Led by an entrepreneurial young generation, the e-commerce industry is expanding fast in Bangladesh. The fact that an e-commerce company can be set up without investing in a traditional a brick and mortar storefront, makes matters all the more exciting! While rushing headfirst into this lucrative business green field might appear enticing, a good idea would be knowing which easy pitfalls to avoid.
Leaving all buzz-creating activities till launch time: you need to create a buzz around your brand from early on, give or take 3-6 months prior to launching. At least start with a facebook page. Post regular, relevant and meaningful contents to entice viewers. When viewers see your products eventually, they will have a high probability of taking action (i.e. purchasing) if they are familiar with your brand.
Losing hope too early on: if you really expected your business’s bank account to swell within the first week of operation, you were too optimistic. Business builds up slowly. Buyers need to know you first, before they part with cash to obtain your goods. So don’t lose hope and stay put!
Not re-confirming delivery request with buyer: Make sure you call your client and re-re-confirm on the day of delivery as well. Otherwise you run the risk of having to resend your courier guys to the same address with the same package on a different day. It’s an additional hassle especially in a cash-on-delivery market like Bangladesh, no matter who foots the bill.
Underestimating the power of offline: never miss an opportunity to meet your customers in person! Whether you are selling clothing or book or even food, meeting customers is a must. New comers in the e-commerce industry struggle to establish their names. A sure way to establish direct contact with the target market is through participation in fairs or other networking events. Bangladeshi customers are still a long way off from blindly trusting an e-commerce company to deliver as promised (and quite rightly so!). Once they see, touch and feel your product physically, they would be more willing to make a virtual purchase from you afterwards.
Ignoring your own FnF circle: if you are planning to take your selling-from-living-room business to the next level, against your traditional-minded family’s wish, you might be under a lot of pressure to prove yourself. And fast! At a time like this you might be tempted to step out and seek a greater pool of customers outside the existing circle consisting of your aunts, cousins and mom’s friends. A good idea is not to alienate these people who have patronized you even if that was out of sheer camaraderie. Rather encourage them to spread the word for you.
Waiting for perfection: just go ahead and launch! Even if it’s a test launch, just do it. Waiting till you have pressed out all the wrinkles and perfected your service/product is likely to take away your conviction. Kick start early on. Ask your own network to pose as customers and test your prototype. Take their feedback. You’ll be amazed at the level of improvements you can bring about.
Narmin Tartila is a Lecturer at the North South University. She is also the CMO and Co-founder of Fashion2go, an online startup. Before returning to Bangladesh, she served as a Pre-search & Planning Consultant at SAP Asia Pacific Japan, in Singapore. She also worked as a Brand Manager in Reckitt Benckiser Bangladesh Ltd.