Though the online sale of luxury and non-essential items witnessed a sharp fall, the sale of daily essentials increased by 3-4 times as the government has declared a long general holiday to fight the deadly coronavirus.
The online sale of all types of products other than essential ones like groceries have almost come to a halt and the delivery system got badly hampered due to the current situation, said insiders.
“The sale of daily essentials and groceries has significantly increased but that of food declined as restaurants remain closed now. When it comes to other products, the sale has almost stopped,” said AKM Fahim Mashroor, Chairman and CEO of ajkerdeal.com.
The delivery system has almost collapsed for lack of deliverymen in this critical situation and the suspension of postal service following the announcement of the 10-day holiday which wah extended later, he said.
Many deliverymen left Dhaka due to the virus fear, he said.
Fahim said they used to receive 80-90 percent purchase orders from outside Dhaka which now remain halted as there is no postal services or transport services between Dhaka and other districts.
Le Reve, a famous fashion and lifestyle brand, does not receive any online purchase order now, said its general manager SM Iqbal.
“We used to get some 100 purchase orders through online a day before the current situation, but now we get no order,” he said adding that all sorts of its activities have come to a standstill.
Muhammad Abdul Wahed Tomal, General Secretary of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), said the online shopping has declined now due to the pandemic.
“The online sale of daily essentials and groceries increased three-four times now than the normal time. But the sale of luxury items and other products has almost stopped,” he said.
The e-CAB general secretary said the cross-border e-commerce from Bangladesh has also sharply declined due to the global outbreak of coronavirus.
The services sectors, including tourism, are badly affected due to the coronavirus outbreak, he added.
The online shopping of particularly essentials has gone up in China and India amid the outbreak of coronavirus, he said expressing his optimism that such trend will also be seen in Bangladesh as people are staying home due to the pandemic.
The e-CAB has sent leaflets to its members saying how the online companies can train up its deliverymen and other employees over sanitization to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
The e-CAB is also providing stickers to the deliverymen and vehicles to keep the delivery system uninterrupted in this situation, said Tomal adding that they suggested them to keep delivery of their goods outside the capital limited with the restart of some private services, including Daraz and Sundarban courier services during the general holidays.
Noting that small entrepreneurs are severely being affected now, he demanded incentive from the government for them.
Tomal said they also get permission from Dhaka Divisional Commissioner so that the goods delivery of their online companies is not obstructed by security men on the streets.
He said the Access to Information (a2i) programme of the government in collaboration with e-CAB and other stakeholders has recently finalised a Business Continuity Plan to continue the delivery of the essential items across the country with the use of technology amid the crisis situation.
In this plan, it was suggested that the medicines and groceries can be delivered through the e-commerce companies, he said.
The government announced the 10-day general holiday in the country from March 26 to April 4 and then extended it up to April 25 suggesting people to stay home and maintain social distancing to prevent the transmission of Covid-19.