Only 6 percent of smartphone users in Bangladesh are regularly making purchases from online shops, trailing far behind those in neighbouring India and Pakistan, found a study of research platform GSMA Intelligence.
Some 28 percent of smartphone users in India and 12 percent in Pakistan are shopping online regularly.
Currently, there are about 2.5 crore smartphones in Bangladesh, meaning only 15 lakh people are doing online shopping every month.
The GSMA study -- The Mobile Economy Asia Pacific, 2019 -- found another 5 percent of smartphone users making purchases products albeit less frequently.
About 89 percent have never tried online shopping, which is the same as in neighbouring Myanmar, found the report published recently.
“The number seems okay,” said AKM Fahim Mashroor, chief executive officer of AjkerDeal.com, one of the leading e-commerce shops in Bangladesh.
As many as 15 to 20 lakh shop online in Bangladesh.
There are about three crore active internet users in Bangladesh but government data shows it to be about 10 crore, said Mashroor, also the former president of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS).
“Without increasing the number of internet users it is not possible for online shopping to thrive here.”
Besides, problems in the delivery channel and the steep price of internet are also holding back the e-commerce sector.
In Bangladesh, it takes 4-5 days or even more to deliver a product to rural areas whereas in India and Indonesia, both way bigger countries than Bangladesh, it takes two days.
“Internet connectivity is the other challenge as major parts of the country still do not have access to fast data connection. And the price of data is also very high,” he added.
However, leaders of the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) said the numbers are higher.
“Our estimation says Bangladesh’s online shoppers’ number is about 50 lakh and we are not sure what is the base of the GSMA’s study,” said Abdul Wahed Tomal, general secretary of the e-CAB.
Currently, the industry is getting 40,000 to 50,000 orders a day, so if the shopper number did not reach 50 lakh it would not have been possible to reach the high volume of orders.
“Bangladesh has started a little later than India and Indonesia, which is why this market is lagging behind.”
Currently, the market size is about Tk 1,000 crore and it is growing at 30 to 40 percent.
The government is also trying to enhance the industry and has taken up a plan to train about 5,000 e-commerce entrepreneurs.
The initial plan is to select 2,000 trainees from Dhaka, 1,200 from Chattogram and 300 each from all of the other divisional cities. After completing the training, the country will better adopt the digital commerce culture and Bangladesh’s figures will be much better, Tomal added.