Needless to say going to shop is an important task and often most of us have to go to a nearby market or store to buy things in everyday need.
However, for a working people, it’s not always easy to make time out of their busy schedule to go to a market for grocery items, especially perishable ones, required on daily basis and even if they somehow manage to do it, there are lots of hassles in it. And in a city, like Dhaka, where sapping traffic jam is commonplace, it often becomes a daunting task for the people, particularly the women with children and the old age, to go market regularly and buy the right items for their family within short time. Therefore, to bring a little relief in the hectic lives of city dwellers and to avoid difficulty of going market in person, online grocery shopping would be a convenient option.
Although the concept of online shopping is not nebulous as Bengalis have started to embrace the idea of new way of shopping since 2013, the selling of basic groceries, including consumer goods, online has not been started that way in the country as yet.
This is more so as still to most of the people, online shopping mean mostly buying or selling electronic goods like mobile phones, TV cards, Camera, and other electronic accessories.To change the notion, some supper shop ventures and individual entrepreneurs have taken initiative to launch selling and delivering groceries using electronic means.
Along with its brick-and-mortar stores, Meena Bazar, one of the largest chain supper shops in the country launched its ecommerce platform meenaclick in April, this year. The venture is getting positive response with 20-25 orders on an average a day. The company responds to the orders through quickest delivery through its 17 stores across the county. Initially, the company has made the service available in three major cities- Dhaka, Chittagong and Khulna, with intention of expanding its operations gradually in other districts of the county, according to news report.
Another leading super store, Swapno, has recently rolled out its ecommerce operation with delivery only limited to Dhaka city at its initial stage. The beta version of the site is now floating on the web.
Again, basing on its huge customer base and goodwill, Agora, the country’s first supper shop has planned to initiate its online operation and delivery system using new technology. According to its official, they are still in planning stage of developing a platform and want to ensure seamless service channel before entering a virtual domain. An online shop, Chaldal.com, based in Dhaka was established by individual entrepreneurs in 2013 and already operating on a large scale. Chaldal was initially set up to cater to a limited number of areas within the city with only a handful of employees. As per its web, it now successfully serves the entire city, offering beyond 4,000 different items including basic grocery items, office stationery, electronics, baby care, beauty and healthcare products and more.
Sobji Bazaar is another individual online business venture exclusively aimed at providing and delivering agricultural products and vegetables at the doorsteps of city dwellers. As stated in its website, the company is claimed to have developed a simple and user-friendly system to take orders from the customers and deliver inorganic vegetables in shortest possible time at the front door of the consumers with free of delivery or service charge. Moreover, Pran-RFL too is after a slice of the growing ecommerce market of the country. The group launched its e-commerce site othoba.com last year, where it also sells grocery items. There are more than 2,000 e-commerce platforms in Bangladesh, of whom, only a handful are selling groceries.
Not too long ago many people were sceptical about this convenient mode of shopping. The status quo of online shopping has drastically changed leading to the emergence of online shops retailing and delivering basic commodities including grocery items, perishable goods and agricultural products. In fact, it is the government’s various projects and efforts in building IT infrastructure which have given the fresh impetus for new businesses to be developed day by day.
However, like every other business, e-shopping has also some challenges and receiving payment is one of them, according to e-market insiders.
Although the COD (Cash on Delivery) is also a popular system in the country, it has its shortcomings. While it is a good way to sell small ticket items, it becomes a challenge when more expensive products or transactions of large sum of money are involved. Any retailer who wants to ship a large ticket item needs to have payment up front or at least a partial payment made.
Furthermore, there is a possibility of higher DSR (Door-Step-Rejection) rate in this mode of shopping. It is to be noted that the DSR rate is the percentage of rejection when a courier or carrier of goods reaches the delivery point and this includes a scenario when the person who placed the order is not available at the location at that moment or does not have the payment. On the other hand, it is alleged that on some occasions, despite making payment duly the customer did not receive the item as its features and specification mentioned on a retailers’ website. This indicates that a few e-shoppers tried to trick or fleece the clients by falsely putting bells and whistles on their products.
Therefore, to flourish its continued growth more rapidly in an effective manner, all stakeholders come forward to diligently do their parts. All kinds of electronic payment systems should be made easy and affordable to mass people. The COD system is to be made more dependable and customers’ active role in this is pivotal. The worrying DSR rate can be kept lower by bringing in a rigorous delivery protocol in place, such as calling to confirm orders, calling before delivery and giving a heads up on when the delivery will be made so that cash is available at the right time.
Despite having some downsides, it would not be an exaggeration to say that e-grocery-shopping has every potential to shape our shopping experiences. It is the way that can take all the hassles out of everyday shopping. Not only does this make one’s life easy but it can also eliminate the interference of middlemen in the market from manipulating prices as the growers or manufacturers of products can directly reach the prospective customers through adopting this means. In a word, it is inevitable that online grocery shopping is the shape of things to come.
The writer is an Associate Engineer, Thakral Information Systems Pvt. Ltd. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org