Sadequa Hassan Sejuti
Imagine being able to explore a massive trade fair from the comforts of one's home, without the crowd, long tailbacks and the tussles with the vendors.
This is no longer a wishful thinking -- rather a reality in Bangladesh.
A local e-commerce company is presenting the 18th Dhaka International Trade Fair (DITF) on a web portal.
Amar Desh Amar Gram, an e-commerce concept of Future Solution for Business (FSB) Ltd, has developed an online marketplace for all the products to be showcased at DITF, with the blessings of Export Promotion Bureau.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate the trade fair website, ditfeshop.com, on January 1. The project will cost Tk 2 crore.
â€œIt is a unique concept as we are working to create the product profiles of all the participants at DITF 2013 for online trading,â€ Sadequa Hassan Sejuti, the managing director of FSB, told The Daily Star yesterday.
They would make individual e-commerce websites for around 500 of the stalls participating in the fair, with the registration cost ranging from Tk 15,000 to Tk 1 lakh, she said.
The online marketer has already developed more than 100 sites.
â€œWe will provide all sorts of support, including web portals design, home delivery and call centre support, for the traders,â€ Sejuti said.
The digital DITF market will benefit both the traders and customers -- as it will take the fair to people at home and abroad alike.
Furthermore, local producers without the means to join DITF would also get an opportunity to display their products.
The option is also open to overseas sellers who are unable to travel to Dhaka for the fair.
The digital DITF site comes at a time when online shopping is taking off in Bangladesh in a big way.
Last year, about a dozen online shopping portals or e-trading platforms popped up after Bangladesh Bank introduced online payment service by debit or credit card in local currency.
A 10 percent service charge will be taken, and the deliveries within Bangladesh would be made within two working days, and five working days in case of foreign countries.
Around 90 people are working to provide the digital DITF service, Sejuti said.
She said a customer can buy products from the digital DITF through debit or credit cards, bank drafts and mobile payment service.
FSB, a youth enterprise that introduced e-commerce in the country in 2009, has clinched the United Nations World Summit Youth Award 2011 for "creating outstanding digital content for rural people".
The e-portal company has direct links with around 5,500 rural people, including farmers, weavers and fishermen, who can post their produce at the portal for sale.
The company, currently serving its customers through its seven e-centres in Mongla, Narsingdi, Tangail, Sirajganj, Jamalpur, Rangpur and Sylhet, has also a database of around 8,000 registered customers, according to officials.
Earlier FSB introduced the first-ever online marketplace for sacrificial animals for Eid-ul-Azha, with the aim to cater to the busy city dwellers and non-resident Bangladeshis.