increasing as innovations flood the market. Like other parts of the world online shopping deal in Bangladesh has increased several times over the last few years, thanks to time-saving benefits and growing popularity of internet. The IT ecosystem has improved a lot in Bangladesh along with the demands of the consumers. The country has launched 4G services, eased payment systems and introduced mobile banking. These are actually enhancing the growth of online shopping. A research report has shown that the total number of internet users in Bangladesh was about 8.17 crore by the end of 2017. So, targeting this large number of people, the entrepreneurs become interested on new trend. Fashion and electronic products are currently dominating the online shopping market. And it is gradually expanding and other products are being traded online too.
There are a lot of internet users in Bangladesh who start their internet journey with facebook. And currently more than 90% of the Bangladeshi internet users use facebook. Obviously, facebook has a big impact on online shopping in Bangladesh. Huge numbers of the purchasers visit various websites through facebook. About 60% of the online sales in the country are taking place on facebook. And at present there are more than 3000 active facebook pages which sale products online. Observing the huge business prospect, some multinational online shops like Amazon.com, Alibaba.com and other big players are trying to enter Bangladeshi market.
The big problem of online shops is to deliver their products in the rural areas. Courier services have not reached the union levels yet. To resolve this issue, e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) has signed a deal with the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication to use the post office network for delivering their products. Aiming to bring all the districts and upazilas under the post office network by 2018, the first phase of this system was launched in Dhaka by March this year. ‘Trust’ is another prime issue in this business as lack of trust is considered as one of the most frequently cited reasons by the consumers for not shopping online. Still now some consumers don’t buy goods online due to the risks related to the possibility of credit card fraud. Other reasons for not buying from online include lack of security, lack of physical contact, uncertainty about product quality and distrust of retailer. When paying for your goods online, it can be very easy for someone to intercept sensitive information about credit card number, address, phone number or account number. If the seller is fraudulent, he or she might accept your payment but refuse to send you your item or send you the wrong or a defective product. Trying to rectify an incorrect order with a vendor through the internet can be a hassle.
Finally, for the development of online shopping and e-commerce sector, the government has to incorporate e-commerce in school curriculum first so that children can grow up learning about it. To solve this trust issue, third party certification as contextual factors and company size and demographic variables as other factors can be good options. In the meantime, Bangladesh Bank should formulate policies to ease the loan process for e-commerce entrepreneurs. The government should do something about providing trade license for e-commerce businesses. Currently, trade license is not issued specifically for e-commerce businesses, which makes running such businesses difficult. Besides, there is a huge demand for Bangladeshi products in the global market. But we cannot access the market because of the problems regarding online payment services in Bangladesh. Online sales are not treated as export, but the earnings from that are considered as remittance, which is another problem. To tap into the global market, the government has to reform its regulations regarding online transactions and upgrade the entire system. If the government ensures policy support, the sector will open a new avenue of export.