If you’ve experienced parenthood, you’re well versed in the world of diapers. Diapers are often lifesavers for parents. But not all diapers come equal. It is not enough to have any diapers, you must have the best quality. Timeliness is important. Running out of diapers is a possibility but you don’t want to tread that line. Once a predominantly urban phenomenon, diapers are now almost everywhere. Parents in semi-urban and villages have caught up with their urban peers in adopting diaper usage, expanding the overall market size.
There are some 3,100,000 babies born in Bangladesh per year, or around 8,600 every day (per UNICEF data from 2015). The market churns a lot—kids usually wear diapers for an average first three years—but within that window, business is quite sticky. Moms need diapers and they would have them keep coming.
This has given rise to a fast-growing diapers market in Bangladesh. First came the imported diapers and imported brands dominated the market for a good few years. Then local companies started to notice the demand and local brands started to manufacture locally. Today, while exported diaper brands continue to enjoy a significant presence in the market, it is no more dominant. Local brands have excellent penetration.
When online commerce slowly started to gain momentum in Bangladesh back in 2015, Chaldal, which started in 2013, entered the diapers market and started selling diapers on its platform. Today, almost all major ecommerce marketplaces sell diapers. Chaldal, however, has managed to build a dominant position in the vertical.
Chaldal did not start selling diapers right away. The company took almost two years by the time it entered the diapers market in 2015. By that time, Chaldal already started gaining popularity as an online grocery store.
Looking back, sitting in 2022, 2015 seems like the stone age of online shopping in Dhaka. People were just learning about the new world of online shopping. Although Chaldal had already made a name for being the online grocery player at that time, there was still more work to be done in the vertical.
One fascinating aspect about Chaldal is that the company has always been deliberate when it comes to expansion. In fact, some of the major product verticals Chaldal has expanded into over the past few years have all originated from customer demand.
The same is the case with the diaper. The company started selling diapers in around 2015 when there was an apparent demand among its customers for diapers and related baby products.
“The first time we started to think about selling diapers was around 2015 when a customer called our hotline number and asked for baby diapers,” explains a Chaldal representative.
That was it. After a few more queries, Chaldal launched a new category called “Baby Care” focusing on necessary baby products including diapers. From day one, the company focused on offering a large variety selling all kinds of diapers in a single place.
Chaldal has over the years in fact put meaningful effort to grow its diaper business.
The motivation apparently does not only come from the fact that diapers are an annual BDT 450 crore market in Bangladesh, but also from the fact that a strong position in the diaper market can help the company with its overall standing in the mind of a customer.
The company saw the category as a quick road to the hearts of mothers. Diapers are hassle-free purchases. If you can ensure quality and timely delivery, parents are more than happy to buy from you.
Since Chaldal started its diaper business almost after two years of its inception, the risk of diluting its focus was limited. By that time, the company already had a stable grocery business. A product extension in a market that could amplify its core business made perfect sense.
The move has paid off. The company today has a growing baby products business, diapers leading the vertical.
Started organically, the category has since evolved. Today, Chaldal has a meticulous process of how it runs the baby care products category. The company says it puts special attention on sourcing baby care products to ensure quality.
Chaldal directly works with prominent importers for imported diapers and the local manufacturers for local diapers. The company goes to extra lengths to ensure that all the products are genuine and quality is exacting.
Baby products are a sensitive category. Parents are okay to sacrifice when it comes to the quality of their own products. But if their kid gets a rash, it affects their life and their sleep. When it comes to diapers, parents aren’t willing to give that same leeway for a product. Hence, the main challenge of selling diapers online is gaining the trust and faith of parents.
Although Chaldal does not manufacture any of the products it sells, the company takes quality seriously and only works with reputed suppliers. The seriousness has resulted in consistent customer value.
Diapers, delivered fast, high quality, and competitive pricing, were the initial hook. The business has since experienced steady growth to the extent that Chaldal can easily be called one of the most dominant players in the vertical in Dhaka.
Chaldal says it currently delivers around 1500 diapers daily and claims that it provides the best available prices for diapers in the market and ensures the best quality genuine products.
The company says it works closely with the vendors, tries to understand their business model, and tries to get the best offers for customers.
It has a customer-friendly return policy—customers can return products within seven days if there are any issues, no questions asked. The customer-first approach has also helped Chaldal to receive excellent reviews from customers.
The annual diaper market in Bangladesh is estimated to be worth 400-450 crore. Over the past several years, the market dynamics have changed significantly. Back in 2017/2018, imported diapers owned 70% of the market share. However, the dynamics have changed in the past several years and today, local diapers brands continue to gain market share.
Like every other vertical in Bangladesh, diapers are also slowly making a transition to online commerce. Industry insiders suggest that the online market is currently somewhere 15-20% of the total market. While the online market remains fragmented today with a lot of small players, it can safely be predicted that the online share of the diapers market is going to grow many folds in the coming years.
The growth has gained attention from several players including general-purpose ecommerce players as well as smaller niche players in the vertical.
Chaldal, however, enjoys an early mover advantage in the category. The company also runs the dedicated platform diaper.com.bd and appears to have a greater focus on the vertical with a streamlined operation to support it.
Chaldal already has a reputation and awareness in the category and has been able to gain the trust of the parents. As it pushes for expansion, Chaldal is now looking to improve its supply chain and efficiency in the category so that it can offer greater benefits to customers while ensuring a healthy margin.