ekShop, a unique bi-directional e-commerce platform, was the winner of the Bangladesh Business Innovation Award (BBIA) 2019 under the ‘Public Service Innovation’ category. The following is the story of how they achieved this feat.
E-Commerce has seen a steady growth in the last few years in Bangladesh. However, the country dynamics are different than our large neighbors. As there is no single dominant marketplace in the Bangladeshi e-commerce industry, the market has seen 5-7 dominant platforms competing with each other. However, whilst the country has made tremendous strides in internet proliferation (Almost 90% geographic area covered with 3G, Total 87 mn Mobile internet subscribers*), the logically related growth in the eCommerce industry is not reciprocated. Core reasons can be identified as an overbearing lack of trust by rural citizens on digital transactions, low financial inclusion and a complete lack of end mile logistics connectivity.
A2i thus formulated a unique platform to address all those issues. ekShop as a platform is connected with 90% of the leading eCommerce platform as well as 80% of the leading logistics providers. This platform leverages the Union Digital Centers as service delivery points, thus for the first time in Bangladesh, enabling the rural populace to avail or buy e-commerce products from their nearest centers. ekShop has reached to 3492 Union Digital Centers. With a total of 2.5 Lac customers served and over 18 thousand last-mile parcel delivery made Furthermore, the uniqueness of the platform also is shown in the fact that once any rural product is uploaded into the system, it becomes automatically available throughout the connected eCommerce platforms. Thus ekShop created for the first time in the country, a truly bi-directional e-commerce journey connecting rural producers as well as buyers with the urban marketplaces.
Lastly, the simple fact that the eCommerce growth only focused previously on 30% urban population of the country where 70% of the population lives in rural areas, gives ekShop a humongous growth potential.