Digitalization Fulfilling Aspirations – Transforming the purchase journey for bikes on Go Digital With EZAssist

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RJ Shantu: This is the 6th episode of Go Digital With EZAssist. I’m Shantu, good morning to you all. We’ve done five episodes so far and I’m here with the 6th today, every Thursday, 11am. I think today’s episode could be of interest to the youth, because today we’re talking about what business owners went through from having a physical store to the challenges faced in going online. We have three guests with us today, Quazi Ashiq Ur Rahman, Executive Director, RANGS Industries Limited, RANCON, Industrial Solutions Limited & RANCON Electronics Limited. We have Nawshad Jahan Promee, Chief Operating Officer, Loosely Coupled Technologies. And we have with us Firoze M Zahidur Rahman, CEO & Chief Solution Architect, Loosely Coupled Technologies. I think I can greet everyone with a belated Eid Mubarak, as it is the first time we’re conversing after Eid.

Jewel: Eid Mubarak.

Ashiq: Eid Mubarak.

RJ Shantu: Let’s start with Jewel bhai, it is my favorite part to start with him. Then I’ll get to the others. In the previous episodes, we’ve talked about many different kinds of products, dresses, fashion, beauty products, and others. But bikes, bikes are a totally different matter. Without seeing it in person, getting a feel for it or going for a test ride, it’s difficult to make a decision. But people are buying bikes online, and I think that’s an indicator of how the digital progress of Bangladesh is going. And there is no other alternative to digital progress now, is that right?

Jewel: In the case of these high involvement purchases, it’s not that we’re going digital because we must or we’re compelled, but rather, it’s for our own benefit. At one time, people had to go to the showroom to get information about bikes. For high involvement purchases, where the buyer has to make the decision after a lot of considerations and research, an online channel exposes the buyer to a lot of information. They can have a general idea about the prices, whether it aligns with their budget, the different options available, and other factors before stepping foot into a showroom. The potential buyers can engage with the brands before making a final purchase decision. And with that information at hand, the buyer goes to a showroom to give test drives. And then they think about financing facilities.

The purchase journey for something like a bike is a matter of a long period of time. The customer thinks about making a purchase that they can use for 5 to 6, or 8 to 10 years. So going online is a way to empower the customers by giving them the access to these information about such a significant purchase. Never before have the customers had the choice to learn the specifications, read user reviews, look at pictures and videos and even watch roadshows to funnel down their choices as they get to now. I believe it plays a significant role in making the customers’ purchase decision easier, but unlike daily use or fashion or not as high-involvement purchases, going digital is not a matter of survival here. It is a matter of growth.

RJ Shantu: Alright. I’ll get to Ashiq bhai now, how enthusiastic are people about buying bikes online? As Jewel bhai said, since so much information is at the palm of our hands these days and customers can compare and decide, but still what is your opinion on the matter?

Ashiq: Well, let me answer by looking at how the purchase journey used to be 5 to 10 years ago, and how it’s being transformed today. What Jewel said is correct. Even for physical purchases, customers do their homework online. If you ask me in numbers, out of 100 sales we make, how many are from the showrooms and how many online, then the ratio would be 95 to 5. But, among those 95 purchases made in the showroom, most of them got connected to us online and did their research in that channel and then only finalized the deal at the showroom itself. So there is a digital journey behind the final purchase decision for the majority of our customers, and the number is only increasing day by day.

Now, the role that we play here is that we want to assist our customers in making their purchase decision, make things easier for them so that they can easily learn about the options available, the price, the reviews and user experience. And also to make it easier for the customers to know about how we can facilitate their purchase.

Currently our purely digital purchases are very few in number. A reason behind that is that for selling bikes, the government regulates that the buyer must be 18 years or older, with a minimum of a learner’s license. For that, we need to sometimes make the purchase in physical showrooms. But despite the numbers showing that digital buyers are few and far between, I believe that our digital presence has a deep impact on our physical showroom purchases.

RJ Shantu: Okay. Promee apu, since you’re involved in the sales and inquiry process, what are the kinds of inquiries that customers make for these purchases? 

Promee: Customers make queries about the price, about the quality and specifications, as well as availability. Even if the final purchase is made at a showroom, customers can get the information beforehand from online sources and by communicating with our online channels. For a consumer living outside of Dhaka especially, this access to information makes things so much easier. They can find out which outlet is closest to them too and the availability there, and after gathering all the information they can visit a dealer near them and make a purchase. 

And before visiting a dealer or showroom to see bikes, the customers have a lot of queries that they make, and then they take the step to see or test the bike. So in this way, our online channels can greatly help the customers and also facilitate the dealers.

RJ Shantu: We have a text here from Tamjid, but before that, I’d like to mention again how today’s episode is going to be of interest to the youth. Now, the text says, “For a guy, a bike is an aspiration. It’s an important purchase decision, so how logical is it to buy a bike online without having seen it for real, without touching it or test driving it first? Isn’t it difficult to make sales online? I think Jewel bhai can answer this?

Jewel: For a bike purchase, it’s not like you’d place an order online and pay with your card and a bike will be delivered in a package to your doorstep. As the message said, a bike is a matter of aspiration for a guy, it’s a lifestyle decision and it’s part of his personality.

RJ Shantu: The sheer excitement that guys have for their bikes is also something.

Jewel: Yes, of course, I can relate to this to an extent. Not because I’ve ever had a bike but I feel that way about my car, I’ve considered even sleeping in my car at times. As a guy, the passion for our car or bike, or a good sound system, these make us very excited. So, we have to transform the digital purchase journey. When buying a bike, I have to compare the brands, whether I like Suzuki more or Honda, am I sporty and what color do I want, the speeds, etc. And after all that, a buyer will decide on a model, and then he has to figure out where this specific model is available. So the access to these information makes the journey for the buyer much easier.

I think for a bike, the test drive is incredibly important. But where I do that, when I get an appointment, all of those decisions need to be made. In developed countries, like in Malaysia, the dealers bring the car to your house and you can go for a test drive. Quite similar to Uber or Pathao, you can call for a test drive of a particular vehicle. But at the end of the day, it’s entirely true that people don’t want to buy bikes without a test drive or at least seeing it first, even I wouldn’t want to do that. 

RJ Shantu: I think Ashiq bhai wants to add something? 

Ashiq: I think people will always want to get a feel of the bike before making a purchase. That will always be there, but what we are doing is transforming the purchase journey of consumers. I want to add to Jewel here, right now we have 110 showrooms operating in. Bangladesh. Some are Suzuki’s own showrooms, and most are owned by our partners/dealers. They represent Suzuki or RANCON MotorBikes in different geographical locations. And all over Bangladesh, we’re making sales. And digitally, we have Facebook pages, a central Suzuki Facebook page as well as individual pages for each showroom. And we centrally connect all these pages, and there are some general queries like “Is this model available?”, or “What is the price of this?” Or “Is there any offer available?” These are common across all pages. So we try to engage customers by answering these questions with videos or catalogues, we even get questions like, “Which bike do you think is suitable for me?” And in that case, we actually speak with them and try to learn about their requirements, whether a bike is for recreation, for daily commute, or whether the customer will have a companion or a girlfriend with him when riding the bike. So we help them find the right bike. People don’t have the time to go browse at a physical showroom these days. They have work all day and the moment they have some free time after work, the showroom might be closed. So, when they’re home or at any time they have, we want to make that journey smooth for them. They can explore their options digitally, we want to provide support similar to how we would in the showroom, by figuring out his needs and communicating the features to make a sale. We connect digitally, but the loop ends at the showroom itself when the customer shows up to make the final purchase. And after the customer has an idea about what bike he wants, he asks where he can get it from, if he’s from outside Dhaka then we tell him where his nearest showroom is and we also ask if he’d like to set an appointment beforehand. Our main target is to make sure that our customers are having the best buying experience. Customer service is one of our core values. Whatever business we do, we try to be the trendsetter. And this is one of the values we’ve tried to incorporate into our work culture to differentiate with other players in the market. When we set our business targets, we aim to be the best in customer experience. Our target is to remain superior in terms of customer experience, whether it be the showroom experience or the after sales experience. And recently, we’re trying to provide the best digital customer experience too in the industry.

RJ Shantu: Alright. We have another text here from Mahmudur Rahman, I was going to ask this question to you all myself, but since he is asking, “When someone buys a bike from a showroom or a dealer, the dealers’ livelihoods are actually dependent upon the sales. But when converting online, is there any impact upon the dealers?”

Ashiq: See, when we’re creating this online channel, it’s not a separate medium of sale. It’s facilitating the dealers by centrally handling communications through the online channel. We redirect customers to the dealer nearest them, and it’s not hampering the dealers’ livelihoods in any way at all, but rather benefiting them. We are educating our customers as well as our dealers in the use of this online media. 

Jewel: I’d like to add to that. This is a very good question, and this is one area where we, as Loosely Coupled, feel proud to be associated with RANCON. We think that compared to many other organizations, RANCON takes the responsibility of transforming their partners and the showroom owners’ digitization. They are actually centralizing this entire cost. A small showroom such as the ones in Teknaf, Patuakhali, or any other small city, cannot actually afford 24/7 customer service technology. They often just don’t have the resources or the financial capability. And that is where I think Suzuki Bangladesh is very different, they have taken the step to transform all 110 showroom points seamlessly online, allowing customers all over Bangladesh to get the same experience, which is centrally managed by RANCON motors themselves. So they aren’t creating a separate online channel, rather converting the 110 points digitally. And that is where all of these individual dealerships and showrooms are becoming digital and once they become digital, there will be a lot more to come for them in terms of stock, sales, and others because RANCON as a group is big with many product lines. So, the concern that the person had, that is a completely right concern but in the sense that, if he doesn’t convert to digital while everyone else does, then he will be left out and his livelihood will be threatened. But here, RANCON is the one doing the heavy lifting, adapting a model where they are facilitating all the dealers with them and prioritizing them too. And that is where we feel proud to be working with RANCON because for Bangladesh, we believe this is the right approach to go forward.

Promee: Let me add a bit to that, normally consumers think that digital means direct to the customer. The Suzuki concept here is bringing everyone in the value chain to digital.

RJ Shantu: A reminder for our audience, anyone tuning in on radio, please join us on our Facebook LIVE and comment any queries in the comment section of the video. I’d like to address Ashiq bhaiya now, we have a viewer with us asking about the delivery system. How easy is the delivery system, after a buyer has paid such a huge amount of money online?

Ashiq: Again, we’re not trying to reach directly to customers. Our final fulfilment of the sale happens at the showrooms. I think the viewer hasn’t listened to the discussion we had earlier, we’re not trying to establish an e-commerce channel of sales where someone makes the payment online and then receives a delivery, it’s not that. The discussion between a seller and customer up until the final sale, the experience that a customer wants, that is what we’re trying to provide online. And the tool that we’re discussing today, that’s mostly to facilitate the customers, make their journey smoother. Nowadays the major part of a customer journey occurs digitally from seeing comparisons, reviews, ratings, features, etc. online. And then finally the customer  takes the delivery from the showroom, mostly because you need the bike registered in your name, and the government has a strict rule set in place in this case that we abide by.

RJ Shantu: We’ll take a short break now. Be right back, and please stay with us.

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RJ Shantu:  Welcome back everyone. You’re listening to Go Digital With EZAssist, episode 6. For our audience, I’d like to remind you that our merchant of the week is Binge and you can avail a huge discount on the Binge device or the monthly subscription by sending a simple “Hi” to the Binge chatbot or the EZAssist chatbot. Visit or

Ashiq bhai, what are the roles that large brands can play in digital transformation and sales?

Ashiq: Good question. For big brands, I don’t have recommendations here but what we are trying to do is facilitate the customer experience. Aside from Suzuki, RANCON has other electronics businesses as well. A lot of showrooms look like warehouses and customers don’t have space to experience a bike or get a feel of it before buying in that case. We decided we won’t do that. A texter said a while ago that bikes are quite aspirational for guys, there is passion involved in buying a bike. When passion is related, then a purchaser might bring friends or family with them when buying, they want to experience how it feels, sit on it, check it out, even let the family members or friends try it out, some even take photos. Most showrooms cannot facilitate that. We started by giving this experience to the customers, “How do I look when I’m sitting on my bike?” 

A showroom doesn’t have to have all the products right there forming clutter. Rather, showcase products with enough space so a customer can truly check it out from all angles, even sit and test it, see how they like it. This is a transformation. As a trendsetter, we have started practicing this, and whatever business we do, we will try to stick to this principle. The main thing in retail is to provide an experience to the customer. 

We’re trying to do this same thing with customers on the online platform too. We give soft skills training to employees in our showroom all through the year, and even now we are doing the same when it comes to online communication. We want customers all over Bangladesh to experience the same practices from us. 

For example, if you go to a Starbucks, wherever it may be, in China or in Europe or in America, you’ll find the same experience. We are trying to do that for our showrooms, and it isn’t easy for a small showroom in some rural region of Bangladesh to give the same experience to the customer. So we train them. And when it’s online, it just isn’t possible for a small dealership in remote locations to give the same level of customer service and communication online. So we’re doing that centrally for them to standardize the customer experience.

RJ Shantu: Amazing. Jewel bhai, do you want to say anything?

Jewel: I think Ashiq has covered everything wonderfully so I don’t have anything to add.

RJ Shantu: Alright. We have a question here from a viewer. I’m not sure if I should ask this, but a viewer asked, many e-commerce platforms nowadays are offering some discounts and offers on bikes. Is there anything similar for Suzuki or RANCON going on? 

Ashiq: I say that this is always a business call. Based on our business requirements we sometimes decide to go on different platforms. Discounts and everything are promotional. A business can decide to make the call and run some promotional offers. You may even see a business offer 100% cashback. In Suzuki’s case, we run some promotional activities during festivals, because consumer promotion is a popular tool for selling our products. But let me reiterate, we’re not trying to reach consumers digitally to make sales. But we’re trying to bring our entire value chain digital to support our consumer journey. But of course, if someone sees a product worth 100 taka being on sale for 50, who wouldn’t go for that? I myself would. Even when we run promotions like these, many of our colleagues also go for them. If the product quality is good and it’s on sale for cheaper, then people will always try to grab that. And this opportunity will come by, to make a product popular or for the expansion of a product. This was done before digital came, and it’s done now. Lotteries, winning a huge flat, all these things happened before and they continue to happen now.

RJ Shantu: Jewel bhai?

Jewel: I just want to add, “Jodi laiga jay” was a huge campaign we saw growing up. As Ashiq said, this is a common matter. But I want to talk a bit about why e-commerce platforms run these kinds of promotions. From EZAssist, we sometimes subsidize or incentivize merchants to run different promotions. When a merchant registers with EZAssist, we facilitate discounts upto 50% in some cases on their products. But you have to understand why we do so. In Bangladesh, we are only starting out on digitalization. Just as merchants aren’t entirely familiar with how to run an online business, customers are also not used to making purchases online. Due to the pandemic, customers need to change their buying behaviour, they need to stay at home more and do their shopping online. To facilitate this transformation, this is a kind of bribe to everyone.Stay home, we’ll give you the product at a discount, but in exchange you learn the process of going online on a portal, checking the products, adding to cart, making a bkash account or a bank account for payment, etc. So, we’re trying to get the customers to shift from a physical and cash economy to a digital economy. Whatever discounts customers are getting on these platforms are just discounts to change themselves. The customers actually aren’t getting these discounts for free, they have to make a bank account or download a bkash app and make an account, they actually have to take these actions to be able to avail a discount. So I think all these brands are taking this step to transform customers to digital.

Before, when showrooms or stores would have sales or offers to increase sales, customers would just go and buy products for themselves. But for digital discounts, there is a step you follow to avail it and then you get the discount. For no other medium does the customer have to work for the discount and learn a process. 

RJ Shantu: Promee apu, do you receive any queries regarding these?

Promee: A lot of funny things have happened when customers made queries about discounts. Customers often say that digital purchases are too complex for them, they can’t. But when we give a discount, 10% or 20% or even 50%, we see the same customers coming back and going through the process and even making online payment. The customers are obviously capable of doing this, but they just don’t want to sometimes but the discount becomes an incentive to acclimatize the customer to making digital purchases. 

Ashiq: Let me just add something here. We had a favorite movie called Dil Chahta Hain. There was a dialogue, “Cake khaane ke liye hum kahi bhi ja sagte hain.” -”We can go anywhere to have cake.” This seems to be true for customers, they are willing to go anywhere for that discount cake. 

RJ Shantu: We’re almost at the end of our episode, so Ashiq bhai, will you please tell us any anecdotes or interesting stories from working with EZAssist that you think the viewers might enjoy? 

Ashiq: A lot of interesting things have happened over time. The concept itself is quite new and interesting, especially in this industry I have to say that we’re the pioneers in moving to this line. A whole new concept, we faced some challenges too, especially in convincing the customers that this could be something. Even today, most of the questions we got, the viewers asked if this is an ecommerce solution for buying bikes. But it’s not that at all, It’s not even a query management solution. Rather, it’s about digitalizing the purchase journey of the customers. We have had to get our partners on board with us too, even though they haven’t had to make any investments. We’ve had to connect them and make them understand things, and it was challenging but once people saw the results and understood that the standardized process for management engaged the customers, they started to accept this change. But I must say, we’ve come a long way and there’s still a long way to go. I have some visions to increase the scope of things, and I’m sure Jewel has some ideas too. So the interesting thing here is in the journey from just being an idea to how it’s getting implemented, and there is much more to come as we implement new things.

RJ Shantu: Jewel Bhai?

Jewel: As Ashiq said, it’s often as if you’ve opened a Chinese restaurant and someone comes and asks for burgers. And you have to give him the burger and then convince him that actually the Chinese cuisine is also good. So that was the overall experience as a whole. But overall this has been a novel journey, the expressions and way of life and behaviour of the people in our country is very different from how it is anywhere else in the world. And when AI and machine learning is implemented here, then we really have to meet their expectations. They might ask a question with the wrong spelling and expect that the AI would answer it right. And that actually isn’t a wrong expectation to have, we cannot teach everyone everything. So we have to be the ones to adapt and build a system where even if the customer asks the wrong question or spells things incorrectly, they get the correct response from the AI. I think it’s a very interesting journey for us. One thing is for sure, we cannot train up the 8 million businesses in Bangladesh within the next 5 or 7 years, so technology has to match up and make it so that people don’t have to be trained and everyone gets the experience that they deserve. It’s not productive to say “They can’t do it.” They don’t even want to do it. So this is where technology comes into the picture to scale up and do things in a way that people don’t have to learn. So I think that’s how I see it.

RJ Shantu: Alright. Promee apu? 

Promee: We’ve been talking about technology. I think what Suzuki has been doing is a brilliant trendsetter, bringing all their partners and dealers on board in the digitalization journey and taking everyone in the value chain online. And I think we are getting to work on a lot to improve customer experience with AI and technology to take things further.

RJ Shantu: Alright. We received many questions from our viewers today wanting to learn about digitalization, and I’m learning alongside them. I think it’s a good step forward and we will all learn more and more through these episodes. Thank you everyone for tuning in today and joining us on Facebook Live. Thank you Ashiq bhai, thank you Jewel bhai, thank you Promee apu. I hope to see you all again on the next episode of Go Digital With EZAssist, tune in with us every Thursday, 11AM. Goodbye!

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