The SWAP story of Bangladesh’s first reCommerce startup

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reCommerce may be a new term in Bangladesh, but it’s not at all a new concept — just that it’s undergoing a transformation in this country. A unique retail concept, reCommerce or reverse commerce refers to the buying and selling of pre-owned goods. In Bangladesh, the buying and selling of used electronic products are very common but there aren’t many reliable platforms for the same. Even there is hardly any reliable platform for the second-hand trade of other items like furniture or bikes. This is where SWAP plugged a crucial gap. Let’s look at the rise of SWAP, Bangladesh’s first official reCommerce company.

What is the reCommerce model?

We are all familiar with eCommerce platforms where used products are sold. Some of the eCommerce websites offer a C2C solution where a client can advertise their used products. A reCommerce model follows the same principle except for the business or the platform itself acts as the buyer in this regard. 

As a client, one would sell one’s product to a reCommerce platform, which would, in turn, resell the same to its customers. In the context of Bangladesh, SWAP is the first of its kind to offer a service like this.

The story of SWAP

SWAP was founded in 2020 by Parvez Hossain. An ambitious entrepreneur having vast experience in the industry, Parvez is the acting CEO of the startup.

After graduating from the University of Dhaka, Parvez started his corporate career with British American Tobacco. He subsequently served at Rahimafrooz for a brief period before starting his first entrepreneurial venture, Livewire.

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Livewire is an offline shop that sells different smartphones and their accessories. Currently, Livewire has more than 15 outlets across Bangladesh. The potential of a secondary electronic market where people sell their used smartphones and other gadgets is what sparked the idea for SWAP.

In addition to smartphones and accessories, Parvez created a platform where one can sell any type of used goods. From daily essentials to furniture to motorcycles, you name it, it’s available on SWAP. In less than two years, SWAP has been able to build a considerable market space, thanks to its innovative strategies and unique appeal to consumers.

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What sets SWAP apart?

Even though SWAP is the first reCommerce website of Bangladesh, the concept of selling used goods in the online market, especially in the F-Commerce segment is not new. Instead of a C2C approach that is prevalent in F-Commerce and other similar platforms, SWAP offers a C2B approach.

This helps a client to avoid a lot of unnecessary hassle associated with selling a product. Whether it’s the unending negotiation processes or compromising personal information for product sale, none of these is involved in SWAP making it easier for clients to sell their products. The all-in-one nature of SWAP is helpful for buyers as well as they are getting the best price of a range of used products under a single domain, rather than having to scour from group to group in F-Commerce.

The current state of SWAP

The pandemic has hit businesses across sectors. As a startup, SWAP wasn’t spared. Even though the company was founded amid the pandemic in 2020, the extensive planning and preparations that went behind SWAP meant that the business would survive the pandemic. The sales and intended impact have taken a hit, however, the platform is still performing well and with backings from its angel investors, looks to be on track to break even soon.

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Parvez attributes the success to the team behind SWAP. The core team currently has 46 members. One of the angel investors to the startup, Tanvir A Mishuk, who also happens to be the managing director of Nagad, personally oversaw the selection process of the first core team that enabled SWAP to get the right people in the right position. As a startup, the margin of error is less and the right choice helps in ensuring that every move is made for the growth of the company.

Future Prospects

With a monthly GMV of over 1 million dollars, SWAP is already outperforming its initial estimate in just 14 months. The main challenge though is to maintain the core team as there have been several changes since the initiation.

SWAP is also looking past the simple C2B model where product selection won’t be limited to selling or buying used goods. Rather there will be exchange opportunities as well. To that end, SWAP has partnered with OEMs such as Oneplus, Samsung, Realme, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi as their official exchange partners. 

Rather than reaching out to customers through traditional marketing methods, the platform has partnered with well-known tech shops like Gadget and Gear, Shumash Tech and Rio International. In addition to the smartphones and smart gadgets segment, the company is already working on furniture exchange, with a bike exchange programme in the pipeline.

Being part of the cohort of the Accelerating Asia programme, a prominent seed grooming programme for promising startups, the business under the able leadership of Parvez is moving in the right direction. Key strategic relations and partnerships have helped the startup reach its targeted customer base and operate with an end goal in mind.

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Bottom Line

The tech startup scene itself is still in its nascent state in Bangladesh and the concept of reCommerce wasn’t even heard of. Yet a three-year-long plan and strategy have set up SWAP as one of the most promising eCommerce platforms of Bangladesh. With its expected growth trajectory, the platform would soon emerge as one of the leading eCommerce sites in Bangladesh.

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