The 10,000-person company that delivers everything from needle to sofa

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The country’s first private courier company, which delivers more than 1,000 kg of mangoes every day this season, has also become the country’s largest courier service company. And it all goes back four decades to a simple idea shared by two friends

June 18, 2022, 09:30

Last modification: June 18, 2022, 09:42

The company has 700 covered vans and every day 110 vans travel to Dhaka with products from all over Bangladesh. Photo: Noor-A-Alam

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The company has 700 covered vans and every day 110 vans travel to Dhaka with products from all over Bangladesh. Photo: Noor-A-Alam

In 1983, two Iamamul friends Kabir Shanto and Hafizur Rahman Pulok returned to Bangladesh from Germany with a plan up their sleeves: to start a courier service business.

But why a package delivery company of all things? “In Germany, Shanto and I saw how Deutsche Bundespost, Germany’s state-owned postal and telecommunications service company, was run by private organizations and we realized that with a growing population, Bangladesh will need this service. “said Hafizur Rahman Pulok, Sundarban. Vice President of Courier Service.

Until 1983, there was an air express service in Bangladesh, which meant that document and non-document packages were transported by air. This was problematic because air express service was dependent on the availability of an airport or at least runaway for air parcel carriers. Bangladesh Post Office also operated a parcel delivery service, but like many other government services, it was not very reliable.

To solve this problem, Shanto and Pulok wanted to offer the service of a “courier”.

Then one day in 1983, the air express service stopped. And on the first day of November, Sundarban Courier Service (SCS) started its journey as a package and document delivery company, along with three other delivery service companies: Continental air express, Dolphin air express and Dreamland air express.

Currently, 150-200 e-commerce businesses use SCS for deliveries outside of Dhaka. Photo: Noor-A-Alam

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Currently, 150-200 e-commerce businesses use SCS for deliveries outside of Dhaka.  Photo: Noor-A-Alam

Currently, 150-200 e-commerce businesses use SCS for deliveries outside of Dhaka. Photo: Noor-A-Alam

But there is a catch. Of the four companies just mentioned, only SCS operated as a road courier service agency, making it the first private courier company in the country. “We wanted to get to people’s doorsteps, which wasn’t possible for air express,” Pulok said.

And that’s what they did. Because today, after almost four decades in business, Sundarban Courier Service has become the largest courier service company in Bangladesh. Starting from a small room in Shegunbagicha in 1983, this company today has 10,000 employees with more than 700 branches and agent offices across the country in 64 districts.

But why did they choose the name Sundarban and a tiger as their logo? “Shanto and I both hail from the Sundarbans belt of the country; he is from Kushtia and I am from Khulna. And what could better symbolize the Sundarbans than our own Bengal tiger?” answered Pulok.

SCS also has international branches in Singapore and Malaysia. However, since the death of company president Iamamul Kabir Shanto in 2020, the international branches remain inactive.

Photo: Noor-A-Alam

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Photo: Noor-A-Alam

Photo: Noor-A-Alam

Impressive scale of e-commerce operations, services and support

The company has 700 vans covered and every day 110 vans go to Dhaka with products from all over Bangladesh and 110 vans leave Dhaka every night. Managing Director Toufiq Islam said, “Every day we receive bills of Tk 30 lakh at our head office just for the 110 vans arriving and departing from Dhaka.”

The company also has a dedicated wing for supporting e-commerce businesses, which includes product delivery and cash collection. This wing was created in 2012.

Currently, 150-200 e-commerce businesses use SCS for deliveries outside of Dhaka and more than 10,000 products are delivered through the company. Additionally, 100 regular riders are appointed nationwide to deliver these products.

Naznin Afroza is the owner of Vermillion BD, an e-commerce company based in Dhaka. It mainly operates through Facebook and Instagram and sells women’s accessories including handbags, jewelry, etc.

Afroza uses the SCS branch near her home to deliver her products outside of Dhaka. “It’s convenient because most regions have an SCS branch and I usually don’t get any complaints from my customers,” Afroza told The Business Standard.

The company also has a service called “liqupack”, which is essential for delivering liquid products like honey, ghee, mustard oil, palm jaggery, etc.

Photo: Noor-A-Alam

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Photo: Noor-A-Alam

Photo: Noor-A-Alam

A special SCS team maintains the fruit delivery section during the mango season. Currently, SCS is delivering more than 1,000 kg of mangoes every day this season, according to Toufiq.

He also mentioned that fruit season is the time of year when SCS receives the most complaints from customers, as fruit tends to spoil and rot.

And sometimes, once in a thousand, your mango cart can be misplaced. “In this case, we first listen to the customer’s complaint and then compensate with another case of mangoes or the quantity,” Toufiq said, because customer satisfaction is SCS’s priority.

Customers can call the SCS call center to complain. Al-Amin, SCS’s call center manager, said, “We are a team of 38 people taking calls from our customers 24/7. In three shifts, we take calls from our customers and listen to their frustrations and sorrows.

Al Amin said his team responds to at least 15,000 calls daily from across the country about problems they are having with their packages or to inquire about the service.

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