In Bangladesh office supply is a big business. There are hundreds of different businesses doing this supply business in different forms. For an office, managing this supplies is quite a challenging job. The process, in a manual world, is quite cumbersome, untransparent, slow and unpredictable. Companies usually work with a number of vendors for their office supplies. The problem with this process is simple: it is time consuming, inefficient and you can’t control the experience.
Sindbad.com, the first online B2B ecommerce platform in Bangladesh, taps into this opportunity and builds a friction-less experience for B2B customers. “The idea is that anything and everything that an office needs - usual operational and consumable items - can be bought from sindabad.com,” says Zeeshan Kingshuk Huq, CEO of the company.” It means you wouldn’t have to go from vendor to vendor and spend a lot of time worrying and communicating with vendors. Go to Sindabad website, select products, and get your orders delivered to your office.
Sindabad.com has now over 8,000 products which addresses almost 80% of the total product needs of any company, or office said Zeeshan. The platform currently offers products in categories such as housekeeping, stationery, office supplies, electrical, IT, and safety and security equipments.
How it works
Sindabad.com sources the frequent items from multiple, reliable merchants, and deliver to clients when there are orders. The company maintains its own inventories and also do dropship services.
It also works with existing brands that offer products for offices as their e-commerce channel partner, in a more like marketplace model. “We bring the products from our partners like Reckitt Benckiser, Ispahani and others and keep in our warehouse,” says Zeeshan Kingshuk Huq. The company maintains a mid-sized warehouse in Pragati Sarani, and in the process of opening 2 more: one being over 20,000 sft warehouse.
One of the key distinctions between a b2c website and sindabad.com is that, you can’t buy one piece of almost anything and you always get a price advantage. “We try to serve our clients at wholesale price, so we ask for a bulk quantity order,” says Zeeshan. The reason behind is that a business house doesn't need only one unit of these products; they usually need more than one.”
The startup plans to launch a subscription service with other facilities with a short period of time. Currently, it has three separate packages: platinum, gold, and silver. “We want to include credit system in the new subscription model because we realize that businesses want different sorts of credit terms,” says Zeeshan. “We will also offer reduced delivery costs and preferential rates to subscribers.”
Growth and pains
Sindabad.com officially launched in June 2016. In less than 6 months into operations, the company has grown at an average rate of approximately 35% month-on-month. It serveed more than 200 clients and 30% of these companies shop on its platform on a regular basis. “Our average order sizes are at five digit figure at this point. The market has been growing for us,” says Zeeshan.
The startup employs 40 people and expects to reach break-even within the 4th year that is 2019.
That said, marketing and customer education remains the key challenges for the company. “It is hard to make customers and organizations understand about the benefits of taking a more efficient system,” says Zeeshan.
Competition and advantage
Although there is no B2B ecommerce company in the market yet, offline market for the space is presumably much greater and follows a more intricate process. B2B businesses often depends on long term relationship which is quite difficult to break. Moreover, it is hard to market to the target audience in the space given that mostly CEOs and procurement managers take care of the purchases.
Currently, sindabad.com tries to reach out to its target audience through digital platforms and also maintains a sales team which pursues target customers on a regular basis.
The company claims to have a competitive advantage over other players in the market. “We are offering you a one-stop destination for all your office cash-purchase needs,” says Zeeshan. “You don't need to go to numerous different places to purchase different types of products. And everything is delivered at your business premise!”