Digital commerce and virtual marketplace, in all likelihood, are going to be the major trends going forward! Experts believe that even after a proven vaccination or cure for COVID-19 is found, social distancing will be the new normal post the pandemic, and so would be the virtual marketplaces.
Marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart and the likes have already proved their worth during the peak of the coronavirus crisis by providing breadth of products and depth of stocks, both through owned stock and via the third-party seller ecosystem, which gave the consumers a reassuring and stabilising force in these uncertain times.
Dropping clear hints that retailers should pay attention to online marketplace, seek its benefits, figure out ways and means to leverage and improve their supply chain network, agility and scalability, Giovanni Meda, Founder, Zerogrey and Kooomo, says, “We feel this period of suffering might last longer. Many retailers are becoming more and more aware that online could give them an opportunity to start selling again.”Zerogrey and Kooomo are consulting companies, specialised in building and running online stores for globally renowned brands, and also an expert in creating digital commerce platforms.
With the new normal buying pattern driving more and more traffic online, experts believe the e-commerce channels have become all the more relevant, and retailers need to now rise to the challenge of new consumer behaviour and opportunities to adapt and improve the customer experience.
Always praised for its entrepreneurial spirit and acumen, Bangladesh seems to have realised this quite on time and is also making all possible endeavours to make things happen.
Recently, business leaders in the readymade garment sector under the aegis of the apex garment makers’ body, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), proposed developing a virtual market platform in an effort to dispose of apparel items worth billions of dollars that have been cancelled by the global buyers owing to COVID-19. The business leaders also sought Government’s policy support in devising trade and economic strategies which fit in this context to help sustain the ongoing critical situation.
As per some reports, around 1,150 factories have reported order cancellations by global buyers to the tune of around US $ 3.08 billion, while industry insiders believe that there are scores of other factories that are yet to come up with the volume of cancelled orders. Add to it, the raw materials that have stockpiled in various factories to cater to the orders that have already been placed, but now stand cancelled.
“Buyers have cancelled orders worth billions of dollars, which are now lying with the factories as stocks and need to be done away with in the most feasible way. Besides, the coronavirus pandemic will now significantly shift the world market from physical stores to online, therefore, we feel the necessity of our own virtual marketplace platform,” commented BGMEA President Dr. Rubana Huq, while expressing the garment makers’ wish to go digital.
The apex garment makers’ body of the country as such has called upon the Government to accommodate its proposals in the upcoming budget to help sustain the industry.
As per the experts, even post the coronavirus pandemic, online shopping is likely to gradually replace offline shopping, as consumer sentiments will remain cautious and online sales are expected to witness a marked increase, which will be further supported by increased usage of virtual technologies.
“Going ahead, it will be imperative to hold onto the new customers that have been onboarded during the lockdown period, and hence, it is important to engage with the new customer base who shifted their purchasing habits online and further nurture into long-term customer base,” underlined an industry expert, further adding, “Even once the life starts limping back to normal, a certain class of people will be more conscious while making purchases.”
He also highlighted that brands that were not following an omnichannel route earlier are now looking to establish online platforms and even the most prosperous of bricks-and-mortar stores have been forced to experiment with digital channels with many fashion brands and retailers updating and live-streaming promotions and engaging with their audiences in more ways than one.
Bangladesh garment sector’s approach towards creating a virtual marketplace, thus, seems very much in sync with the need of the hour.