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The paradox of “getting rich” in pandemic duration: The e-commerce boom

(VLR) The worldwide spread of COVID-19 has brought challenges in health, humanitarianism and economy. However, this is also a chance to change the buying habit of consumers, creating a great force to promote e-commerce.

The COVID-19 epidemic has helped businesses’ sales for individual customer peak

The COVID-19 epidemic has helped businesses’ sales for individual customer peak

The uprising of online shopping

According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the COVID-19 epidemic has helped businesses’ sales for individual customer peak. In the Asia-Pacific market, omnichannel and online retails perform quite well in pandemic time, from consumer product, cosmetics to luxury products. A recent Nikkei survey on 4.273 businesses and customers during 19 March to 19 April 2020 in this region showed that up to 52% of respondents would like to increase online purchases; 32% of respondents claim not to change their buying method and only 10% of respondents refuse to trust online commerce.

According to the 2019 report of e-Conomy SEA, a long-term research program initiated by Google and Temasek, in Southeast Asia alone, the internet economy for this region of 570 million people is expected to increased more than three times, up to 300 billion USD worth of goods by 2025. This estimation was made before COVID-19 epidemic, but it also showed an increasing trend in online shopping in this region. During the pandemic, demand for online shopping and home delivery increase much more.

The advertising solutions company Criteo has also published the research result on impacts of COVID-19 epidemic on e-commerce. The online retail segment in Southeast Asian countries continue to grow with total sales in the third week of May increase by 106% when compared to the same period in 2019. Criteo conducted a survey with more than 15.000 people from 15 countries to study the effect of COVID-19 on consuming behavior. Accordingly, more than 50% of the respondents said that they will shop online more due to COVID-19. In the product c a t e g o r i e s, groceries and h o u s e h o l d products are the top shopping items. In Vietnam, 76% of respondents said that they shop online more than before, while only 15% of respondents said that they will still shop as usual, and 9% of respondents said that they shop less online.

Another recently published research by Mastercard Impact Studies showed that, the COVID-19 epidemic has contributed to the increase of digital economy in the Southeast Asia, by accelerating the application of e-commercial methods, home delivery, digital and contactless payments. According to this research, more than 40% of consumers participated in the survey in Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand reported to use home delivery service in April more than in March. Almost half of consumers participated in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand also said that during that time, they shopped online more.

Besides the change in consuming habits, there is a shift toward new payment methods across the region. According to the research mentioned above, a majority of consumers in the Southeast Asian markets surveyed said that since the COVID-19 epidemic outbreak, their use of cash has significantly decreased, with 67% in Singapore, 64% in Malaysia and Philippines, and 59% in Thailand. Together with that trend, contactless payment methods are becoming more and more popular. In Singapore, 31% of surveyed people said that they tend to make contactless payment by using credit cards. Meanwhile, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand witness the strongest growth in digital wallet and mobile wallet when compared to other contactless payment methods.

This report also indicates that, some trends and habits that have been developed to respond to the pandemic may continue to be used for longer term. In the long term, the growth of e-commerce revenue and cashless payment methods will be a strong base for any future development in the retail market.

The promotion of logistics service development

The increase of online shopping is promoting the needs for delivery service around the world. Together with the growth of e-commerce, delivery services are also developing strongly in this period.

Together with the growth of e-commerce, delivery services are also developing strongly in this period

Together with the growth of e-commerce, delivery services are also developing strongly in this period

The German company DHL said that its profits increased by 16% in the second quarter, when compared to last year in the same period, to about 890 million euro. Since the end of March, the company has recorded positive growth in freight volume thanks to the increase in online shopping of customers both inside and outside Germany. The Chinese express delivery company SF Express said that the number of their delivery orders has increased by 84.22% after one year, from 374 million orders in June 2019 to 689 million orders in June 2020.

According to Alibaba’s logistics services company Cainiao, Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao has launched a “special version” in March to focus on supporting the factories whose transactions are delayed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 epidemic. In its first launch, this new platform attracted 300,000 Chinese factories to register and made about 110 million orders. As of July, at least 1.2 million factories have participated in this platform, with sales increased by 6 times when compared to June, according to Cainiao.

Some Chinese startups are taking advantages of this trend. Mingming Huang, founding partner of the Future Capital Discovery Fund, said that the pandemic caused orders to increase faster, forced the logistics industry to develop digital technology to enhance efficiency. “In the future, the best logistics company must be a technology company”, Huang said. This Fund is investing in some companies such as Duckbill, Inteluck and Syrius. Duckbill develops artificial intelligence program to help trucks deliver more efficiently. Inteluck develops a third-party logistics service platform in Southeast Asia. And Syrius Robotics specializes in providing warehouses and automated logistics services.

(To be continued)

PhD. Bui Van Danh

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