Financial inclusion continues to be an important topic in Myanmar ecommerce as it enables people to access financial services in several ways.
Although Myanmar has “leapfrogged” in terms of available products and services, there are still many challenges to overcome. During the recent mobile money conference in Yangon, Bo Bo Lwin, Director of Future Hub IT Consultancy (company behind the first online ticketing website in Myanmar), mentioned some major problems (ex. power/electricity stability) in Myanmar that keep companies from having smooth operations. Technology awareness could also be a challenge as many families may not embrace these services. As the market is developing, we have seen some big companies presenting their cutting-edge technologies. Toshio Yoshihara, General Manager, International Business Development Department FeliCa Business Division of Sony Corporation, talked about how Sony’s FeliCa Technology can makes people’s lives easier and smarter using their contactless technology.
In recent years, startups have been using Facebook for trading and also taking advantage of the free advertisement platforms to boost trade, retailers said. “Previously, we traded through our own Facebok page. But now, as we have free advertisement websites, there has been a lot of improvement in trading,” said Ma Thazin, who is an online retailer.
More people are getting engaged in e-commerce as online retailing allows not only to sell new products but also used ones. Among the product mobile phones, IT gadgets and kitchenware are most popular in Myanmar, retailers say. “I think [online retail business] will become more popular in the future. It may be widely used internationally but as we don’t have good internet coverage in Myanmar, it will take some time to develop,” said another online retailer. According to Asia-Pacific Internet Group, the online retail market in Southeast Asia has experienced double digit growth in the last few years.
Top 10 e-commerce websites in Myanmar
As the internet growingly becomes the common platform for businesses spread across the world to come closer to each other and initiate meaningful business conversations, Myanmar businesses get a chance to join the league. With the launch of the first ever Myanmar B2B ecommerce platform, Baganmart.com, a broad new avenue of possibilities has opened up for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in Myanmar, aside from the market leaders in different sectors.
Baganmart.com, the Myanmar ecommerce portal, aims to connect Myanmar suppliers and wholesalers with their buyers. A very energetic group of Burmese entrepreneurs who have had plenty of experience doing business overseas have taken cue from the world’s leading B2B marketplaces and set up this ecommerce marketplace, which happens to be the first of its kind in Myanmar. The entrepreneurs behind the recently launched marketplace, Baganmart.com, expressed that they want to focus on capacity and adaptability of small and mid-size business owners who have traditionally operated their businesses the old school way.
“The immediate objective is to boost sales and revenue of our member organizations, most of which are Burmese SMEs. Myanmar industrial dynamics are fast changing and it’s high time we should help our SMEs to gain more control over advertising, promotion and marketing.””It is a fact that many Myanmar building material suppliers still do not have any online presence. It is also true that they are now trying to get online to promote their businesses. We are just trying to play our bit in capacity building of these SMEs”, told a senior marketing manager on behalf of the Myanmar online shopping portal that helps Myanmar construction industry suppliers to acquire new clients.
OneKyat is a fastest growing C2C mobile marketplace that helps people in Myanmar to sell or buy new or pre-loved items. With their OneKyat Android App, selling is very simple and it takes less than 60 seconds to post and start selling your product in onekyat. OneKyat Android App in-app chat function allows users to communicate between seller and user directly. So buying or selling is more fun and save a lot of time.
Moreover users will get their own profile page once registered in onekyat; It helps online shop owners to share their products without spending extra time or effort to create their own.
Zawgyi Mart is a significantly large online shopping store in Myanmar, and has everything you need to buy during your stay in Myanmar. Unlike many of the online superstores that are in the rudimentary phase of development, Zawgyi Mart is quite developed and fairly equipped to cater to the shopping needs of the locals and tourists alike. The collection consists of home appliances, electronics, cosmetics, handbags, fragrances, bed sheets and other house ware and much more. It also has a good collection of branded things from Gucci, Michael Kors, Burberry, Furla and Tory Burch. The country gradually inclining towards online shopping options and Zawgyi Mart is a good addition to it.
More interesting, more ambitious and potentially much more lucrative is Shop.com.mm, a general merchandise retail site along the lines of Amazon or Rocket’s clones elsewhere in Southeast Asia, Lazada and Zalora. Then there’s Rocket’s two-year-old Daraz in Pakistan and Daraz Bangladesh, whose marketing push commenced around the same time as Shop.com’s. Even if Shop.com didn’t, as Rocket executive Kiren Tanna says, launch only a month ago, user traffic has steadily climbed since the beginning of October 2014, when the real marketing push set in. By the end of December 2014, the monthly tally was more than 46,000 page-views, with about 500 individual visits daily. That may leave every other Myanmar online retailer in the dust.
Online shopping cheap products from China, including electronics, clothing, bags, shoes, fashion, accessories.
Ads.com.mm is an online classifieds website where people can buy and sell almost anything in their cities, from electronics, cars, real estate to jobs and services. Part of Asia Pacific Internet Group (APACIG), the leading internet group in Asia powered by Rocket Internet and Ooredoo.
More than 100,000 people stop by Myanmar’s largest free classifieds site, Ads.com.mm, every month. Among the thousands of listings that have appeared on the portal, potential buyers might find anything from mobile phones to mobile toilets.
The Rocket Internet startup, which works similarly to Craigslist, hopes to become one of Myanmar’s most-frequented websites. With up to 150,000 visits monthly, Ads.com.mm is well on its way, especially considering Myanmar’s internet penetration, said the company’s country manager Nico Poma. Last year, 1.2 percent of Myanmar was accessing the internet, according to UN data and the International Telecommunications Union.
A community zone boasting jokes, poems and event announcements draws users to Ads.com.mm, as do the categorised pages of products and services featuring musical instruments, electronics, and “anything else”. The platform drives roughly 40,000 leads for sellers monthly and racks up 1 million page views a month. Currently, the site hosts more than 7000 listings.
The mobile section proves a hot destination for customers. In this category especially, the site helps Myanmar consumers shop confidently. “[The business model] creates price transparency,” Mr Poma said. “The monopolies that we hear with certain shops selling phones, for example, for very highprices – it’s not that easy for them anymore, because people can also trade secondhand phones.”
Ads.com.mm wants to raise its profile past the borders of Yangon. The company emphasizes an everyone, everywhere ethos; as a web connection is all that’s necessary to buy and sell, users can conduct business from Sittwe to Taunggyi, Mr Poma said.
The startup also fills the role of quality-control gatekeeper and arbiter of good taste. Arms, drugs and scams aren’t allowed at Ads.com.mm; neither are postings that breach ethics or laws. Perhaps the most memorable violation of this policy involves one entrepreneurial user that listed his kidney and liver. “The male was saying he was 30 and very healthy,” Poma said. “That was the craziest thing I saw.”
Update: Just came across this shopping site, YangonBay. Despite the name, there is a strong emphasis on Korean clothing and cosmetics. No surprise: the influence of Korean soap operas and pop singers is hard to miss in Myanmar as well as greater Southeast Asia. Yangon Online has a much greater range of products.
YangonBay’s payment method is more advanced than Yangon Online’s, however. Customers can pay by bank transfer and MyanPay, which sounds like a local variation of PayPal. Customers also can pay cash on delivery within the Yangon metro area. COD is still a pretty common system for online purchases in Thailand and Vietnam. The site also sports logos from PayPal, MasterCard and Visa.
Oway is the leading travel company in Myanmar offering a wide range of on- and offline distribution solutions for the industry as we well as comprehensive services for business travelers and consumers. Oway operates oway.com.mm, Myanmar’s first one-stop online travel portal, offering the largest inventory of hotels, flights, cars, buses and tours, with multiple secure payment options for local and international travelers.
Myanmar’s leading travel booking and ride-hailing service provider Oway Group said it is currently in discussions with potential investors to close an eight-digit funding round in October. As part of the round, IFC has made an equity investment worth US$2 million in the startup in early 2017, marking the World Bank arm’s first investment in a Myanmar’s technology startup. This round follows a one-year gap with Oway’s previous funding round raised at US$10 million from investors including Northstar Group, Emerging Markets Investment Advisers Pte Ltd (EMIA) and International Finance Corporation (IFC).
Founded by Nay Aung, a Stanford and London School of Economics alum who has earlier worked with Google and Blue Lithium, Oway Group is a startup operating an online travel portal oway.com.mm and ride-hailing app Oway Ride. The startup is currently planning more technology investments to differentiate itself in the market. It is already tapping into the payment space and exploring other tech-based offerings.
According to Oway, the next step for the firm is to expand Oway Pay, a mobile wallet service and penetrate into smaller townships across Myanmar. It plans to start its expansion from Mandalay and schedule to offer other modes of transportation such as motorcycles by September. “We aim to make our services available in tier-1 and tier-2 cities throughout Myanmar,” said an Oway spokesperson.
BarLoLo Myanmar (www.barlolo.com), owned by 3KO Ventures Co., Ltd, is an online marketplace that allows individuals and business owners in Myanmar to buy and sell items in a free and easy manner. Barlolo Myanmar is run by experienced local managers who understand local needs. The team consists of former senior members of management for e-City, a leading mobile retail chain in Myanmar.
Daily Mart, which went live in January, has eyes for future growth, according to co-founder and executive director Ko Htut Thant Syn.
“I think it may be a little bit early, but it is the right time because the internet penetration is getting better,” he said. “More people are exposed to the technology, and they believe it will help them.” On average, the platform receives less than a handful of orders per day – between three and five – and around 48 site visits. Ko Htut Thant Syn wants to bring orders up to double digits in the next six months, and said a minimum of 20 orders a day would make for a “very comfortable” position.
“I think we are still a bit early to enter the market, but we are already here, so we just move on,” co-founder and operations director Ma Zin Mar Lwin said. “We will try to get more people to know this kind of service and how convenient it can become in their daily lives.” The firm claims the mantle of Myanmar’s first online grocery shop. The business model exists elsewhere, but has proven tricky to execute.
In Myanmar, it’s early days not only for the infant startup, but also for the e-commerce industry around it. With recent telco rollouts across the country and development in internet infrastructure, more and more people are moving online; but major hurdles in the form of online payment systems and logistics remain to be tackled before businesses work like Amazon Prime.
Ko Htut Thant Syn said Daily Mart came about when he and Ma Zin Mar Lwin melded their ideas of starting a delivery service and selling goods to consumers. A subsidiary of Global Green Development Group, whose other ventures reside firmly offline in property and construction, Daily Mart received monetary backing from the firm’s CEO but no external support.
Meanwhile, the streets of Yangon, crowded with taxis, set the stage for Daily Mart’s launch – as did the success of similar online stores in other markets.
“Our main intention is to help people save time,” Ko Htut Thant Syn said. “You don’t have to get stuck in traffic, you don’t have to wait for the queue and you don’t have to carry heavy items back home.”
Daily Mart stakes its advantage on convenience. The business sets up a trade-off between the hassle of traditional shopping – which burns petrol and time – and the mark-up that can accompany buying things online.
Daily Mart’s digital shelves house more than 1400 products. Customers who click around, fill their cart and order goods pick from among three delivery windows to wait for product drop-offs. After an order gets confirmed, Daily Mart fills it from stock at its warehouse and sends items via drivers to consumers’ doors across 24 of Yangon’s townships. Customers currently pay cash on delivery, while online payment will arrive soon.
For now, delivery on orders at more than K10,000 costs nothing – on other purchases, it could run customers up to K2000. Ko Htut Thant Syn called the company’s margins “very small”, and Ma Zin Mar Lwin said Daily Mart must keep its prices close to the market. The company sometimes buys stock in less bulk than other players, making the deals less attractive.
The shop casts a wide net to catch customers. Ko Htut Thant Syn said it targets everybody – expats, moms, elderly men and women – “because everybody has to go grocery shopping”. It should appeal particularly to the time-strapped, with Ma Zin Mar Lwin describing potential customers as people without their own means of getting around, or who don’t want to deal with sitting in traffic.
Customers Favorite brands: Acer, BangBang, Bata, Oppo, Samsung
There’s no mystery about the appeal. While many online Burmese shops, like Juno Myanmar Fashion and the wide-ranging (with hot lines!) American Store, are hosted on Facebook and, less often, on the old school Web, they don’t have the number and variety of products that Shop.com does. Shop.com now lists 2,000 products and 100 brands, according to Tanna, who is the Singapore-based co-managing director of Rocket’s Asia Pacific Internet Group, a joint venture formed in April 2014 between Rocket and Qatar mobile carrier Ooredoo. What are the Burmese buying online? “Phones and fashion are selling well,” Tanna said. “So are electronics, TVs and appliances. Feature phones are still popular too.” (We would have guessed cosmetics and other “beauty” products would be way up there.)
Among the top brands are Acer, Bata, BangBang (Korean clothing), Oppo (mobile phones–and much more popular than Xiaomi in Southeast Asia, despite Forbes Asia’s anointment), Philips and Samsung, which conduct complementary marketing efforts. Those partnerships probably also enable Shop.com to offer lower prices, since the smaller Burmese operations seem to source by buying products in Singapore, Thailand or the United States.