If you’ve had any experience with parenthood, you’re well-acquainted with the world of diapers. Diapers are often a lifeline for parents. But not all diapers are created equal. It’s not enough to have layers, you have to have the best quality. Punctuality is important. It’s possible to run out of layers, but you don’t want to walk that line. Once a mostly urban phenomenon, diapers are now almost everywhere. Parents in semi-urban areas and villages have caught up with their urban peers in adopting the use of diapers, thereby expanding the overall market size.
There are about 3,100,000 babies born in Bangladesh per year, or about 8,600 every day (according to 2015 UNICEF data). The market is turning a lot – kids typically wear diapers for the first three years on average – but in this window business is pretty sticky. Moms need diapers and they would keep them coming.
This has given rise to a rapidly growing diaper market in Bangladesh. First came imported diapers and imported brands dominated the market for a few years. Then local businesses started noticing the demand and local brands started manufacturing locally. Today, while exported diaper brands continue to enjoy a significant market presence, they are no longer dominant. Local brands have excellent penetration.
When e-commerce slowly started to gain momentum in Bangladesh in 2015, Chaldal, which started in 2013, entered the diaper market and started selling diapers on its platform. Today, almost every major e-commerce marketplace sells diapers. Chaldal, however, managed to forge a dominant position on the vertical.
Absorb a request for shuffling
Chaldal didn’t start selling diapers right away. It took the company almost two years to enter the diaper market in 2015. By then, Chaldal had already started gaining popularity as an online grocery store.
Looking back, sitting in 2022, 2015 seems to be the stone age of online shopping in Dhaka. People were discovering the new world of online shopping. Although Chaldal had already made a name for itself as an online grocery player by this time, there was still work to be done in the vertical.
A fascinating aspect of Chaldal is that the company has always been deliberate when it comes to expansion. In fact, some of the major product verticals that Chaldal has expanded into over the past few years have all been driven by customer demand.
It is the same with the diaper. The company started selling diapers around 2015 when there was an apparent demand among its customers for diapers and related baby products.
“The first time we started thinking about selling diapers was around 2015 when a customer called our helpline number and asked for baby diapers,” says a Chaldal representative.
That was it. After a few more questions, Chaldal launched a new category called “Baby Care” focusing on necessary baby products, including diapers. From day one, the company has focused on offering a wide variety selling all kinds of diapers in one place.
The fast track to a mother’s heart
Over the years, Chaldal has actually made significant efforts to grow its diaper business.
The motivation apparently comes not only from the fact that diapers represent an annual market of BDT 450 crore in Bangladesh, but also from the fact that a strong position in the diaper market can help the company position itself globally in the mind of a customer.
The company viewed the category as a fast track to mothers’ hearts. Diapers are hassle-free purchases. If you can guarantee quality and on-time delivery, parents will be more than happy to buy from you.
Since Chaldal launched its nappies business almost two years after its inception, the risk of diluting its focus was limited. At that time, the company already had a stable grocery store. A product extension in a market likely to amplify its core business made perfect sense.
The move paid off. The company now has a growing baby products business, with diapers leading the vertical.
First organic, the category has since evolved. Today, Chaldal has a meticulous process of managing the baby care product category. The company says it pays close attention to the sourcing of baby care products to ensure quality.
Chaldal works directly with leading importers for imported diapers and local manufacturers for local diapers. The company goes to great lengths to ensure that all products are genuine and quality is exacting.
Baby products are a sensitive category. Parents can make sacrifices when it comes to the quality of their own products. But if their child has a rash, it affects their life and sleep. When it comes to diapers, parents are not willing to give the same latitude for a product. Therefore, the main challenge of selling diapers online is to gain the trust and faith of parents.
Although Chaldal does not manufacture any of the products it sells, the company takes quality seriously and only works with reputable suppliers. Seriousness has resulted in consistent customer value.
Diapers, delivered quickly, of high quality and at competitive prices, were the initial hook. The business has since seen steady growth as Chaldal can easily be considered one of the most dominant vertical players in Dhaka.
Chaldal says it currently delivers around 1500 nappies a day and claims it offers the best prices available for nappies on the market and guarantees genuine products of the highest quality.
The company says it works closely with suppliers, trying to understand their business model and trying to get the best deals for customers.
It has a customer-friendly return policy – customers can return products within seven days if there is a problem, no questions asked. The customer-first approach has also helped Chaldal receive excellent reviews from customers.
The diaper market
The annual diaper market in Bangladesh is estimated at 400-450 crore. Over the past few years, market dynamics have changed significantly. In 2017/2018, imported diapers held 70% of the market share. However, the dynamic has changed over the past few years and today local diaper brands continue to gain market share.
Like all other verticals in Bangladesh, diapers are also slowly transitioning to e-commerce. Industry insiders suggest that the online market currently accounts for 15-20% of the total market. While the online market remains fragmented today with many small players, it can be safely predicted that the online diaper market share will grow many times over in the coming years.
The growth has caught the attention of several players, including general purpose e-commerce players as well as smaller niche players in the vertical.
Chaldal, however, enjoys a first mover advantage in the category. The company also runs the dedicated platform diaper.com.bd and seems to focus more on vertical with a streamlined operation to support it.
Chaldal already has notoriety and notoriety in the category and has earned the trust of parents. As it pushes for expansion, Chaldal is now looking to improve its supply chain and efficiency in the category so it can deliver greater benefits to customers while ensuring a healthy margin.