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Bangladesh apparel makers’ presence in online platforms is must to offset market loss due to COVID-19

Textile Today-Alibaba webinar on exploring online market places to increase export

Business is shrinking all over the world due to COVID-19 pandemic. People now merely go for physical shopping. Many reports have stated that currently, people are more inclined to online shopping.

Tareq-Amin-CEO-Textile-Today
Figure 1: The webinar moderated by Tareq Amin, Founder and CEO of Textile Today.

Here B2B platforms like Alibaba can play a vital role for Bangladesh and businesses can grow further if entrepreneurs think and act dynamically.

On 20 June 2020, a webinar on ‘Exploring Online Market Places for Increasing Export’ has been organized by Textile Today – supported by Alibaba.com 8– where industry prominent entrepreneurs and experts explained how the future business can be transformed through online platforms.

Kyaw Sein Thay Dolly, Managing Director of Cloths ‘R’ Us Ltd and MM Uddin, Manager, Sales & Marketing, Amin and Jahan Corporation Ltd were the Keynote speakers. Kazi Iftekhar, President, Bangladesh Garment Buying House Association (BGBA); Abdullah Hil Rakib, Managing Director, Team Group and Ashfaque Ahmed, CEO, Base Textiles Ltd were the honorable panel members. The webinar moderated by Tareq Amin, Founder and CEO of Textile Today.

Kyaw Sein Thay Dolly, one of the Keynote speakers forecasted that Bangladesh may lose about 10-15 billion dollars of its export due to the impact of COVID-19 in one year and stressed the necessity of increasing its apparel makers’ presence in global online platforms.

Even in pandemic rise of sales in online platforms indicates a certain future bringing more customers to online platforms not only in the B2C level but also in the B2B level. As physical distancing is being the new norm and as global traveling will come down significantly, using online platforms and applications will increase drastically in the coming days.

Abdullah-Hi-Rakib-Team-Group
Figure 2: Abdullah Hil Rakib, Managing Director, Team Group.

Product portfolio design to supply chain structure everything is different in the case of businesses through online platforms. The speakers acknowledged that the current manufacturing and supply chain structure of Bangladesh is completely different from the need of the online business chain. So, the country needs to go through a substantial transformation to make it happen.

Kazi Iftekhar, President, BGBA stressed the need for policy support for making the transition happened. He told that from financial channels to duty structure redesign a lot of changes are required to make the country suitable to grab a potential chunk from global online markets.

The speakers assured that the current supply chain is not going to disappear fully so Bangladesh will remain strong on serving the traditional supply chain of fast fashion brands, but they agreed that the use of online-based decision making and communication will certainly be incorporated in most of the business process.

3D product design to sample approval process many pre and post-production activities is going to go online to reduce physical involvement and to make the supply chain faster.

Kazi-Iftekhar-BGBA
Figure 3: Kazi Iftekhar, President, Bangladesh Garment Buying House Association (BGBA).

Lower lead time, lower-order size, or lot, stock to raw materials are some key things the companies should have for aligning their factories for online platforms. However, the speakers stressed on the necessity of a shift in mindset first. If the companies remain content on easy life in dealing with volume orders and less variation it will not be possible for them to start for this market segment.

Bangladesh must prepare itself to better serve through those platforms. A strategic shift should be the first step to do. And Bangladeshi resilient entrepreneurs always can do that.

Said Abdullah Hil Rakib, Managing Director, Team Group. He expressed his optimism that when it was needed Bangladeshi companies always did it, and now also these companies certainly can adapt to a new situation.

Kyaw-Sein-Thay-Dolly-Cloths-R-Us-Ltd
Figure 4: Kyaw Sein Thay Dolly, Managing Director of Cloths ‘R’ Us Ltd and MM Uddin.

In Europe and America, consumer behavior is changing very fast from fashion to functionality. Antibacterial and antiviral product demand will rise high in the coming season said Ashfaque Ahmed, CEO, Base Textiles Ltd. He also strongly pointed out that brands like Sears, J. C. Penney, Debenhams, DVF Studio UK, Lulu Giunness, Neiman Markus, etc. got bankrupted mainly because of their failure to adopt e-commerce.

For same reason, we are also suffering as we are only working with these traditional brands and buyers. Entrepreneurs must have to adopt diversified ways of business to sustain in the race.

Marketing strategy, plan and preparation all need to be changed from the current composer. To reduce market risk companies now can have a separate marketing segment to gain orders through online platforms.

Ashfaque-Ahmed-Base-Textiles-Ltd
Figure 6: Ashfaque Ahmed, CEO, Base Textiles Ltd.

Alibaba, the biggest B2B export platform, can one of the biggest sources of orders for the companies told MM Uddin, Manager, Sales of Amin & Corporation Ltd. Amin & Corporation Ltd is the global service partner of Alibaba.com in Bangladesh.

The speakers suggested Bangladeshi apparel makers to target to shift a certain portion of the order to the online platforms and asked the companies to align their marketing, product development and manufacturing for that.

Making own product portfolio gives multiple advantages and presenting those collections using online platforms will reduce the cost of communication to the customers.

MM-Uddin-Amin-Corporation
Figure 6: MM Uddin, Manager, Sales & Marketing, Amin and Jahan Corporation Ltd was a Keynote speaker.

A small marketing team is enough to answer the queries coming through the platforms. Capable companies can start to shift 5 to 10% of their capacity for this market.

The necessary alignment of the manufacturing floors to deal with small orders is not difficult as opined by Abdullah Hil Rakib. He told that platforms like Alibaba must be explored with full attention.

Abdullah Hil Rakib and Kazi Iftekhar promised to do the needful to attain policy in place by talking to the government authorities.

The need for training and capacity building was stressed in the webinar.

Alibaba representative later promised that they can help the companies by providing necessary training to prepare their marketing, product development and production team ready to explore online platforms.

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