COVID-19: The E-Commerce Opportunity

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has taken its toll since its outbreak last March 2020. On top of thousands of deaths and millions of positive cases worldwide, it has also negatively impacted the economy of most countries, particularly in Southeast Asia.

In Malaysia, for instance, during the announcement of their Movement Control Order (MCO), non-essential businesses were asked to temporarily suspend their operations. All houses of worship, academic institutions, and other public places in the country were commanded to close to curb the transmission of COVID-19. Restrictions were also made in terms of the entry of foreign tourists to Malaysia.Moreover, due to numerous rules on social distancing as well as the implementation of health and safety protocols worldwide, only one person per household is allowed to leave the house for important matters like grocery shopping and roads have been closed in different parts of the country.

Nevertheless, the COVID-19 lockdowns and temporary suspension of operations of non-essential businesses along with restricted movements to physical shopping malls and grocery stores though provided more opportunities for the E-Commerce industry.

Based on one survey, at least 60% of respondents in Malaysia shifted to online shopping since lockdowns were implemented as compared to pre-COVID times. Based on the study of Vase.ai, well-known online grocery shops in the country were Mydin Online and Tesco Online.

According to web design Malaysia agency, the E-commerce industry is one of the essential services not just in Malaysia, but also, in other neighbouring Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore. Aside from the fact that most people are more than willing to purchase their needs online at the moment, changes in lifestyle and routines like the need to work from home and exploration of new interests while staying at home also provided greater opportunities for the E-Commerce industry to expand on a global scale.

In terms of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the supply and demand chain of the Southeast Asian economy, the shipment of E-commerce parcels through sea freight is deemed more affordable and faster compared to air freight deliveries from China, wherein the possibilities of getting delays are high.

As for E-Commerce giants such as Ebay and Amazon, media has reported that the sales of these two online platforms have been significantly increasing at the moment. Amazon also confirmed the opening of 100,000 jobs in the United States, as part of their initiative to meet the high demands that the pandemic has caused. Furthermore, the E-Commerce giant will be hosting the “Amazon Accelerate,” which is a three-day virtual conference on September 1 to 3, 2020. This aims to assist the small and medium-sized business (SMB) sellers to adjust to the current situation and make “a strong finish to 2020 and beyond.”

Before COVID-19, Amazon was estimated to have a net of $81.2 billion in revenue for the second quarter of 2020. But due to the pandemic, its numbers totaled to $88.9 billion, which is a 40% markup in terms of year-over-year growth.

Ebay, along with Amazon, also ranked higher in the retail E-commerce sales of the United States, where it sits at 4.7%.

Currently, with a greater dependence on online shopping, more people expect logistics partners and merchants to be more communicative in terms of the E-Commerce experience. Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has and is currently providing more opportunities for the E-Commerce industry to grow, as it becomes the main preference of consumers during these challenging times.

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