More success stories need to be highlighted to retain the trust of consumers, merchants, and other stakeholders of the sector
To restore consumer confidence and sustain the desired growth of the e-commerce sector, victim to many schemes, the government needs to formulate a constructive framework in collaboration with the stakeholders of the sector.
The e-commerce sector grew faster than any other segment of the information technology and communication (ICT) division, specifically following the advent of the pandemic, incubated through entrepreneurs and service providers of the sector by providing innovation.
However, risky business practices by some rogue e-commerce platforms have not just put consumers and merchants at risk, the entire sector now faces a risk of losing out on potential foreign investors who had previously shown interest in entering the local market, according to the E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB).
According to e-CAB, entrepreneurs are still working through various limitations, “Banks or financial institutions are reluctant to invest in this sector. Providing services at the marginal level has been tough and such a huge blow during the crucial hours of development has slowed down the momentum of the sector.
“Entrepreneurs have been working through various problems and limitations in this sector since its inception, and with the much-needed intervention of the government to regulate the sector, we have been unable to return to our initial trajectory of continuous growth.
“This is because conducting business in line with the policy and providing accurate and quality services to our customers have been limited," said Sahab Uddin Shipon, vice president of e-CAB.
He also said that apart from buyers and merchants suffering because of risky business practices, a negative impression has spread abroad and the possibility of foreign investment in the sector is now facing uncertainty.
In that regard, success stories need to be highlighted more, according to e-CAB, as the association emphasizes highly on the need to sustain the trust of consumers, merchants, and other stakeholders of the sector.
According to the association, businesses that want to serve the buyers properly have not backed down and have also seen demands for their services with the sign for potential growth of the sector.
Nasima Akhter Nisha, the additional secretary of e-CAB, said that most of the small entrepreneurs in e-commerce are women and the policy support of the government for the expansion of the sector was certainly positive.
“Much needs to be done to increase investment and develop infrastructure. The small businesses will work to maintain the trust that they have built through their service. But consumers of the sector can also help by availing services and buying responsibly,” added the official.
In this regard, the association has pledged to work with the government and entrepreneurs to restore consumer confidence and sustain the desired growth through solutions to the problems created in the light of recent developments in the country's e-commerce sector.
Mohammad Abdul Wahed Tamal, general secretary of e-Cab, said that the sector has not yet seen profit. But it is creating employment, contributing to the overall economy of the country.
"We want to work with everyone to maintain consumer confidence and the growth in this sector," he said referring to the various steps taken by the government in this regard.
"We are working with the government along with the members to cater to the growth of the sector which is already visible,” he added.
This was stated by the members of the executive council of e-Cab at an event held at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in the capital on November 8.
Ashish Chakraborty, a director of E-Cab said: “The cooperation of buyers and entrepreneurs is needed at this time. We know that trade associations cannot view or control the financial accounts of any organization but the Bangladesh Bank and law enforcement agencies are working to solve the problems that have risen in this case.
“E-Cab is also constantly trying to resolve the issues by drawing the attention of the authorities by making demands through letters. So everyone should work to solve the problem through mutual cooperation.”
Asif Ahnaf, a director of e-Cab, said: “Buyers are the lifeblood of any business and they have to trust the future of digital commerce. And this is why e-Cab, despite being a trade organization, has been working tirelessly with various government agencies to protect the interests of consumers in the past.”
“The guidelines announced by the government are to protect the interests of both buyers and entrepreneurs. Stability will return to the sector only through collaborative efforts,” he added.
“The whole ecosystem cannot be damaged by a handful of corrupt individuals or institutions. Hundreds of crores of taka are stuck with customers and merchants due to legal processes. This condition may not last long. But because of this, many of the affected entrepreneurs may be forced to close down their businesses,” said Saeed Rahman, director of e-Cab.
Therefore, the government should be on their side not only through policy but also through financial investment and loans. He appealed for a quick release of the money that is stuck.
E-Cab called for amending and monitoring the existing laws without creating new laws and regulatory authorities.