At Least Two Years’ Funding Is Necessary Before Starting An E-Commerce Business: Bagdoom CEO Syeda Kamrun Ahmed

The e-commerce site Bagdoom started its journey from 2011. After 5 years, it has now positioned itself as one of the popular e-commerce platforms in Bangladesh.

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CEO of Bagdoom Syeda Kamrun Ahmed started her company along with two e-commerce experts, Mr. Imran Khan, chief strategy officer of Snapchat, and Mr. Shameem Ahsan, Chairman of BASIS Presidents’ Forum. Kamrun graduated in chemical engineering from BUET and later completed her MBA from North South University.

Before starting Bagdoom, Kamrun worked at the banking sector and a software company names e-generation. Applying all those experiences she took the helm of Bagdoom to take the prospective e-commerce forward in Bangladesh.

She talked about the recent condition of Bangladesh’s e-commerce, the challenges, marketing plan of Bagdoom and the prospects of e-commerce in the country in an interview with SD Asia. Along with these she also gave some tips for the entrepreneurs in the e-commerce sector.

The early days of Bagdoom:

In 2011 Bagdoom started its journey with the name of ekhoni.com. It wasn’t an easy start for them.

Kamrun said, “In 2011 most people in Bangladesh didn’t even have a clue about how the business in the e-commerce sector would work. It was quite challenging for us to make them realize how easy their shopping would be with the help of e-commerce.”

She said, many people from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and India started growing interest in e-commerce since then. Particularly those working in urban areas frequently used e-commerce sites for shopping. Kamrun and other co-founders of bagdoom kept this notion in mind.

Especially considering the traffic in Dhaka city, they thought about revolutionizing e-commerce. From that idea, they thought of bringing all kinds of shopping products in one platform. Kamrun even thought about the working women of Bangladesh. Besides making shopping easier for working people, it also saves a lot of time through home delivery services.

From these inspirations, they started their e-commerce business Bagdoom. At the beginning, Bagdoom founding members worked out the business plan along with the skilled developers’ team from BUET and an experienced digital marketing team. Even before that, they thought about the funding for Bagdoom.

Challenges at the beginning of the e-commerce business In Bangladesh:

Kamrun said, in 2011 they faced problems as there was no online payment gateway in Bangladesh. Online payment began started Bangladesh that year and hence bagdoom began its journey officially by June of 2011.

Bagdoom struggled a lot to reach its customers in its initial days. So they targeted the working people from the cities and the university students and designed their marketing campaign likewise.

To make the young people interested in purchasing things through e-commerce, bagdoom made the acquainted by visiting different universities. They also encouraged their friend circle and close people and got their primary customers through that.

But now, over half of the customers of Bagdoom are from outside Dhaka, according to Kamrun. She even expects that the number will increase in a few months.

Bangladesh yet does not have ‘pick- up points’ like most developed countries. As a result, customers do not have the opportunity to check their products before buying. Bagdoom has plans to work with such ‘pick-up points’.

Present team of Bagdoom:

Bagadoom began with a team of few people. Now Kamrun is working with a group of about 60 people.

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Bagdoom using various courier and delivery services to deliver the products outside Dhaka. However, kamrun gave hints that Bagdoom has recent plans for the delivery service.

 

E-commerce, online shopping, and Bangladeshi customer’s behavior:

 

In the beginning, it was quite difficult to sell products to customers and gain their trust. Now the situation has eased and people are buying online products.

People are spending more busy times than before. Thus they are purchasing online products out of necessities. Bagdoom targeted these busy working people.

Kamrun said,bagdoom never compromises with quality. She believes they were able to gain customer trust through high-quality products and customer care. She suggested the new e-commerce businesses provide a quality product and thereby gain customer’s faith.

She also said there is no alternative to timely delivery and supplying quality products. All these require a high budget and funding, she said.

She also suggested understanding the target group and using digital marketing to post in social media. She also suggested the new entrepreneurs be updated with new technologies in the e-commerce sector.

It isn’t possible to take the business forward just by one website or Facebook page. Thus she said. “It would be wise to conduct the business by capitalizing on big plans and funding.”

Branding makes Bagdoom exclusive:

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While asked about the uniqueness of Bagdoom, Kamrun said, “We prioritize a lot on branding. Our branding made Bagdoom unique from the other e-commerce platforms.”

The designer team is very concerned about the branding of Bagdoom. Last year they re-branded Akhoni to Bagdoom.com to attract trendy and energetic youths through new branding plans.

Marketing is also a top priority for Bagdoom. The team is very concerned about the social marketing campaign. Kamrun said, “If a campaign doesn’t work as expected, we try to compensate the loss by a new plan.” She also said Bagdoom utilized the marketing budget very effectively.

Future Plan of Bagdoom:

This first class E-commerce site of Bangladesh is dreaming of going much further. It has a pretty big plan for Delivery Channel which is expected to be coming soon.

Kamrun informed that Bagdoom is going to work on ‘Pick-up Points’ too. This will help the customers from remote areas to inspect the product themselves before buying.

Bagdoom is also trying to smarten its website more by using Artificial Intelligence (AI). Kamrun mentioned it will, therefore, be able to identify products that the customer searched for in the past and is willing to buy from the web browser history. Customers will be able to find their products much faster this way.

Bagdoom wants to grow along with the whole E-commerce ecosystem of Bangladesh. Keeping that in mind, Bagdoom plans to work with those which supply products to other E-commerce organizations and those working with the smaller E-commerce institutions. For that Bagdoom will provide Easy Loan along with technical help among few other benefits. Just like the developed countries, Kamrun believes, E-commerce will also contribute to the GDP of Bangladesh in the near future.

Advice for new E-commerce Entrepreneurs and Organizations

Kamrun gives more importance to funding above all else.

‘At least two years’ funding is necessary before starting an e-commerce business, because it takes almost two years to develop the business properly. A lot of risks is attached and thus planning is needed in order to advance in this line of work’, she emphasizes.

Success comes slow and steady through passing many hostile situations if one dedicates a considerable amount of time to it, adds Kamrun.

That’s why she thinks an entrepreneur needs to evaluate his/her own suitability before pursuing this path. Two to three years of prior experience in other organization is an added bonus. This helps in business planning, networking and team work. She also encourages them to apply for accelerator programs.

Kamrun gives more importance to ‘networking’ for the startups.Specially E-commerce requires networking most since product collection, sales, distribution, funding and administration networking is a must.

SD Asia Desk

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