Over time, Myanmar’s traditional craft industry has begun to fade due to a lower demand from buyers as well as relying on promotion and marketing strategies that fall behind modern businesses and competitors. To cope with a lower demand for their products, traditional craft producers inevitably are having to shift their practice to a lower production rate and a higher retail price. That is why traditional Myanmar arts and crafts product sales have been diminishing, even among the local customer base.
On one hand, a narrower market, lower demand, and higher prices are some of the current challenges for the craft artists and producers.
On the other hand a scarce supply of raw materials, once available in abundance, has become another major challenge.
Despite this adversity, there is one traditional arts and crafts company here that is thriving through adopting a modern approach to sales and marketing. A simple internet search can give you easy access to an online market place of Myanmar traditional arts and crafts, many of which cannot be found in most formal shopping outlets.
The ecommerce website ‘yoeyarzay.com">www.yoeyarzay.com’ sells not only traditional Myanmar arts and crafts but other locally produced products too. The website was introduced and launched to the public in English and Burmese last October and has garnered much attention from domestic customers and foreign travellers alike.
“If there is lower demand from buyers and a narrow market, there isn’t much production. At such times, if you raise the price of a limited quantity of products to be in conformity with the production cost, people will say traditional craft items are expensive. This will reduce demand from buyers’. The wider the market and the higher demand is, the more stable prices can be,” said Dr Aung Hein, managing director of MOSD, a marketing and advertising company which is developing the ecommerce platform of Yoeyarzay.
The website brings together approximately 60 vendors and their traditional items. The vendors list their crafts on the website with detailed information and then can deal directly with buyers for inquiries and transactions. Vendors who can’t upload their product information online can directly contact the Yoeyarzay office. Yoeyarzay advertises the products on its website and earns a percentage of the retail price as commission. There are no other fees or taxes applied. Any traditional product which is not legally restricted can be listed on the website.
This method of advertising traditional Myanmar products on the website and through social media networks locally and internationally is saving time and bringing benefit for traditional craft businesses and producers. Moreover, this practice may even be considered to be a helpful tool in the preservation of Myanmar’s traditional heritage.
“If the craft business is to be maintained and to thrive, it will need the support and encouragement of Myanmar people. Some local products can stand up to international standards and some cannot. So, if domestic products are of good quality, we should support their sales by buying these locally produced products,” Dr Aung Hein added.
On the Yoeyarzay website, items are listed with detailed specifications along with the price for the consideration of customers. It currently has eleven categories including Traditional Fashion, Gifts, Decorative Items, and Food and Supplements to name a few. Many of the items are made in true traditional form from natural materials like bamboo and paper. The Toys section has miniature musical instrument and figurine sets and paint-your-own toy animal sets. Would-be customers may also go and see the items at the Yoeyarzay head office as well as at the recently opened Yadanbon 24-Hour Shop in Yangon.
The website operator is currently connected with art and craft vendors from Mandalay, Yangon, Myeik and Monwya and some towns in Kayah State through conducting online and offline marketing services with the aim of achieving success by penetrating the domestic market first and then by expanding abroad.
The items on the website which are most in demand by local and foreign customers are slate boards, woven palm frond baskets with removable covers, traditional marionettes for home decoration and souvenir gifts.
According to Dr Aung Hein, as well as their current operations selling the items through the website, Facebook messenger and over the phone, Yoeyarzay also plans to create an application as a platform to further increase their sales. Moreover in order to satisfy buyers further, items can be returned or exchanged within 14 days of purchase making Yoeyarzay the best online shopping platform for traditional Myanmar arts and crafts.