Majority of the retail business owners, including small ones, used digital platforms such as websites and Facebook to sell their products online despite shopping malls reopening on May 10
Online sales surpassed the sales in physical stores ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr for the first time ever in the country, as people preferred to stay home and ordering products online while not risking Covid-19 infection by stepping out.
Majority of the retail business owners, including small ones, used digital platforms such as websites and Facebook to sell their products online despite shopping malls reopening on May 10.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, traders said that although customer turnouts in the markets were very low they experienced good online sales. Many of the online shops offered heavy discounts and gifts to attract buyers.
“We see only 10-15 customers daily in our outlets now, while we deal with 35 buyers online on an average,” said Farha Mahmud Trina, owner of TR’s Closet at Banani in the capital.
However¸ both online and offline sales decreased this year compared to last year as Covid-19 diminished many customers' purchasing capacity, she added.
The entrepreneur said that customers were responding better on Facebook.
“We were depressed during early Ramadan as sales were nominal but now we are hopeful,” Trina said, adding that they could reach sales of up to 60% of last year.
“We had huge preparations for Pohela Boishakh and Eid with extensive collections but after the countrywide shutdown we felt hopeless,” said Samia Farah, another entrepreneur in Dhaka.
“From the second week of Ramadan, we started getting good responses on Facebook,” she stated adding that they were now selling Tk4 lakh on average every day.
The crisis forced the majority of the people to stay at home, which turned into an opportunity for online traders.
Customers said online shopping was totally safe and better than going to shopping malls and risk getting infected with the coronavirus.
“Despite the depressing situation, I managed to buy some dresses and other necessary items online before Eid," said an online customer.
However, e-commerce traders lamented how they incurred huge losses during Pohela Boisakh and the upcoming Eid.
Abdul Wahed Tomal, general secretary of the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), said the pandemic had caused its member organizations to incur Tk666 crore in losses so far, not to mention next-to-nothing sales during the Pohela Boishakh and lacklustre Eid sales till now.
However, the situation started to improve after getting permission from the finance ministry to sell stocked products, he added, saying that their sales were increasing now.
No specific names for dresses this time
This year there are no trending names for dresses, unlike previous years. Different fashion retailers are selling Saree, Panjabi, Salwar Kamiz, children's dresses - all in different designs.
Demand for children's clothing was higher this year, traders informed.
Discounts and offers going on
Big fashion houses such as Le Reve, Bishworang, Kay Kraft, Gentle Park, Bata and Apex were offering discounts this year to increase sales, alongside different offers.
Apex is offering 50% off for some products and 12% cash back for Mutual Trust Bank credit cardholders.
Bata is offering 10% cash back in case of payment through mobile financial service Bkash.
Kay Kraft is also offering 30% discount if anyone ordered online.
Besides, popular e-commerce companies including Bagdoom, Ajkerdeal, Othoba, E-valy and PriyoShop are offering discounts, cashback, gifts and gift vouchers.
Complaints of late delivery
Meanwhile, many customers complained that they did not receive their products on time after ordering from online outlets.
Many of them said they could not order online as e-commerce shops were not covering their areas.
e-CAB, in such cases, urged online traders not to take extra orders and ensure delivery before Eid as transportation issues were persisting due to the countrywide shutdown.