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Dhaka's Ecommerce Sees an Influx of New Players

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Mar 28, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has fast-forwarded the future of ecommerce in Bangladesh by multiple years. A deluge of new customers has swept the ecommerce industry since the coronavirus hit March last year. The growth has also attracted a batch of new players in the vertical further intensifying the competition. 

  • Although the growth returned to a normal plane since the lockdown lifted later in 2020, several ecommerce CEOs we spoke with reported that the gains from the pandemic surge in growth hold to a large extent. “Many customers who started shopping on our platform counties to do so. We have noticed one change: they were shopping everything before but they now shop only select items”, said one CEO. 

We wrote last year in The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Fast-forwarded the Future of eCommerce

  • “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 an 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 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.”

The market has seen meaningful growth: A 2020 report from the Financial Express report said “the size of e-Commerce in Bangladesh climbed to Tk 166.16 billion until August of this year, roughly 29.67 times the amount in 2016.” 

  • Aggressive growth push from companies like Evaly, Daraz, and several other ecommerce players has helped take ecommerce to a greater number of people over the past few years. Questions are there regarding customer satisfaction and sustainable growth, but there is no denying that the ecommerce market has expanded meaningfully. 

New players: In the past few months, we have seen a steady surge in the number of new ecommerce players in Dhaka. While this shows a sense of optimism in the future of ecommerce, it is relevant to mention here that except for a handful of players with deep pockets, ecommerce remains an expensive business. In the past few years, several previously celebrated players shut down the operation. Regardless, the new players are likely to help further grow the market. 

  • Salextra: Launched in January 2021, Saleextra is a mobile, electronic gadget, and consumer electronics-focused ecommerce company. 
  • Hola: Hola sells everything from cosmetics, clothing, electronic products, services to regular grocery. The company says it specializes in foreign branded products. 
  • Dhamaka Shopping: Dhamaka Shopping was launched in 2020. The company is among the aggressive ecommerce players in the market offering hefty deals and discounts. 
  • Alesha Mart: Launched with quite an offline fanfare in Jan 2021, Alesha Mart is a subsidiary of Alesha Holdings Limited. The company is the title sponsor of the Bangladesh tour of the New Zealand ODI/T20I Series started on March 202, tells a lot about the ambition of the company. 

Several other niche and smaller players entered the market in the last six months. 

Bottom line: The current prominent players Daraz, Evaly, AjkerDeal, Pickaboo, PriyoShop continue to invest heavily into growth. The surge in new players shows a growing interest in ecommerce in Dhaka. It also tells about the growing competition in the vertical. As the new companies enter the market, competition is likely to intensify in the coming months.

Coverphoto: Chaldal Warehouse in Dhaka.

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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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