How big is the Bangladeshi market to you?
To us, I can say the ecommerce market is about a billion dollars. We have a good share of that.
(Laughs) I can't tell you that. But I can tell you that the ecommerce in total is only about one and a half to two per cent of the retail market. I think in the next five years, it will go to 20 per cent. So it's still very, very small. And when some people ask me, where I see the most growth potential, I say everywhere. We are still at that place where people are just getting used to ecommerce services. They are just getting to understanding how ecommerce can help improve people's lives. And that is in every part of daily lives.
What are your plans, present and future?
My strategies are quite simple. We have three core strategies. Number one is to grow the core marketplace business. And that means getting more customers, more sellers on the platform. And we have a vision of reaching a hundred million global customers. I think half of those should come from Bangladesh. We will continue to grow our seller base, our customer base. And providing services and products to our customers and sellers is the key. That's the most important thing. We will do other things as well. But we have to get that right first of all with trust, product quality, service quality, customer service. We would turn all the basic needs to be one hundred per cent perfect.
That's why the customers will trust you?
That's why they will trust us. Then we can build in on top. Number two priority is logistics, in order for our business model to be profitable. Right now we are not profitable. And we want to be profitable, of course. To do that, we need more scale, we need more logistic efficiency. And that means we need to invest in operations, infrastructure, and network operations to make sure the packages are delivered in the fastest most efficient possible way to the customer. And there is also the comeback from the customer to seller. That should also be an efficient process.
The third strategy is about payment. We are lucky in Bangladesh, we have very good payment infrastructure with banks, with Bkash, other wallets as well. But there is still a long way to go. We still do half of our businesses which is cash based. Cash is very expensive to manage. So in the end we want to migrate more to stabilise payment solutions, because of better customer experience that you don’t need to handle cash. It's faster when you need to get returns for example. They haven’t paid for it sometimes; they spend the money on the something else.
Daraz is one of the largest ecommerce companies in South Asia. What is your experience in Pakistan and other countries? What's the difference with them?
I think the markets in many ways are quite similar. But I would say in Bangladesh I find exceptional entrepreneurship. People really find a way to use a system we give to them. There is huge opportunity, particularly on the seller side. Most people really forget, they know Daraz is a customer-facing app. But the most important app is our seller app where the sellers can manage their entire business from the mobile phone. By giving them the right tools, we can empower SMEs and create new businesses all over the Bangladesh, not only in the metropolitan areas, but also all over the rural areas. And here Bangladesh is really unique. If we give them a product they can use, people will use it. They will learn how to use it.
I know there are some difficulties prevailing in the country now. Some ecommerce companies are doing very bad business, setting bad precedents. What is your experience? Some people are talking about separate authorities, separate law for ecommerce. What is your opinion? What do you want?
I think first of all the ecommerce industry has been impacted by what happened. But I also think that's an opportunity. You have to make sure that everybody understands ecommerce, it really means the future. And it's always not about getting an iPhone at half the price, or to trying to make money or commit fraud. Ecommerce is about service. And that's what you should be. It should be about helping people live their lives in a smarter and a most efficient way. And also create engagement and a social community where you can share and engage both the sellers and the customers. So I see this is an opportunity to really get the brand of ecommerce. And we are working very closely with the government. We think it is good that there are regulations. We think the most important thing regarding the regulations is that it is done in collaboration with the private sectors. So we have the right discussions with the government at the right time. But regulation generally is a good thing. As long as the private sector is involved, and also that the regulator remember that ecommerce is still very small. And this really has an impact on the economy, becomes a part of the digital economy, and helps the overall economy of the Bangladesh. We need to create regulation that allows us in the industry to scale. That's very important.
We know that Alibaba acquired Daraz in 2018. How was that experience. What is the difference between before the acquisition and after?
I would say first of all Alibaba has been a fantastic partner, an amazing shareholder. Very importantly Alibaba is our shareholder. Alibaba is not Daraz. Daraz is Daraz. And we have a shareholder which is called Alibaba. They have been incredibly helpful. The biggest change has really been, the way we think about tech. We always had tech in our DNA from the very start. But with Alibaba, it's tech first. It starts and ends with technology. And that mindset is getting integrated in all parts of our organisation. I think it's been the biggest change that we really become a tech-first company and that culture we have learned from Alibaba.
Exactly the same answer I got from Kamal Quadir of bKash. Exactly the same answer.
We are closely working with bKash. And Kamal is good friend.
Do have something more to say about Daraz?
We want to do business in a healthy way. And ecommerce will be prosperous and a huge part of the digital economy in Bangladesh. And that everybody can take my word for it, if anyone has any issue, always WeChat, email, LinkedIn, you know because Daraz you can trust.
The bottom line is, you are here for a long term.
We are here for a long term. We want to do business in the right way, because Bangladesh is the future.
Why did you choose South Asia?
Number one is population, number two GDP and most important, rising middle class. And people are coming into the middle class. The others are internet penetration and payment. I looked at all parts of the world, and it turned out South Asia is the best.
Thank you too.