Online sales boom amid COVID-19: e-commerce body

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 Sep tember as the regional government imposed a stay-at-home order to limit the virus spread.As compared to August, all sectors ex cept agriculture saw a rise in the number of firms temporarily closing. Reduction in sales remains the number one concern of compa nies surveyed.

The share of firms reporting a reduction in sales was 93pc in September, a 12 percentage points increase from the preceding month. Reductions in sales are also the top concern for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, whereas this is less of a concern for larger companies affected by temporary closure and restrictions.

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 obser vation 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.The authorities are set to legislate a raft of new regulations to catch up with the digital economy.

But significant risks remain. The ongoing internet restrictions in the restive states of Ra khine 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. The censorship has also been criti cised by telco operators and business cham bers, who warn that the move hurts Myanmar’s reputation as an investment destination.

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 in creased. Agricultural and micro firms, however, were less likely to utilise digital platforms amid the
COVID-19 health restrictions.

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Source : Myanmar Times

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