Today, e-Commerce is not a luxury but a necessity. The entire world is moving away from traditional offline retail toward online retail. For the last two decades, Bangladesh is undergoing this shift. e-Commerce can play a big role in creating a strong market for locally produced goods.
Why we need to create an e-Commerce industry for locally produced goods and commodities?In today’s world economically developed countries make sure that their local goods have a strong online presence. The Government of Bangladesh undertook various initiatives to make Bangladesh a middle income economy in near future. In order to achieve this goal, we must develop the e-commerce industry for local goods.
We need a strong e-Commerce industry for locally produced goods for the following reasons:
Countrywide movement of local produce: e-Commerce would enable farmers and local goods manufacturers of one district to sell to the people of other districts. People of one district can easily procure goods produced in other districts. Hence, e-Commerce has a key role to play in the growth of markets for local goods and commodities.
Job creation: The growth of local goods’ e-Commerce industry will translate into more job creation thus decreasing unemployment.
Cross border e-Commerce: With a strong e-Commerce industry for local goods, we can get into cross border e-Commerce and earn foreign currency through export. It would also improve the image of Bangladeshi products in the international market.
Challenges of the e-Commerce industry for local goods: We need well-planned marketing and promotional activities for locally produced goods. The more we promote the more sells it would generate. At present, there is no strong push from the government to develop e-Commerce market for local goods. Entrepreneurs who are working with local goods require training and other assistance but they are not getting any. Delivery is another major problem. Many rural entrepreneurs do not have access to good quality courier service providers. As a result, they are not earning much revenue.Steps we need to take to develop e-Commerce market for local goods.
Government assistance: Government should provide assistance and play a big role in this regard. I already talked about the necessity of proper training for e-Commerce entrepreneurs who are selling local goods online. Experienced entrepreneurs need assistance to scale up their operations. Government can provide loans on easy terms and other financial support to motivate them.
Media promotion: Promotion of local products in the print and local media will go a long way in developing the market for local products. Publishing feature articles, making documentaries, organizing talk shows are effective ways to increase awareness and develop a strong market for local goods.
Initiatives for Educational institutions: Universities should encourage its students to create clubs on local products. In this way when we shall be able to create a separate community for local products everyone will get interested. e-Commerce should be included in SSC, HSC and university curriculum. If a person knows about e-Commerce from his or her school or college then it would be easy for him to get involved in this industry. They can develop their own online business selling local products.
Startup funding: Startup funding will further motivate young entrepreneurs to get into this sector. Hence, there should be more public and private funding initiatives for entrepreneurs who are working with Bangladeshi products. This would further improve the e-Commerce industry for local products.
Improving last mile delivery: We must improve our last mile delivery infrastructure at district and sub-district so that people can easily make online purchases. Delay, or other complications in delivery, is the major cause for people losing interest in online shopping. We must make sure that products purchased online are delivered timely to the customer.
e-Commerce is the new normal of life now. Starting a traditional business requires huge capital whereas e-Commerce has no such limitations. Hence, this can be a great tool for young entrepreneurs who want to develop their own e-Commerce business.
(The writer is the owner and founder of Kakoly’s Attire)