'urrently, traders in the country are running with the pre-holiday shipment with no effect being felt so far'
The country’s e-commerce traders fear shipment disruption and slump in business under a prolonged coronavirus impact as major online products are imported from China for the growing local market.
Industry insiders say they are waiting for feedbacks from their Chinese counterparts on shipment details as mainland China has been forced to enjoy extended holidays following the virus outbreak.
“The situation seems grave as our products sold on e-commerce platforms are mainly sourced from China. Their holiday has been extended until February 10. If the deadly coronavirus outbreak persists and spreads further, local e-commerce business will be in dire crisis,” said Mohammad Sahab Uddin, vice president of E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (E-CAB).
Currently, traders in the country are running with the pre-holiday shipment with no effect being felt so far, he adds.
“But the shipment is temporarily snapped now. Air shipment is also to be stopped soon. So, supply of products from China might be affected in a lingering situation,” Sahab also said.
According to the E-CAB, around 60% of the local e-commerce products, especially electronic gadgets, are imported from China.
The fashion products marketed in the online platforms are mostly imported from China, India and Pakistan, say industry people.
The market of toys and amusement related online products is dominated by China while that of furniture and home appliances is shared between local and imported products.
The outbreak of the virus began in December last year in central Chinese city that already spread to more than 10 countries.
Tension is mounting around the world, with China confirming 811 deaths from the virus as of Saturday and 37,198 cases of infection reported globally since the outbreak.
There is no vaccine nor any specific treatment invented yet to treat the deadly virus.
According to German statistic company Statista, the country was ranked 46th in the global e-commerce index last year with $1.6 billion trade.
According to the Statista report, the online fashion market in Bangladesh is currently worth $598 million and it has the prospect to reach up to $1.24 billion by 2023.
Electronic products amounting to $457 million and furniture and appliances worth about $196 million are sold online annually.
The online sales of furniture and appliances will go up to $352 million after four years, the report predicts.
Online sales of toys and hobby products stand at $260 million and it can almost double to $442 million by 2023.
Fahim Mashroor, chief executive officer of AjkerDeal.com, one of the popular e-commerce sites, finds no impact as yet on the market.
“But some small traders could take the opportunity of the virus unfairly, citing unavailability of Chinese goods,” he said.
The country’s largest e-commerce company Daraz Bangladesh in a statement said, "There's no evidence that indicate cross border packages or their contents carry any risks. The company is monitoring the situation and will cooperate with relevant authorities. In addition, WHO has also said parcels from China are safe.”
“The only drawback is due to Chinese New Year. Chinese sellers are on holiday and the holiday has been extended until February 10 because of the coronavirus. For this reason, the delivery timeline of cross border products doubled. Currently, 35 to 40 working days are required as opposed to normal delivery time of 15 to 20 days,” it added.