• Saturday, Oct 23, 2021
  • Last Update : 10:42 pm

OP-ED: An e-commerce saga

  • Published at 05:50 pm September 20th, 2021
Police escort Evaly CEO
Police escort Evaly CEO and Managing Director Mohammad Rassel, arrested on charges of embezzlement and cheating customers, to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court of Dhaka on Friday, September 17, 2021 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

How Evaly crashed and burned

During the pandemic, this industry gained great momentum in terms of generating employment directly and indirectly through delivering people’s daily necessities at their doorsteps when people were in lockdown. 

The industry seemed promising.

Then the fiasco came to light due to controversial e-commerce site Evaly’s wrongdoings. 

After Evaly’s issues came to fore, other similar e-commerce sites -- e-orange, Dhamaka, and Alesha Mart-- all were found doing the same in our online platforms.

A Ponzi scheme

Experts say Evaly’s business model is nothing but another Ponzi scheme, the kind MLM companies practice.

They are cheating people in broad daylight by providing their razzle-dazzle product ads online, which easily grab general people’s attention. 

This proves once again that all the things we see online are mostly lies -- we should not believe them all.

E-commerce companies like Evaly take money for a product to be delivered by a promised time, but there’s no mention of availability of that product’s quantity in their stock on site. 

As a result, they collect unlimited orders from customers for products that they actually do not have in stock to grab customers’ money.

A few customers get the desired product at a huge discounted rate, and the rest are deprived, but the company continuously makes vague promises to the deprived customers, so it can hold on to the money, which serves other purposes for the company. 

This is how Evaly’s other ventures, like efood and so on, actually develop.

It is true that there weren’t any SOPs or policy guidelines for our e-commerce industry from the respective ministries and/or regulatory bodies, which could have barred them from engaging in their cheating activities. 

Evaly and such e-commerce sites have taken that advantage to the fullest.

Now, all authorities concerned are keeping them under the scanner and questioning them, but it is already too late, because many people, i.e. merchants and customers, have already invested what they had in their hands. 

In this circumstance, no one knows whether they (merchant/customer) will get back their product or money from these so called e-commerce companies, as they do not have any specific answers from the site owners.

If we see Evaly as a case, we will see that they have misused their customers’ hard-earned money in the name of marketing, campaigning, and branding, to attract more customers to fall in their trap. 

However, if you increase your spending on marketing, campaigning, and branding, that will directly hit your own investment, profit, or product price. 

In Evaly’s case, it is customer money that they burned for these purposes directly, which were taken in advance for the product to deliver.

Also, they burned people’s money in a way that makes abnormal discount rates a new normal on their platforms. 

This is not possible even for a merchant or a producer to give. But the sad part is, none of the customer-merchants questioned Evaly: How is it possible?

That was, until the central bank’s audit report, which was disclosed by newspapers. 

Thus, these customers and merchants cannot avoid their liability either.

A few customers gained through these abnormal discounts, true, but the majority of customers fell into an uncertainty by paying advance money, which is also a very bitter truth.

Bad behaviour

Evaly handles their customers very carelessly, as anyone will tell, after observing their customers’ reactions on their social media page. 

But the customers are accepting it, because there’s no other way than waiting.

According to Evaly’s CEO, who often claims he established Evaly as a brand, the company has massive brand value and customer base, if he sells it. 

Yes, it becomes a brand, but an irritating one, which doesn’t have any value to its customers if it stops offering discounts.

Now, Evaly’s CEO is saying they will stop providing abnormal discounts on their platforms, but for their case--no more discounts means no more customers, and as a result, no more sales and revenues.

So, if sales decline, which has already started, how would they pay back their merchants as well as customers, as they did not have enough paid-up capital of their own when they started their business and current assets?

Finding investors, both local or foreign, could have been a solution, but who will invest when you don’t have a proper business plan that is justified in the first place and do not have any clear direction to overcome the crisis? Bank loan? 

A big no, because all know their present financial condition, and banks do not provide loans without any security. Are they expecting magic?

Just imagine, a successful diaper-seller and former banker-turned-CEO of Evaly, Rassel’s intentions were good, but failed due to improper business planning and lack of experience, OK, but he hired some industry-leading professionals to run his company’s various departments, no?

So didn’t they inform their CEO from time to time about which direction the company was heading? Weren’t they providing cash flow or Income statements to the CEO to understand his company’s assets or liabilities? So, this situation in Evaly did not happen suddenly.

Emotions through whining don’t add up to anything when there is money involved. 

Evaly’s Rassel not only threw his countless customers, merchants, and stakeholders into uncertainty, but his employees’ futures as well in this pandemic, when getting a job is more difficult than ever.


Muhid Bhuiya has been a Human Resources Manager since 2010, and has worked in various industries in Bangladesh.

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