Nowadays, many entrepreneurs bring various products from abroad and sell them online. there are several established businesses in the country that import various types of products from international sellers. When importing products from international sellers from different countries like China, India, Malaysia, and Singapore, many customers or traders have various issues such as customs clearance, VAT, tax, LC, and shipment-related issues. These organizations mainly provide services to facilitate these types of issues. However, when ordering through such organizations, it is seen in many cases that the right product is not available after the order. Many organizations even take one to two months for delivery. And most of the time entrepreneurs are required to provide a 70 to 80 percent advance payment at the time of ordering.
The duration it takes to receive the ordered products, even with advance payment, can present a substantial risk to both small and medium businesses that operate both online and offline. China Online BD has been offering a solution to the challenges and risks faced by traders since 2016. This initiative provides small and medium-sized entrepreneurs in Bangladesh with the opportunity to import authentic products. The platform allows entrepreneurs to browse through a selection of around 200 million products offered by 1 million Chinese sellers and make purchases that are relevant to their business needs. Since the platform directly works with local suppliers in China, they deliver products in just 12 to 24 days at reasonable prices and with minimal shipping charges.
Overview of China Online BD
Entrepreneurs are catering to the needs of customers across Bangladesh through online F-commerce, as well as local markets in different regions of the country. And they’re achieving this by purchasing imported products from different countries, including China, as well as various business hubs and wholesale markets within Bangladesh. However, due to the fact that these business hubs of the country import via various means, the price of the product increases several times from the actual price.
Also importing small quantities directly from China is not financially viable for a small or medium entrepreneur. As a result of this, numerous companies have emerged in the country, offering direct product import services from China. These companies mainly offer these services by working with various e-commerce platforms and regional distributors in China.
Thanks to these platforms, small and medium entrepreneurs can buy products and goods in bulk by following the simple steps of placing an order and making a payment on the website without having to worry about the complexities of customs clearance, VAT, tax, LC, and shipment facilitation. But although several problems have been solved in this new system, new types of problems have been created for small and medium traders. Despite solving several issues in this new system, it has resulted in the emergence of new challenges for small and medium traders. In many cases, it was seen that due to some mistake of the Chinese supplier, the buyers did not get the product they ordered.
Meanwhile, due to the cross-border trade, it is not possible to send this product back to the Chinese seller, so in many cases, such businesses hesitate to give refunds or do not give refunds at all. Hence, small traders in the country fall into risk. Moreover, a significant portion of the total amount must be paid in advance when placing orders on such platforms. For small and medium entrepreneurs, investing this amount of money and waiting for 1-2 months is very risky for the business. Besides, if the wrong product arrives after making the advance payment, the entrepreneurs have to suffer more due to complications with the refund.
Thereby, in 2016, Bangladeshi entrepreneur Md. Asaduzzaman Chowdhury, along with Chinese citizen Miss Jiang Curren, established China Online BD, a product import service that provides products from China without any hassle. The company gradually established arrangements to source and import products from China not only for local businessmen in the country but also for big importers.
Till 2019, the entire operation of China Online BD was conducted offline, but founder Asaduzzaman Chowdhury noticed that several companies like theirs have already started providing services online. Following that, he also strategized the online business expansion of the company and eventually, in 2019, the website for China Online BD was established. But, in the latter part of that year, when the corona epidemic took a terrible shape in China. And when the lockdown began around the world, all kinds of export-import trading around the world is disrupted. Meanwhile, as the new website was not user-friendly, in 2020 the company completely shut down its website and continued operations only through its Facebook page.
In 2021, when the Corona situation is somewhat normal, China Online BD starts to rebuild its website again. The company has its own purchasing team in China who directly sources local market products in China based on orders as per customer requirements from Bangladesh. According to the company, this is why China Online BD is able to offer products at a lower price than other platforms. Besides, the company guarantees delivery of the ordered products to the customer’s doorstep in just 12 to 24 days with minimum shipping charges. Later, China Online BD’s website was re-launched in 2022 with 20 crore products from 10 lakh authentic suppliers with the purchase and online and offline teams located in Bangladesh and China.
Any customers can easily order products according to their needs through the China Online BD website as well as the mobile app. After placing an order, other platforms usually require an advance payment of 70 to 80 percent of the total bill to confirm the order whereas China Online BD only takes 40 percent advance payment. The platform facilitates entrepreneurs to make payments through almost all mobile financial services (MFS) and all types of local currency cards, such as Bikash, Cash, and SureCash. In addition, China Online BD also provides an EMI facility for payment to entrepreneurs.
After the order confirmation, the platform’s purchase team buys the product according to the customer’s demand. Once the purchase is made, the Chinese suppliers deliver the products to China Online BD’s warehouse address in Guangzhou, China within 1 to 2 days. After the evaluation of the products from China, they are packaged and sent by air to Bangladesh. After the shipment reaches Bangladesh, customs and all other steps are handled by China Online BD itself, and the products are brought to their warehouse in the country after proper customs clearance from the airport. From there, the product is sorted and sent to the customer’s designated address. According to the company, China Online BD takes only 12 days for this entire process. In the event of any delay in delivery, the company ensures that the delivery is fulfilled within a maximum of 24 days.
In addition, if 45 days have passed due to any unforeseen reason, China Online BD refunds the entire amount paid in advance to the buyer. Besides, if any damaged or wrong product arrives, the buyer is promptly refunded subject to proper proof. Moreover, China Online BD has its own customer support team in the country who provide various services to customers through mobile phone, live chat, and direct messaging on the Facebook page every day from 10 am to 12 pm. Moreover, the company’s experienced marketing team is working to provide various marketing solutions and strategic planning to aspiring young entrepreneurs. Apart from this, for B2B, the company offers the opportunity to purchase sample products worth up to a minimum of BDT 500.
According to China Online BD, the platform currently has over 5,000 active customers. Besides having its head office, outlet, and warehouse in Uttara, the company also has its own agents in several areas both outside and inside Dhaka. Besides, the company has its own agents and offices in 12 districts and various upazilas of the country including Rangpur, Chittagong, Sylhet, Mymensingh, Bogura, and Rajshahi. These agents are encouraging small and medium businessmen in their respective districts and upazilas to become more sustainable by importing products from China and conducting business.
Apart from ensuring customer satisfaction from the beginning of the journey, China Online BD is working to make the import of products easier and hassle-free for the small entrepreneurs of the country who cannot import products by themselves and have to depend on someone else. As a result, currently, many small entrepreneurs of the country are able to manage their own businesses by directly importing products from China with the help of China Online BD. In addition, they are currently planning to expand their business in the African region as well. Moreover, in order to grow their business on a larger scale in the future, almost every district and upazila of the country is working to appoint their own agents. The organization believes that if they can stick to their plans and manage their business, they can create at least 10,000 new entrepreneurs in the country by 2045.