Managing Director of International Homeware Ltd. (IHW), Moinur Rahman talks about beginning its e-commerce journey this Ramadan to make household shopping easier for working couples and young people

Are Ramadan and Eid a big sale season for IHW? Do you have any special plans in place this year?
Yes, we have some special plans and product for Ramadan this year. We are in partnership with some banks (Brac Bank, City Bank, and Standard Chartered Bank) and are giving a 10% discount with the usage of their debit cards. We also have some special products for this Eid, like premium cutlery & dessert sets, teapots, etc. Bigger than Eid is our winter sales which are during the wedding season.

You are soon to enter the e-commerce market. What were the reasons that made you think this was a viable option to increase sales?
We are entering the e-commerce market because online is the future. This move has been made for those people who live at a distance from our retail stores in Dhaka City. It is also for those consumers who are working every day and do not have the time to buy home appliances or gifts. We want to focus on client convenience. We are aiming to reach customers who are already comfortable using the web to shop, give them better product knowledge and save time. Since we have existing physical stores, the e-commerce platform is the next big step in the growth of our business.

People are still a little unsure of buying products online in Bangladesh, especially if it’s a big purchase. How will you overcome this issue?
We are offering cash on delivery service to customers on purchase from our E-Commerce platform. This allows us to enhance customer relation and satisfaction. This also provides the customer the assurance to make big purchases via our platform. We have different types of products for our diverse clients. Fortunately, IHW is a business that has been able to establish a reputed name for over 30 years now. I am hopeful that our customers will give us the same trust online. Special offers always attract new buyers online so we are hoping that this will also play a big role. Our online platform is being launched with rigorous research on client purchase behavior. We are hoping the data we have collected will assist us to determine the price range most suitable for our customers without scaring them off.

How will you ensure that ceramic and glass goods are delivered to customers intact? We are merging with the best delivery service company which will take the liabilities & ensure that ceramic and glass goods are delivered to customers without damages. We also have an internal specialized unit with full expertise in packaging and delivering fragile goods. And there is always that extra bubble wrapping to the rescue!

 What will you exchange/return policy be?
We have 48 hours easy return/exchange policy which includes our standard one-year free service for appliances.

Who is your biggest customer base? Is the online shopping experience applicable to them?
Our products are catering to all sectors of the market-wholesale, retail, corporate-in three categories- Home & living, Kitchen & Dining, and Household Electric Appliances.

If we focus online we would like to target all the markets and definitely users who aren’t able to physically visit our stores. Also for those people who have the passion of home decor but isn’t aware that these products are now available in Bangladesh. A certain population of the market can be narrowed down to new homeowners, domestic holders, corporates and pretty much anyone who is willing to invest in home appliances, gifts, etc. We would like to make it convenient for all our customers to be able to purchase our products from the comfort of their homes with just a click away.

What can we look forward to from IHW in the future, in terms of products and designs?
As the market in Bangladesh is being saturated with Chinese products, IHW focuses on providing international brands with unique & quality products. We want to be the number one choice for the people when it comes to homeware and gift products offering traditional, modern & trendy items. IHW has recently been involved with a few collaboration with Sushi Samurai and the American Alumni Association. As a part of its corporate social responsibility IHW has partnered with Its Humanity Foundation (IHF), a nonprofit organization focusing towards creating a sustainable solution in alleviating poverty. Together the two organizations are extending opportunities to the underprivileged by providing core education and essential life skills.  More recently our company has launched a collaboration with Protibha in our Gulshan retail stores featuring hand painted kitchen appliances and glassware ranges with the remaining products in the collection available later this year. The collaboration aims to promote the rich culture and heritage of Bangladeshi Rickshaw Art, a dying art-form in the nation proclaimed as an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ by UNESCO. The collaboration is aimed to keep the art alive by incorporating it in daily homeware mediums.