The scorching sun, unbearable traffic clog and the hassle of gyrating your way amidst the large crowd-all while fasting- a daunting prospect indeed. Not for the eid shoppers though. For them the joy of haggling and shopping with friends and family supersedes all of those.
This trend however is on the path of change with the slow but steady emergence of online shopping in Bangladesh. Now, many of the busy urbanites find online shopping to be a better option for themselves than to roam around the shopping malls, even on occasions like Eid.
“I did my eidshopping online this year and it was no less fun than the real shopping”, said Ms Khugesta Nur-E-Naharin Munni, an Entrepareneur and Managing Director of a Brokerage House.
Ms Munni said that the best part of online shopping is that you can practically do that at any given time. “Even when I am at the office and want a break from my work, I go to online stores and look for things. You have many options since there are lots of online boutique shops.”
She said that after searching and researching for some times, she finally bought a set of salwar-kameez from an online store called Matrik. “It was home delivered and that’s the best part. I would have needed to spend hours in Chadni- chawk and Bashundhora to find my dress in this hot and humid weather; but here I spend those hours by staying inside an air-conditioned room and found what I wanted.”
Shabnam Munir, an MBA student of a private university also bought jewelries and sandals from online store called Le Mode. “I haven’t bought my eiddress yet but I am searching online,” she said.
Shabnam said that in websites and facebook pages, there are lots of reviews available of the products. “It’s not like that you cannot make an informed decision while buying those products. Lots of other customers post many reviews and by going through those reviews, you can get ideas about the products. I believe its better because while I used to go out for eid shopping, it always felt like the shopkeepers fooled and sold me the products in higher prices.”
E-SHOPPING IS THE FUTURE
Sarkar Afif, a young lawyer believes that online shopping is the future. “We all use social media, especially the facebook. Interestingly, in your facebook feed, you will find sponsored advertisements of lots of product these days. Even if you don’t want to, you will stumble upon to one of those advertisements. Those advertisements lure you and make you an impulse buyer”
Afif said that he didn’t plan on taking a vacation during eid. “I however saw a sponsored ad of Thailand tour package during eid and it was so well advertised that I bought one package. It was not pre-planned but I took it just because it was advertised in my facebook feed in glamorous manner.”
Afzal Hossain, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of bdshoopers.com said that huge money is spent across the world to conduct research work on customer behavior. “The search engines and the social media feed are well tuned in line with those research works. The intelligent software immediately detects customer’s behavior and post advertisements according to that.”
Explaining that Afzal said, suppose a person clicks sponsored advertisements of a shoe store in his facebook feed. Then from the shoe website, he somehow went to a clothing website and browses three or four other clothing websites for shirts.
“Then the intelligent design of facebook algorithm has the data that this customer is looking for a shirt. After that the advertisements of several shirt stores are automatically posted in the facebook feed of that particular person basing on the data.”
“It’s not about eid only. Because of these advertisements, people get habituated with shopping online. Increasingly it becomes a part of their life.”
Mohammd Golam Morshed, employee of a private bank said that he is already in practice of buying his groceries online. “Since last one year, I have done my regular groceries from chaldal.com. The grocery shopping for this eid will be no different.”
He however said that when it comes to eid shopping for clothing or footwear, he still prefers the old fashioned way. “You cannot measure the quality of a shoe from a picture posted in online; you have to touch it to gauge it.”
A STUDY SHOWS A RISING TREND
Bijon Islam, CEO of Lightcastle Partners (LCP), informed that with stronger security protocols, easier transaction facilities achieved with assistance from banks and trusted logistic companies the digital consumer class in Bangladesh is actually on the rise.
LCP in 2016 conducted a study titled -‘The Rise of Digital Consumer Class in Bangladesh’ to get an insight of the online shopping trend in Bangladesh.
LCP conducted the online study over 450 respondents in Dhaka, Chittagong, and Sylhet–three developed e-commerce markets in the country. Coming from emerging middle, and the middle and affluent class (Monthly income within USD 251-650 range) households, around 64.4% of those respondents are aged 20-40 with 35% representation from 20-30 year age group.
The study said that the consumers are becoming more conducive to online transactions these days. This has resulted into more frequent visits and transactions in online. As per the study, around 18% respondent visits e-commerce sites once a day and 22% once a week.
Nearly 35% purchases are concentrated on weekends, the study said. During the religious festivals like Eid, 27% of the respondents buy things online and during other festivals like Bengali and English New Year, 20% of them do the same.
The research found that the 28% of digital consumers spend, on an average, BDT 1000 to 10,000 per visit. Fashion-wear comprises 22% and fashion accessories comprise 18% of all the transactions in e-commerce sites.
Major portion of the respondents-67% prefer the cash on delivery (COD) mechanisms. However, mobile payment gateways, if correctly leveraged, can be promising alternatives as the survey found that 32% of the respondents would like to use mobile payment gateways with a more easy-to-use mobile wallet option.
“With the advent of 3G internet, coupled with the proliferation of smarter gadgets and availability of secured and flexible mobile financial services, e-commerce industry in Bangladesh is poised for exponential growth” said Bijon Islam.
He said that their research suggests that 38% of the middle and affluent consumers would definitely like to increase their online purchases in the next year. “This eid is an example of the growing trend. The number of online shopping has shot up exponentially during this eid.”