Nowadays, ecommerce becomes an essential tool of doing business due to the privilege of access to internet as well as digital platforms. Online buy and sale become common. It’s expanding so fast, making people dependent on ecommerce around the world. And, Bangladesh is not an exception. Ecommerce has begun contributing to the economy of the country gradually.
Online marketplace Evaly has become a market leader. They sell products of other vendors and companies on their platform and make profit whereas customers get inexpensive products and easy service. Besides, Evaly stands by many small sellers who were struggling to sell their products offline. Evaly founder and Managing Director Mohammad Rassel talked to the Bangladesh Post on the state of ecommerce, market, impact of coronavirus, future plan and the overall problem and prospect of the sector.
Bangladesh Post (BD Post): At first, we would like to greet you and your team. Many people say your company has made a ‘revolution.’ Evaly has a noticeable presence in cities and towns, its network is big enough. Evaly deserves praise to create an e-market in the country. Please, tell us about the background.
Mohammad Rassel: First credit goes to the government. They are marching towards building a digital Bangladesh. We have just joined the march. The measures of government are ecommerce-friendly. Initiatives for the ICT sector make our work easier. Expansion of internet and telecommunication users and introduction of 3G to 4G have helped create the background of ecommerce. Taking the privileges, ecommerce is spreading in the country. We have done same for Evaly.
BD Post: Give the readers a brief idea on the size and the state of ecommerce market in Bangladesh.
Rassel: Its explanation varies. Many commercial events take place online. If we can include those the market size will be big enough. Some 100 million out of 180 million population in the country use internet. Either directly or indirectly, so, these 100 million people are a potential market. A market never comes ready. It needs to be prepared. We are doing it. If an internet user conducts transactions of Tk 10,000monthly, the size of ecommerce market can stand at Tk 1 trillion per month. If we can target 10 percent it is possible to make a turnover of Tk 100 billion per month. Even we become too conservative, I think at least a Tk 2 billion ecommerce market remains ready, which is possible to explore. We are working on this goal.
BD Post: What is the market size of Evaly?
Rassel: Currently, we conduct transaction between Tk 300-400 crore a month, controlling 10 to 15 percent of the entire ecommerce market in the country.
BD Post: Covid-19 helps boost ecommerce in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the world. How much potential has been created for ecommerce in Bangladesh?
Rassel: Covid-19 plays nosignificant role in ecommerce in Bangladesh immediately like it happened in the USA. In fact, ecommerce infrastructure has not been developed well yet. We can conduct transaction in Dhaka only, not in the entire country. However, people become aware of ecommerce and more interested. Many famous brands are considering to enter ecommerce too. Covid-19 makes offline product delivery challenging and in-person buy and sale risky. You will notice that we have signed deal with several companies to sell their products and they are showing interests too.
BD Post: Other than Covid-19, what are the policy challenges you are facing?
Rassel: You see, there was no specific law for ecommerce. I personally did not find it challenging. Sometimes, rules and regulations become a barrier. However, ecommerce industry has just witnessed its incubation and it’s still in the initial phase. Yes, separate policy and laws might be needed when it will be expandednationally.
BD Post: However, some guidelines are necessary?
Rassel: Of course, and it has been so. Different steps taken by the government are ecommerce-friendly. Besides, the government has some instructions on internet.
BD Post: Since ecommerce shows huge potential what are the preparations we should take?
Rassel: People in Bangladesh can adopt anything fast. Once they do it is difficult to keep them away from it. The same happens for ecommerce. Evaly started 1 year and 4 months ago. Now we have 4 million buyers and it’s rising. Our website draws nearly 10 million visitors monthly. It’s beyond thinking and a positive sign too.
BD Post: What is the secret of Evaly’s success?
Rassel: If you look on the offline market you will see the success depended on the adequate buyers and product supply. Why are New Market, Bashundhara Shopping Mall so popular? Because these places have lot of shops and ample supply of products. So, people shop there. In fact, product supply is must to become successful in business. Bring huge buyers and sellers as well as maintain a balance but it is very challenging. Here comes the investmentissue. We have many facts those we have overcome. Some 30 million people use smartphones in Bangladesh and they use ecommerce platforms. After all, entire environment was favourable and we have connected products and buyers. This is why we become successful.
BD Post: Can you tell us a bit more on the achievement?
Rassel: The biggest achievement is – we have earned people’s trust. Many people thought we are doing business avoiding policymakers. But we don’t. The government should look into different aspects. Ecommerce, too, has commercial and financial aspects. However, Evaly now becomes an audited company. Everyone knows it and keeps trust on us. All of it is a positive sign.
BD Post: What are your current human resources?
Rassel: Our current human resources are nearly 6,000. Of them, 800 employees work directly and they came from renowned corporate companies while the rest of them are involved with Evaly indirectly. More will join us in coming days. At Evaly, team work is very important.
BD Post: What is your dreamabout Evaly? Where do you want to take Evaly in future?
Rassel: We want to become the WeChat or Alibaba of Bangladesh. We don’t find it difficult since Evalycontrols 10-15 percent of ecommerce market in the country. Many started before us but they couldn’t make it. Now, we have become the biggest digital platform in the country. It has been possible because we have a group of knowledge workers, especially, our IT experts are highly skilled. At present, all big companies are involved with us. So, if any company wants to beat Evaly it will have to fight hard.
BD Post: How much can ecommerce contribute to the economic growth of the country?
Rassel: You know Alibaba has contributed to the economic revolution in China. Huge products have been exported through this online platform. Ecommerce can play role in the economic growth of Bangladesh. It is not possible to build big shopping mall at all districts. Industrial decentralization, what is being talk about, is not possible too.Because, establishment of industries and factories is not possible everywhere since it increases expenses. As a result, products of all brands are difficult to find everywhere.
On the other hand, ecommerce can fulfill these demands. It is possible to reach everyone online and display products everywhere. It reduces expenses including transportation, delivery and dealership costs; thus, it saves thousands of crores of taka. So, it can contribute to the GDP of the country.
BD Post: You offer big discount. Sometimes it seems too unrealistic. How is it possible?
Rassel: We purchase many products’ lots. It costs less so that we can give discount. However, it requires big investment and poses high risk and can be minimised by giving discount. But it is also true that discount can’t be offered on all products.
BD Post: Thank You. It was nice talking to you.
Rassel: It was nice talking to you too.