We have got a new online ticketing service this month, Bdtickets.com. From now on you can book and buy tickets online and get them delivered to your place via Bdtickets. The value proposition is obvious: get tickets hassle free, from anywhere.
We are excited because online ticketing is a pretty interesting space. The market size is big and if it works you can sprawl around by moving into other spaces like booking hotels, adding more ticketing options etc. Until recently, the space was relatively less crowded. Before Bdtickets.com, Shohoz.com-another online ticketing startup, was the only serious player in online ticketing space. We have come to know few other platforms like imdhaka.com and ticketchai.com with different business models and service offerings. There are few other small and not so serious players with differences.
We wanted to make this post all about Bdtickets. Unfortunately, there is only too many things to explain about Bdtickets.com. The service is simple and indeed a very essential one. The business model is nothing tricky. However, we are interested in one aspect: product. Once we first heard about Bdtickets, we expected they would come up with a different product strategy. To be more explicit, we expected a mobile first approach for two reasons: 1. target customers for this service live on mobile devices now 2. mini screen is the future of web traffic. But we were wrong. Bdtickets started with a desktop first approach.
It simply reproduced Shohoz.com with few weak tweaks. We spent hours to find distinction between Bdtickets.com and Shohoz.com and unfortunately, we could not find that many except few trifles. We are aware that there is not much to do since two businesses are offering almost similar services but you could at least make distinction in your service delivery approach. It was unnecessary to copy all menu bars from Shohoz's website and put those with few place and word tweaking. In fact, Bdtickets could have done something better than launching just yet another Shohoz.com website. It could have launched an app instead of a website or put together a website significantly different than Shohoz.com at least in one little way.
This similarity is disgusting. More so when two businesses are operating in the same market and competing for the same customers. It shows weakness and for startups showcasing weakness is a sign of complacency and carelessness. We know Bdtickets has big backup and it is powered by Robi but ultimately, none of these will decide its fate but customers impression.
As we said before, potential of online ticketing is huge, given the proliferation of mobile phones and the growth of internet users. According to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), the total number of Internet users topped 45 million in 2015, up from 36 million in previous year. And a significant number of this number use internet via mobile phones making it extremely important a device.
More than five million people leave Dhaka on any given big occasion like Eid, making it huge pressure on transportation providers and authority to maintain the load. Before and after leaving Dhaka, one common headache for most people is uncertainty whether they would be able to get a ticket. Due to unprecedented demand people often book tickets weeks ahead of their journey and most of the time it takes hours to buy a ticket due to traffic and long queue. Such is the demand of tickets and this is a real problem to solve.
Everything is BDjobs, BDjobs is everything
Early this year, we published a commentary on copycat culture in Dhaka. In that piece we tried to understand what happened in our online Job portal sector. After BDjobs's success, every other job sites that came just tried hard to become another BDjobs. Consequence: failure. It was (is) not that there was/is no space for another online job portal. There is space for another online job portal but not for another BDjobs. If your goal is to become another BDjobs.com then you better think twice.
Such is the truth for almost all other sectors. You must differentiate yourself is a significant way to survive in the market.
Bdtickets.com is a brilliant initiative. It has a solid business model which is already proven. But it has to be authentic to live up to that business model.