E-COMMERCE GETS A BOOST DUE TO COVID-19 AS CUSTOMERS STAY INDOORS
In many countries where the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has made an impact, social distancing and isolation measures have been implemented by various governing bodies. Workers in some infected countries have been asked to work from home, cities have been placed under lockdown, schools and universities are also temporarily shut. People have also begun avoiding public and crowded places. In such an environment, where an increasing number of people are also working from home, many firms are taking steps to bring convenience to customers and to win their trust.
Although the COVID-19 outbreak has caused many activities to stop, it has paved the way for e-Commerce to flourish since consumers are now switching to online channels to buy products and services and desist from going to crowded spaces to avoid the risk of catching the virus. In Malaysia, the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected ride-hailing and online food ordering segments. However, it has come as a boom for the e-Commerce companies since more people prefer buying goods, especially grocery items, vegetables and other daily needs from online platforms. This is partly driven by the fact that they don’t want to go to the (physical) stores, and there are also who are stocking up on essentials over fears of these items running out.
These trends are similar to consumer patterns in China in the last 3 months, where consumers increasingly relied on the internet to get their daily supplies and other products because of COVID-19. According to experts, the sales of online products had almost doubled due to the outbreak especially in product groups related to protection against the virus. Moreover, the search for the keyword ‘sanitary face masks’ increased by 3,500 percent in February 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, said the CEO and co-founder of Priceza, a popular e-Commerce hub in Thailand. According to industry insiders, e-Commerce companies such as Amazon, Flipkart, Bigbasket, and Grofers have recorded about a 20-30 percent increase in orders as customers are avoiding visiting crowded places like malls and supermarkets.
Recent research from YouGov survey found that 85% of internet users in China and 83% of those in Hong Kong said they had avoided crowded public places in the past two weeks. More than a quarter (27%) of those in the US and 14% in the UK said the same. As for Malaysia, over 70% of respondents prefer to avoid public places. This data clearly indicates that the COVID-19 outbreak has affected the social activities of people around the globe. Since more consumers continue avoiding crowded public places, they will increasingly turn to online shopping to get their essentials.
Subsequently, many e-Commerce firms are putting in extra efforts to monitor their supply-chain and delivery network. Some companies also have put in place thermal scanners and guns to check physical temperatures of their staff daily. Meanwhile, here at Epost, we are committed to taking safety precautions as well by sanitizing parcels at all of our warehouses throughout the SEA, as well as Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, and China. This will help to reduce customer anxiety and retain their confidence with our services and reduce the risk of the virus spreading.
Whether this boom in e-Commerce sales will prove to be a long-term switch once the spread of COVID-19 comes to an end, is open to debate. Numbers of shoppers may return to their old habits, but others who have begun shopping regularly online for their favourite brands for the first time may continue to do so. After all, in times of strife like this, businesses must adapt and think to the future to thrive.
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