April 24, 2017 01:00 By KHINE KYAW MYANMAR ELEVEN ASIA NEWS NETWORK YANGON
THOUGH a large percentage of Myanmar’s 53-million population still prefer going out to shop, more than half a million people visit Shop.com.mm, the nation’s leading e-commerce platform, for online shopping on a monthly basis, said its chief.
Sumit Jasoria, managing director of Shop.com.mm, said in an interview that the firm was seeing some good growth for its business in Myanmar now, though the platform was built up less than three years ago. The firm spent about six months doing market research before entering the country.
“Myanmar has been a surprise for us. Initially, it was slow for us as people did not trust us and they were not aware of us, but now we see good growth in people trying online shopping. I see a lot of people who now only order online and do not go to their nearby marts as they find it convenient to buy online,” he said.
He said the firm had “very aggressive” targets for growth, but he did not explain the targets in detail, or the exact number of sales and revenue, citing business confidentiality.
To achieve its targets, the company is focusing on forging partnerships with local and international sellers. It now has more than 500 local partners selling on the website and will bring in international partners very soon to come out with a lot more offers for customers to ensure that they try online shopping.
“We have a mix of local and foreign brands and we ensure that we continue to grow our assortment of products so that the customers can get more choices. The [biggest] selling items are mobile phones, electronics and fashion items,” he said.
Philips is the biggest sales driver for electronics, and popular mobile-phone brands like Samsung, Huawei and Lenovo have good sales on the website. For fashion, brands like Springfield, Kipling, Timberland and Skechers mainly drive its sales.
Jasoria said the company’s targets were young people who are working and busy with their careers.
“They do not have time to go out and do shopping, and they are the ones who will try online shopping first. We generally try to serve all type of customers, as we sell more than 20,000 different products online,” he said.
Jasoria was proud to say that the company has a very extensive network that ensures delivery of products across the country so that anyone can order online and get the products at his or her home.
“We have been building the online shopping ecosystem in Myanmar with continuous efforts to educate the people [on the] benefits of online shopping and working with all brands closely to make sure that products reach customers in the shortest possible time,” he said.
Despite the existence of a couple of e-commerce companies in Myanmar, Jasoria assumed that his company’s biggest competition would remain Facebook groups and webpages that sell products online. Guaranteeing the quality of the products Shop.com offers sets it apart from its rivals in the market, he said.
“We only sell new and genuine products. All products go through a QC [quality-control check] before being delivered to the customer. If the customer is still not happy, then we have this seven-day return policy, and we refund the money back to customer. Even if the product [becomes] faulty after some time, we help our customers get it serviced [at] the official service centres,” he said.
Jasoria said the biggest challenge was people’s trust in online shopping. To build trust, the firm occasionally holds offline sales events at big supermarkets such as Myanmar Plaza. There the firm displays selected brands, while customers can buy them at one sitting and can also order other products advertised online. Recently, the firm held an offline event on weekends ahead of the Thingyan water festival.
“The spending in Myanmar varies from time to time, like Thingyan sales always have good spending, as people get bonuses. Black Friday and Mobile Week have their own spending patterns and I can just say that it has improved a lot, and people when they come online buy more products as the prices are cheaper,” he said.
“We are continuously reading the market and we track all things which the customers do so that we can make the website better for them to use and also bring world class technologies to Myanmar.”
Jasoria also considers logistics, deliveries and payments as major challenges. For delivery, the firm has its own team and also works with good delivery companies to ensure that products reach customers very quickly. It works with Myanmar Post for long-distance deliveries.
The firm is cooperating with several banks to launch its online payment system soon, in addition to using existing services such as AGD Pay, OK Dollar, and Wave Money.
“Today, customers can pay by cash on delivery as well as swipe on delivery, where the delivery person carries a POS [point of sale] machine and the customer can pay via Visa, MasterCard, or MPU cards based on his choice. We are launching our online payment system very soon in Myanmar where customers can pay via any bank card. We are [in discussions] for cooperation with international companies, but I think that will take some time,” he said.