We weren’t economically or medically prepared to face the COVID -19 pandemic when the nationwide lockdown was declared. But technology helped us to find different ways to communicate, shop and do work from home office. E-commerce is one of the less affected businesses during the lockdown. According to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), the number of internet users in the country was 9.37 crore till April 2019. Moreover, thirty-one million people are using smartphones. Thus, it is the right time to move a business online to reach out to customers digitally.
There were 2,500 e-commerce business sites and 150,000 e-commerce pages until 2018. After the lockdown, people have become more concerned about convenience while purchasing products. M-commerce (Mobile Commerce) and F-Commerce (Facebook Commerce) are popular in the e-business world. According to a media report, at present, there are approximately 2,000 e-commerce sites and 50,000 Facebook-based outlets delivering almost 30,000 products a day. According to the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), the e-business industry in the country is now worth BDT 8,000 crore. The social distancing time period has shown us the necessity of having an online presence for a business.Besides, entrepreneurs who adopted to an e-commerce framework earlier are at lesser risk of business shutdown. Eventually, some e-commerce ventures are witnessing a surge in online traffic as traditional consumers are also opting for alternatives. Especially, e-commerce sites which are offering daily essentials, grocery items, food items, medicine, and healthcare products have a huge rise in online customers. Although, the lockdown has slowdown the consumer-behavior of fashion item business, real estate business, IT services, etc.
The traditional retailers can run their business in smaller clusters where delivery and transport will not be a big problem. Though, the rise of lack of professional deliverymen emerged in the current situation but evolving the unemployed lower-class people with safety directives and equipment may help to run the business as usual. It will also help both the party to financially survive.
One of the major problems is above sixty five percent of e-commerce companies are in Dhaka and Chattogram. Most of the e-commerce companies fail to reach all parts of the country due to poor infrastructure and inability to access remote areas for lack of adequate transport facilities. Meanwhile, e-commerce for cross border business to consumers is an unexploited area in Bangladesh. Retail export business to consumer (B2C) through e-commerce websites needs more attention to grow in cross-border. In this case, trade associations can take the lead to promote retail exports by preparing a well-planned module while linking e-commerce sites for receiving orders with payment by international cards.
However, the government is now helpful towards e-commerce ventures so that they can run their business without any hindrances during this lockdown period and beyond. Even though the government removes lockdown, still people will be more inclined towards online shopping rather than going to a crowded physical marketplace. So, consumer-buying behavior is going to change for a long time period, which means it is the right time to start or develop the e-commerce business with the integration of technology.