Farjana Mony was feeling exhausted even at the thought of going to malls braving huge traffic jams and crowds. But she can't help as it is the time for Eid shopping.
She was looking for an alternative means of buying her dresses. When she found one -- through friends and the social media -- she was all smiles.
It's so easy: place the order online and get the item right at your door. You don't need even need to pay before delivery.
“I'm very happy to buy my Eid dress from an online store,” Mony, a resident of Shyampur in the capital.
This is e-commerce. Shopping is just one click away.
Receiving orders on their portals, e-trading companies collect the items from manufacturers, importers or distributors and then deliver those to consumers. They get a commission on every sale.
These virtual stores offer a wide range of products, including kitchen items, apparels, gift items, furniture, electronic goods, home appliances and books.
“Many people are interested in online shopping mainly to save time and avoid traffic jam,” said Shameem Ahsan, president of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS).
With internet use on the rise, e-shopping is becoming popular, he said, adding the online stores display a bigger collection of products, luring customers to buy more.
Ahsan is also the chief executive officer of Akhoni.com, a leading online shop that started operation in January 2010. The sales from his store this Ramadan has doubled than the last year.
Online shopping accounts for a major share of daily retail trade in developed countries. It is growing also in India and China.
In Bangladesh, about a hundred e-trading companies operate and some 40 of them follow business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing.
B2C refers to transactions between businesses and consumers, while B2B is business-to-business exchange of products, such as trade between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, or a wholesaler and a retailer.
These 40 virtual outlets make Tk 55 crore sales every year. They have targeted up to Tk 15 crore sales this Ramadan -- around 27 percent of their annual turnover. Of them, 10 are doing well.
In the country, online shopping, including e-ticket sales and sales through Facebook, has yearly transactions worth around Tk 200 crore. It is growing by 20-30 percent every month, according to the industry insiders.
The idea of online shopping gained momentum in 2011 after the Bangladesh Bank cleared ways for payment by debit and credit cards in local currency.
Bangladesh Brands, another leading virtual mall that launched operation in July last year, has also got a good response, said Sadequa Hassan Sejuti, its managing director.
“A growing number of people are shopping through e-portals to avoid hassles,” she said, adding that her portal has so far transacted around Tk 20 lakh since beginning of the Ramadan.
The young woman entrepreneur said they expect Tk 50 lakh Ramadan sale, which was around Tk 14 lakh last year.
Md Nurunnabi Islam, a delivery man of Bangladesh Brands, said: “It is a pick time for us as many customers are placing orders for Eid.”
Usually, they take 24 hours for delivery inside Dhaka, but it takes 48 to 72 hours during Ramadan due to a huge pressure, said the 28-year-old, who draws Tk 10,500 in monthly salary. He made 13 such deliveries in the first half of yesterday.
The outlet also delivers goods abroad through FedEx.
Biponee.com, another such store running since January last year, has earned around Tk 50 lakh this Ramadan, three times higher from the previous year, said Ahsanul Alam, chief operation officer of the portal.
Online shopping is becoming popular in other parts of the country as well, with around 30 percent of the transactions taking place outside Dhaka, according to industry insiders.
To meet the growing customer demand, Aarong, a leading fashion and lifestyle brand in the country, has opened its first e-commerce site recently.
Mohammad Abdur Rouf, chief operating officer of Aarong, said his company is receiving orders worth around 2 lakh on an average daily through the portal.
Non-resident Bangladeshis can buy from Aarong through the portal and can send those to relatives in the country.
“Many fashion and lifestyle brands are opening e-commerce outlets,” said Azharul Haque Azad, president of Fashion Entrepreneurs Association of Bangladesh that represents more than 50 leading fashion houses.
Around 60 percent of fashion houses in the country have e-commerce sites, said Azad, also the managing director of fashion house Sadakalo.
AKM Fahim Mashroor, founder of Ajkerdeal.com, said around one and a half crore people in the country now use internet regularly.
Of them, 30-35 lakh use Facebook, which is another platform for online shopping. Currently, 2-3 percent of the total internet users do shopping online under B2C category, said Mashroor, also a former president of BASIS.
He added that his online store, which began journey in November 2011, made Tk 50 lakh sales since the first Ramadan. The portal is offering dresses, footwear, ornaments and electronic gadgets targeting Eid-ul-Fitr.
The site has direct links with over 500 merchants. It delivers goods within 24 hours inside Dhaka and 48 hours outside capital at free of cost if the value of goods is over Tk 500.
Mashroor also noted that customers prefer paying after delivery. Around 90 percent of online shoppers pay bills through cash on delivery, 5 percent by mobile money and the rest by credit and debit cards.
This is why many banks and international card issuing companies are offering discounts to purchase goods through debit or credit cards targeting the Eid.
Currently, MasterCard, which has entered partnerships with 11 financial institutions in Bangladesh, is providing the users up to 33 percent discount on shopping from popular outlets.
“The reason for discount is to promote card use and give extra benefits to users,” said Syed Mohammad Kamal, country manager for MasterCard, Bangladesh.