Online outlets offering sacrificial cattle have gained popularity in recent years with market insiders predicting that Eid-ul-Azha year-on-year sales would double to 3,000 animals this year.
Last year, the sales amounted to Tk 15-20 crore, said Ataur Rahman, founder of amardesheshop.com, the country's first e-commerce site which started selling cattle online in 2009.
There are at present about a dozen e-commerce sites and meat brands providing this service, including home delivery, at the click of a button.
Although traditional cattle markets have their own charm and attract most people, the online sites offer photos and details of the animals, providing relief from the physical strain of going round “haats” in search of the perfect one.
There is even a “Qurbani full service” offering to slaughter the cattle and delivering the processed meat using proper packaging straight to people's doorsteps.
This service is solely available at Bengal Meat, which is also the sole site which offers its own cattle. All the other sites act as third parties, connecting buyers and sellers for a service charge.
“We have introduced this service a few years back and it is gaining popularity,” said Bengal Meat Head of Marketing HUM Mehedi Sajjad. He acknowledged that online cattle sales have multiplied.
Since August 6, they have sold 500 cattle and would start delivering those to customers live within two or three days. In cases where customers seek only the meat, they start sending those in a frozen state around two days after Eid.
“All the animals we are selling are reared for some time in our own farm in Pabna and that is why customers trust us,” added Sajjad.
Bengal Meat is now thinking of introducing online payment system as they say people from the USA, Canada, Middle East and Indonesia have started looking into their site.
The price of cattle of Bengal Meat and others are seen to range between Tk 60,000 to Tk 200,000.
Bikroy.com Marketing Director Yasser Noor said they were investing on making people more aware of how the system works.
“From customers' side we are getting a huge response as they are tech savvy but sometimes beparies (sellers) are sceptical as they are not habituated to using technology to sell cattle,” said Noor.
The site charges Tk 1,299 for uploading profiles of 40 cattle and Tk 250 for one.
Bikroy.com aided the sale of 700 cattle last year and expects the volume to cross 1,500 this year. Already 1,500 cattle are listed on their site and there will be over 3,000 within a few days.
Sales continue even on Eid day, added Noor.
The online sites for now are catering to urban customers of Dhaka. However, amardesheshop.com is seeking to target cities beyond Dhaka in coming years.
In its first year, amardesheshop.com sold 76 cattle. This year it already put up 100 animals for sale and the number would increase.
Ataur Rahman, founder of amardesheshop.com, expects prices in Dhaka to rise as very little cattle would be coming from the northern part of the country, one of the largest cattle supplying regions, due to floods.
He said to have networks in different districts from where cattle are put up for sale for Eid. This year, the site said to have collected animals from Narsingdi and Kishoreganj.
He said buying sacrificial animals online was still a new concept in Bangladesh. “But I am sure it will boom in a few years,” said Rahman.
E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh observes that this segment of business was yet to reach its full potential as it requires high investment.
Rajib Ahmed, president of the association, said sales and involvement of new entrepreneurs in online cattle markets was on the rise.
“Trust is the most important issue in online trading and we are achieving it for our emerging e-commerce sector,” said Ahmed.