While online shopping has become a way of life for most people all over the world, for the residents of Myanmar it’s still a new concept. Bad internet connectivity and exorbitant costs had hindered the growth of E-commerce in the past. But now as these obstacles are being removed, the people of Myanmar have started catching up with the rest of the world. As internet speeds continue to improve, many companies are entering the online retailing segment hoping to cash in on this new opportunity. However, things are not simple or easy for online stores in Myanmar at the moment.
The biggest obstacle that these stores have to face stems from the basic mindset of the consumers in this country. The people of Myanmar want to see the products with their own eyes and touch them with their own hands before making a purchase. Trusting online stores does not come easy to them. This hesitancy is understandable considering they haven’t had much exposure to the online world. However, things are expected to change gradually with time as they have in other countries and this expectation is already creating a lot of competition in the field which until recently didn’t even exist.
Zaw Gyi Mart is one of the oldest online stores in Myanmar and it has been around for a period of two years. This store offers a huge amount of products to its customers, supplies them without any extra delivery charge in the Yangon area, and provides exchange of defective products that are in warranty. The fact that this online store has only had 10,000 customers till now says a lot about how sluggish this industry has been in this part of the world. It is true that e-commerce will definitely grow in Myanmar as access to internet services spreads and more people learn how to use it but the online stores of Myanmar have to face some other challenges as well.
One of the major problems is in the area of logistics as many of the goods sold by online stores are not stored in the country but are outsourced from other nations. This increases the turnaround time for product delivery and makes the transaction less convenient for the consumers. Additionally, it also increases the transportation costs and may make selling certain products uneconomical for the stores. Another major issue is that Myanmar is largely a cash society and not many people use plastic money here. Facilities such as credit cards and online secure payments are slowly emerging but it can be a while before their usage becomes common. E-commerce is no rocket science but it does require the users to have some basic knowledge and the people of Myanmar are still in the process of gaining and understanding that knowledge.
E-commerce industry in Myanmar might be a bit sluggish at the moment but it is certainly showing an upwards trend. Yangon Online Store makes about five sales per day and the Myanmar Online Store receives about 5000 to 10,000 monthly visitors. Myanmar’s promising economy has also attracted some foreign investors who are backing some of the E-commerce firms operating in the country. An example of this is Rocket Internet’s Myanmar vehicle marketplace Motors.com.mm which is getting a huge viewership and registering close to 160,000 visitors per month.
Motors.com.mm has also launched a mobile application which has been installed more than 35,000 times. This is indicative of the fact that Myanmar’s E-commerce industrymight still be in its early stages but it is certainly moving in the right direction. Myanmar is seen as the least developed market in Asia on certain counts but no one can contest that fact that it has a huge potential for growth. The government is doing its bit by providing internet and smartphone access to its residents and creating more job opportunities. As the job opportunities continue to rise, more and more people will get busy with their work and as a consequence they will start making use of E-commerce in order to save their valuable time.