Digital commerce has been gaining growing momentum in Bangladesh for quite some time. While the industry has a long way to go, many estimates suggest that the industry is at an inflection point. A number of players, both small and big, are pushing the market using a combination of discounts, a greater collection of products, aggressive communication, and incrementally better customer service. While the market is far from where we can call a single player the most dominant, there is an incremental consolidation taking place as well. Globally there is a long-held perception that digital platforms often have a winner takes all effect.
A 2019 report from data analytics platform Shared Today offers some support for the idea in the context of Bangladesh and suggest that Daraz and Evaly are the two most talked-about ecommerce companies on social media in Bangladesh, with Daraz having 67.8% share of voice followed by Evaly with a share of voice of 21.3%. The report titled Bangladesh’s eCommerce Industry in 2019 tracked and analyzed some 1.7 million engagement posts industry-wide across social media platforms.
Shared Today is a data analytics and social listening platform developed by Loosely Coupled Technologies. The platform applies social listening, collects and analyzes social media data from platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and media reports from publications to understand public sentiments about products and companies.
The perception about eCommerce remains tentative in public minds. 1 out of 3 conversations eventually matures into sales. The report found that 72% of users who visit ecommerce sites eventually don’t buy anything. 48% customers find difficulty understanding communications from eCommerce companies. Hence, there is a general understanding of mismatch.
Customers remain price sensitive. The report found that clear price advantage is the biggest driver of customer growth. This validates the realities of the market. Daraz as well as Evaly, albeit probably not at the extent of Daraz, the two leading players, have been offering deep discounts and a myriad of price benefits to customers. However, the companies are yet to find a sustainable approach to offering price benefits to customers.
There is significant dissatisfaction regarding customer service offered by ecommerce companies. The report further found that delays in delivery and mismatch between promise and delivery in product quality are some of the points consumers react most negatively. This has in fact negatively affected the overall customer adaptation of ecommerce in Bangladesh.
So what ecommerce companies in Dhaka should do next? Companies should find ways to offer competitive prices at scale and that too consistently. To that end, there are already complaints regarding deep discounting from players like Daraz and deep discounting is not always a sustainable strategy either. One widely held view is that customer service remains a key challenge for ecommerce companies in Dhaka, particularly on-time delivery. Unless the challenge is addressed, the market is likely to remain limited.