PriyoShop, the Dhaka-based ecommerce startup, seeks to expand its agent-led ecommerce model significantly in the coming years. The company says it currently has over 10,000 agents who help the company generate sales on its platform in exchange for a commission. The company now seeks to grow the number of agents to 50,000 to grow both its potential reach and orders, reports the Daily Star. PriyoShop has been on a roll of late. The company graduated from the Singapore-based accelerator program Accelerating Asia last. It has since raised a significant amount of investment from multiple investors in Bangladesh and across South East Asia.
While the majority of ecommerce companies continue to focus on urban customers, PriyoShop has deliberately put forward a strategy targeting the customers in rural areas across Bangladesh. The company, in fact, started to call the strategy: rural ecommerce. As part of the shift, it has built partnerships with a number of government and private organizations with an ambition to grow its coverage and improve distribution. For example, in the past, PriyoShop partnered with A2i under which it works with Union Digital Centers (UDC) across the country turning them into PriyoShop distribution hubs and in the process reaching customers who PriyoShop might not reach otherwise and Microsoft Bangladesh to work with their tech hubs in 64 districts in Bangladesh.
Gradually, the company has also developed an agent-led model to work with retailers across the country where retailers can create agent accounts in PriyoShop app and become a PriyoShop agent. These retailers can sell products from PriyoShop platform to its customers using smartphones. The agents receive a commission for orders they generate through their agent accounts. The company also runs a micro-merchant program, a new village distribution program, where a group of local entrepreneurs visit customers at home with PriyoShop app and collect orders. The company aims to go deeper into its relationship with retailers. In an interview with Tech In Asia, PriyoShop founder Asikul Alam Khan suggested that it not only wants to expand its agent network, it also aims to expand its areas of involvement with agents. The report said PriyoShop “helps small retailers get more inventory from big brands such as Samsung and Philips, among others, and manages end-to-end fulfillment – from payments to logistics. Similarly, small retailers can sell mobile phones, gadgets, lifestyle products, and other items on PriyoShop platform. Customers, meanwhile, can make bill payments, place orders, and have products delivered to their doorstep.” These initiatives make a relationship with PriyoShop meaningful for many smallholder retailers. Naturally, Priyoshop will eventually introduce more products and services for these and other merchants who sell through PriyoShop platform. For example, the company entered into a partnership with Prime Bank, a local private bank in Dhaka, to provide collateral-free loans to PriyoShop merchants. The way PriyoShop is evolving, there is a blend of B2B and B2C business that the company will eventually have to figure out.
While PriyoShop’s agent-led model has a novelty to it, it is not an entirely new model. Previously, companies like Deligram, AjkerDeal among others tinkered with different versions of the same model - working with third-party partners including retailers, to generate orders and reach out to new customer segments outside of urban areas. One challenge many companies who tried similar models faced is the misalignment of priorities between parties often takes a toll on the results. A lot will depend on how PriyoShop deals with these misalignments as the network grows.