Booming Myanmar Online Retail Business
Amelia Lynn
February , 2017

According to media reports, Myanmar has more than 39 million Internet users and four telecom operators have sold a record 43.72 million SIM cards by 2016. For many years SIM cards in Myanmar were expensive and difficult to obtain, but after Norway’s Telenor and Qatar’s Ooreedoo were awarded licenses to operate telecom business in Myanmar, the game changed radically. The cards sold by the Telenor, Ooredoo and MPT (Myanmar Post & Telecommunications) networks are now generally available for a cheap 1500 Kyats. SIM cards and topups can be bought easily at numerous stores. This triggered an unprecedented growth rate in Internet penetration. The number of people using the Internet has risen quickly within a 2-year time. With the widespread use of Internet, people got to experience modern technologies and online services. Among them, popularity of online shopping has increased dramatically among Myanmar people.

Online shopping has become a popular shopping method ever since the Internet revolution. Its convenience is the biggest perk. Shopping can be done right from home or office in minutes 24/7. Cheap deals and better prices are available mostly online and many online shops offer discount coupons. Most physical stores have a limited array of products. They can only hold limited items, and there are often many policies affecting the availability of products. Shopping online allows shoppers to find many products that they would not be able to find in a physical store. Shoppers do not need to walk back and forth between stores to get different type of items. Due to the many advantages of online shopping, online stores have become a booming business in Myanmar.

As banks also started offering Visa card and Master card services, people can do online shopping not only from local websites, but also from international stores. However, only a few stores provide delivery service to Myanmar and some stores accept only PayPal for transactions, which is not yet available in Myanmar. Thus more and more local online shops appeared and offer products not only from local but also international brands.

Even so people still find it inconvenient to use online shopping websites. As those websites are large in size, it takes long to load. Also there is lack of interaction with the shoppers. The biggest drawback is that online payment is not easy, as few consumers have online bank accounts and there are no locally issued credit cards. This leads to the growing number of online stores on social media. As stated by MMRD, 96% of Internet users in Myanmar use social media. Facebook becomes the most popular social media platform with 93% using it, followed by Viber at 80% and Twitter is at 6%. Almost every Internet user in Myanmar has a Facebook account thus business owners started doing business on the social media and investing more on Facebook Ads. It enables many individuals especially young people to start their own business by opening a Facebook online shop with little to no capital. All they have to do is decide what to sell and look for the product supplier. If everything is ready, they can set up a Facebook page in minutes and start selling.

Since so many people use Facebook for personal social media as mentioned, it’s often easier and more familiar than using a website builder or blog. Since Facebook is a huge company with billions of people using their platform, its regular updates and continual mobile optimization of the Facebook app makes it mobile friendly. Asking friends to share the posts of their products can do page promotion easily. One popular method is to do giveaway event; giving one or more of products free for promotional purposes.