The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Fast-forwarded the Future of eCommerce

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May 29, 2020

While the business of almost all verticals is down, the number of first time ecommerce shoppers has grown many times in the first quarter of 2020. 

A number of online grocery businesses we spoke with in the past few weeks reported a sharp rise in orders from new users who never ordered on their platforms before. 

While physical retail continues to suffer and is unlikely to rebound any time soon, the coronavirus pandemic has fast-forwarded the future of ecommerce in Bangladesh by multiple years. 

This is not to say that physical retail is about to die. Physical retail will remain. In fact, a large part of business is unlikely to dramatically change and transform into digital businesses. But the fact that the internet usage has exploded and that people are looking up things online, using digital tools and services are some indisputable facts. And I'm positive that some of these behavioral changes will stick around and be lasting consumer trends in the foreseeable future. 


There are certain verticals that are gaining consumer trust and benefiting from mass consumer adoption due to the pandemic lockdown. 

Take, for instance, online grocery. The companies like Chaldal and Khaas Food have seen unprecedented rise in the number of orders to the extent that most online grocery companies have already got a bad rap for not being able to fulfill orders on time. 

There are supply chain challenges behind not being able to fulfil orders but a sudden rise in the number of orders is also a meaningful factor behind the customer service failure that many digital commerce companies are facing. 

There are other verticals that are seeing an uptick in adoption and demand such as online learning. While lacking a prominent market leader as yet, almost every player in the vertical has gained added traction that can be traced back to the pandemic changes. 

Overall, digital commerce has gained new customers as well as exposure to new segments of users who would otherwise have taken a long time to come to digital commerce. This is true across verticals in digital commerce. And the sudden boom is likely to sustain in the coming years and accelerate the growth of ecommerce and digital businesses in the coming years in Bangladesh. 


Lessons from the past


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Ruhul Kader is a technology and business analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, technology policy, and society. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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