How to use Alibaba.com in Bangladesh
Small is beautiful, dynamic, and can turn explosive with the right impetus and a futuristic economic strategy executed in the present, especially in the area of exports. That is a nutshell definition of a country the size of Georgia in the USA. With a population of around 166 million making it the eighth-most populous nation in the world, it is fast headed towards an export revolution and the growing middle-class with deep pockets clamoring for more consumer goods and stuff. Thus, this country has a great potential for other nations to explore and foster stronger trade relations.
Yes, it’s Bangladesh, and she’s making waves the world over for her galloping economy. Its per capita GDP is likely to surpass that of India by 2025 as per IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook. Right now, its per capita income is $280 higher than India’s $1,947.
Once described as a “bottomless basket” by US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Bangladesh is fast emerging as a bull economy, outpacing giant neighbor India in many indices of economic or human development.
Bangladesh economy and the export scenario – an overview
The booming economy
Bangladesh has enjoyed a consistent annual GDP growth rate of over six percent since 2005, though growth in 2020-21 is likely to slow down because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Much of Bangladesh’s economic growth continues to be driven by exports from the $28.0 billion ready-made garments (RMG) industry and the continued remittance inflows from expatriate labor, which reached a record $18.2 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2019-20.1
Knit or crochet clothing and accessories constitute nearly 45% of the exports from this nation valued at US$20.3 billion.2 Ranked second is the clothing and accessories accounting for $19.4 billion and makes up roughly 43% of the exports. Other export products include footwear, paper yarn, woven fabric, etc.
The government of Bangladesh actively seeks foreign investment, particularly in the apparel industry, light manufacturing, energy, power, agribusiness, and infrastructure sectors.
Bangladesh has one of the lowest wage rates in the world, which has fueled an expanding industrial base led by the RMG industry; however, it is well-positioned to diversify its exports and move up the value chain. The country also has large pharmaceutical, footwear, agricultural-processing, and ship-building industries. Other important sectors include construction, Information, and Communication Technology (ICT) and business process outsourcing, light engineering, leather products, jute, and ceramic products.
There is a great scope for e-commerce giants to take the economy of Bangladesh to the next level.
The largest economic and financial hub in Bangladesh is Dhaka which hosts the country’s major seaport and handles more than 90 percent of the country’s international trade. It is the primary economic, political, and cultural center of Bangladesh.
Next to follow is Chattogram. Nearly 26 million Bangladeshis concentrated mainly in Dhaka and Chattogram have annual incomes exceeding $12,000, offering a sizable market for goods and services.
The insufficient power supply is a significant obstacle to Bangladesh’s economic development. Another issue is the low-cost recovery due to low tariffs and poor economic efficiency, especially in urban areas.4
Overcoming the hurdles
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Bangladesh profoundly.
Resolving long-term structural challenges could accelerate the post-COVID-19 recovery. Reform priorities include diversification of exports beyond the RMG sector, deepening the financial sector, improving urbanization, and strengthening public governance.
Addressing infrastructure gaps would accelerate growth and reduce spatial disparities in opportunities across regions and within cities. Human capital development remains a priority as well. While Bangladesh’s ranking on the Human Capital Index is higher than the South Asian average, it is below the levels observed in comparator countries.4
Addressing vulnerability to climate risks would support the resilience of economic development to future shocks.
With the right policies and timely action, Bangladesh can accelerate its recovery from the economic downturn and continue to progress towards upper-middle-income status.
E-Commerce -The winds of change in Bangladesh
The future of shopping is in a fast transition from the traditional look-and-feel shopping experience to online in Bangladesh. These are akin to trends the world over.
The e-commerce scenario in Bangladesh
– Internet penetration at 47.61 million (28.8%)5
– Smartphone users 165.8 million (100.2% of the population)6
– Worsening traffic condition – 36% of the country’s urban population living in Dhaka which is one of the world’s most densely populated cities
– Young population
– 45% of the population are potential e-commerce users
Cross-border e-commerce remains largely inhibited by a viable online transaction system and capital controls that prevent most outward flows of foreign currency for consumer purposes. In addition, weak logistics infrastructure and irregular customs practices hinder the growth of cross-border e-commerce. However, leading logistics provider DHL publicly announced plans to invest in cross-border e-commerce in the future.7
The local e-commerce players
Some of the prominent e-commerce players in Bangladesh who made early inroads are Bagdoom, Chaldal, Kishka, Bikroy, Rokomari, Daraz, Ajkerdeal, Pickaboo, Evaly, Othoba, Jadroo, Priyoshop, Banglashoopers, Directfresh, and Dorpon.
Ajkerdeal.com follows the online marketplace model, making deliveries for a small commission of 8% to 10% without inventories. Directfresh deals with organic fruits and vegetables while Dorpon works with local handicraft artisan items.
Prevailing challenges faced by e-commerce ventures in the country to be borne in mind
The e-commerce space in Bangladesh is confronting some challenges as a result the entrepreneurs are yet to maximize their benefits.
Credibility: Trust issue confronting customers that the products they receive do not match the image viewed on the screen at the time of purchase.
Logistics: Managing their logistics and transportation requirements is a big issue while dealing with a huge volume of deliveries every day both inside and outside of Dhaka. Operations of a few e-delivery companies are some solace in helping to handle their large delivery requirements.
Supply chain and merchant illiteracy: Inadequate warehousing facility and unstructured inventory management are resulting in delays in-order delivery. Non-tech savvy e-commerce merchants in addition to illiteracy are posing hurdles to growth in these ventures.
F-Commerce: The 41 million strong Facebook users are attracting new start-up ventures and beginning to erode the traditional e-commerce customer base.8
Funding: Due to a lack of collateral, e-commerce start-ups are not being wholeheartedly backed by banks and financial institutions. Realizing the future potential in e-commerce venture capital firms are pitching in.
Human Resource: This sector needs adventurous youngsters at the base level and adaptive, tech-savvy leaders at the top. Finding this right combination is difficult and poses a challenge.
Exploring Alibaba.com in Bangladesh
Alibaba.com is one of the world’s largest online B2B trading platforms. It is a wholesale marketplace where you can buy and sell products in bulk, affordably. As of June 2020, the company had 758 million active users which are more than twice the entire population of the United States.9
It specializes in B2B sales services online and is a part of the Alibaba Group, a Chinese multinational technology company specializing in e-commerce, retail, Internet, and technology.
Foray into Bangladesh
Let’s take a look at some of the ventures of Alibaba Group into the Bangladesh e-commerce marketplace.
May 2018 – Alibaba lands in the e-commerce space of Bangladesh. It snaps up Daraz, a major e-commerce player in the country.
March 2021 – Alibaba enters the food delivery scene in Bangladesh with the acquisition of Hungary Naki via its local arm Daraz Group.
What is the B2B concept of Alibaba.com?
Alibaba.com’s business-to-business trading platform connects manufacturers and wholesalers with buyers from around the world. Merchants pay annual sellers’ fees to Alibaba.com. They can list a limited number of products for free but have the option to pay for a range of benefits such as greater exposure on the site and unlimited product listings.
As of June 2020, the company had 758 million active users. Over 20 million buyers from approximately 190 countries had sourced business opportunities or completed transactions on Alibaba.com, in the 12 months ended March 31, 2020. Alibaba recorded $74.1 billion worth of orders on Nov. 11, 2020.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I list my products on Alibaba.com?
– Global reach in nearly 190 countries
– As of June 2020, the company had 758 million active users
– Over 20 million buyers in just 12 months ended March 31, 2020
– One of the largest B2B e-commerce platform globally
– Cut overhead expenses
– Expand global customer base for your product
– Directly ship to the wholesaler or retailer worldwide via Alibaba
– List a limited number of products for free
– Option to pay for a range of benefits such as greater exposure on the site and unlimited product listings
Can I both buy and sell on Alibaba?
Absolutely yes and yes!
How is AliExpress different from Alibaba.com?
Both are e-commerce marketplaces. With Alibaba.com you’re dealing with manufacturers selling products in large quantities but with Aliexpress you have branded products that you can purchase in single quantities for a slightly higher price.
AliExpress is the retail to Alibaba.com’s wholesale. Sometimes, business owners like to use Aliexpress to test products before placing larger orders on Alibaba.com.
Generally speaking, Alibaba.com is more suited for experienced entrepreneurs with an existing audience to keep risks low, while AliExpress is good for experimenting with a range of products and running a passive income business.
The Alibaba marketplace model for Bangladesh
Set up a store that showcases your brand.
Differentiate yourself from the competition with a full store dedicated to your products
Don’t fret about coding or design skills, because none is necessary!
Increase exposure by up to 120% with a suite of smart advertising tools.
Get your products placed in the right spots to be noticed by the exact audience you are targeting.
Optimize your every move with in-depth data and customer insights.
Improve performance with dashboards detailing product exposure, click volume, spend, average cost, store visits, and more.
Sounds exciting? Please read on…
Basic requisites for potential sellers in Bangladesh to list their wares on Alibaba.com
1. Register on Alibaba.com
2. Establish Your company profile
- Type of business
- Products you plan to sell
- Company size
- Target markets (where you hope to sell your product(s)/service(s)
Stay ahead of the competition by enhancing buyer confidence. Add product test results, safety standards, and certifications, especially while exploring EU markets.
3. List your products
- Precise descriptions and images
- Increase the number of products listings to augment product search results and exposure to potential partners
4. Be a good communicator – this is an international marketplace
- Rapid response and communication with potential and existing buyers
- Establish and maintain healthy relationships with clients
- Use Alibaba.com’s “Message Center” to manage communications
5. Become a Gold Supplier
Becoming a Gold Supplier can benefit from Alibaba.com’s resources like customer base and special site features to exploit its full potential and bolster your sales. Some of the services and benefits gold suppliers can enjoy include:
- Own custom webpage
- Priority rankings in their search results
- Unlimited product postings (free memberships cap at 50)
- Ability to quote buying requests
- Access to product showcases, and accelerate product views a hundredfold
- Receive preferential treatment
- 1st ranked product placements
- 28 product showcases (Standard and Basic members receive 12 and 5, respectively)
6. Take advantage of Alibaba.com’s educational and training resources
– Basics of foreign trade
– Industry analysis
– Alibaba platform basics
Other key parameters for potential Bangladeshi sellers for listing on Alibaba.com
a. Licensed companies
b. Manufacturers and exporters who are into B2B
c. Target industries: Textiles, Garments, Leather & Leather Goods, Pharmaceuticals, Ceramic Products, Bicycles, Jute and Jute Goods, IT, Agricultural Products, Frozen Food
d. Language criteria – predominantly English. But when venturing globally into the EU, China, Korea, Japan… engaging professional translators and interpreters to transcend communication barriers like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French, Italian… languages will forge stronger business relationships and spur exports.
Sell on Alibaba.com
Well then, if you’re keen to expand your market reach and take advantage of international sales opportunities, then Alibaba.com is a sure-shot one-stop solution. Make the most of your role as an Alibaba.com seller and let your products rule the world market.