Bangladesh has slipped fifteen notches to 103 in UNCTAD's Business-to-Consumer (B2C) E-commerce Index 2019 released on Monday.
A growing share of the world's population is shopping through online, whereas Bangladesh has only 1 percent of people who do online shopping in the country, as 44 out of every 1 million people have access to secure internet servers, the report says.
The UNCTAD B2C E-commerce Index measures how well an economy is prepared to support online business. The index consists of four indicators – postal reliability index, secure internet servers, share of individuals using the internet and number of individuals who have an account ownership at a financial institution – all of which are tied to online shopping.
The report indicates that shopping through online is much lower in countries at low level of income.
In six countries of the world – Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom – more than 80 percent of internet users purchase products through online markets. In contrast, there are over two dozen low and lower middle income countries where less than 10 per cent of Internet users make purchases online.
The top ten countries in the e-commerce index are from Europe and their index values are extremely close, with 4.6 points differentiating the first and tenth ranked.
Netherlands ranks first in the B2C E-Commerce Index 2019 as 100 percent of individuals aged above 15 years have account ownership at a financial institution and 80 percent of the people are involved in shopping online.
In the index, Switzerland and Singapore are in second and third place followed by Finland and the United Kingdom.
Range of index values between South Asian countries is much wider
Among the South Asian countries, India topped the index. It jumped seven places to 73, followed by Sri Lanka (86), Pakistan (114) and Bhutan (116). On the index, Afghanistan's ranking slipped from 135 to 143 - holding its place at the bottom among South Asian countries.
Moreover, the range of index values between South Asian countries is wide with a 38.8-point difference between India and Afghanistan.
Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are struggling the most in e-commerce readiness where 18 out of 20 economies with the lowest value are from the LDCs.
Niger, Chad, Burundi, Comoros and Congo have been listed as the bottom-ranked countries the index.
Local businesses contest findings
Businessmen in the country said the UNCTAD report does not reflected the online business scene in the country. They said UNCTAD had probably based their calculations only on international transactions, not on the transactions with local companies.
Shomi Kaiser, president of the E-commerce Association of Bangladesh, said, "E-commerce businesses here started only a few years ago. It may not do well in the international index, but there is no way for us to fall in the rankings."
"The e-commerce business in the country grew at least by 20 percent last year. In addition to the association's 1,000 companies, there are 50,000 other businesses operating via Facebook and Youtube. More entrepreneurs are joining the sector every year."
Md Sayeeful Islam, managing director of oitijjo.com, said that problems related to the value added tax (VAT) policy and some other issues hinder the growth of e-commerce in the country.
He said, "Some big companies like Apex, Bata, Yellow joined the online market last year. Local and foreign brands are selling their products through e-commerce platforms and the number of people using this service has increased too. But we have the manpower and capacity to expand in this sector further."