Many businesses have moved online and sales using digital platforms have doubled since the coronavirus outbreak, according to Myanmar’s e-commerce industry body.U Aye Chan, E-Commerce Association of Myanmar chair, said retail stores have been hit by COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions but on line shopping has boomed in the same period.
The World Bank’s latest firm-level survey found that 83 percent of firms in Myanmar reported negative impacts, an increase from the 75pc reported in August, before the second wave hit. Firms of all sizes in Yangon Region were affected by temporary closures in September as the regional government imposed a stay-at-home order to limit the virus spread. As compared to August, all sectors except agriculture saw a rise in the number of firms temporarily closing. Reduction in sales remains the number one concern of companies surveyed.
U Aye Chan told The Myanmar Times that the same period saw a jump in e-commerce and business activities on digital platforms. Suppliers have risen significantly and also demand has risen significantly, he said. More and more sellers and buyers are relying on trade in digital platforms, he added, an observation backed by the World Bank study.
In Myanmar, still largely a cash-based economy, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced individuals, employers and businesses to move online, driving the growth of e-commerce and e-services.
But significant risks remain. The ongoing internet restrictions in the restive states of Rakhine and Chin as well as blocking of websites of activists and media outlets raise doubts over whether consumers in Myanmar can rely on e-services.
According to the World Bank survey, 28pc said that they do not have any challenges with selling goods or services online. Nearly one in five companies reported that their greatest challenge firms face is the lack of IT capacity and technological skills. Adaptation rates among the manufacturing and retail and wholesale firms have slightly increased. Agricultural and micro firms, however, were less likely to utilize digital platforms amid the COVID-19 health restrictions.