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17 February, 2020 12:03:27 PM
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Coronavirus hits e-commerce biz

STAFF REPORTER, Dhaka
Coronavirus hits e-commerce biz

Muhtasim Anwar has been ordering various goods, including shoes, bags, toys, and even toiletries, from the Chinese e-commerce giant AliExpress, an online retail service from the Alibaba group, for the past one year. "The products took just four to five days to reach me. The service was excellent. But things have changed following the coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese central province of Hubei," said Anwar.  

"Last month, I placed some orders with AliExpress. Nearly three weeks have passed since then, but there has been no progress in the shipment of my orders,” he added.

While Anwar has been facing problems in getting his products from AliExpress, Tahsin Rahman is faced with a shortage in his business repository.

Over the last few years, Tahsin has built an online shop for toys and collectables. “Almost all of my products come from China. The coronavirus outbreak has seriously disrupted my supply chain. I have stopped taking further orders through my Facebook page as I can’t deliver the goods to my customers,” he told The Independent.     

Like Tahsin, several e-commerce traders of the country are facing disruption in shipments and slump in business under the current coronavirus impact, as major online products are usually imported from China for the growing local market.

Industry insiders say they are waiting for feedback from their Chinese counterparts about the shipment details. Businesses in mainland China are yet to get back to the previous position after the Spring Holidays have been extended following the coronavirus outbreak. “The situation seems grave as our products sold on e-commerce platforms are mainly sourced from China. Their holiday was extended until February 10. If the deadly coronavirus outbreak persists and spreads further, the local e-commerce business will face serious crisis,” said Mohammad Sahab Uddin, vice-president of the E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (E-CAB).

According to the E-CAB, around 60 per cent of local e-commerce products, especially electronic gadgets, are imported from China. Fashion products marketed in online platforms are mostly imported from China, India, and Pakistan, say industry people.

The market of toys and amusement-related online products is dominated by China.

Over the last one or two years, Chinese e-commerce giant AliExpress has become very popular among the country’s urban population. The disruption in AliExpress’s business from the coronavirus “may be worse than feared,” wrote Bloomberg intelligence analysts Vey-Sern Ling and Tiffany Tam in a report. “AliExpress’s sales may contract in its core China retail marketplaces and local services business in the coming quarter, even if the coronavirus outbreak subsides, as logistic and production disruptions faced by merchants could take time to resolve,” the report mentions.

Abdul Wahed Tamal, secretary general of E-CAB, however, said he did not think the impact of the coronavirus was yet apparent in the country’s e-commerce market. “But some small traders could use the opportunity of the virus unfairly, citing unavailability of Chinese goods,” he added.

In a statement, the country’s largest e-commerce company, Daraz Bangladesh, said: “There’s no evidence that indicate cross-border packages or their contents carry any risks. The company is monitoring the situation and will co-operate with relevant authorities. In addition, WHO has also said parcels from China are safe.”

“The only disruption was due to Chinese New Year. Chinese sellers are on holiday, which has been extended until February 10 because of the coronavirus. This is why the delivery timeline of cross-border products has doubled. Currently, 35–40 working days are required as opposed to the normal delivery time of 15 to 20 days,” it added.

BK

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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