Online market vibrant amid Covid-19 outbreak

Receiving calls continuously, noting orders and delivery addresses of customers, and checking messages on Facebook and Zalo are daily duties of many employees of online stores in Ho Chi Minh City. Because during this time, many consumers are afraid of going shopping due to concerns over the Covid-19 outbreak.
A shipper delivers goods to a customer. (Photo: SGGP)
A shipper delivers goods to a customer. (Photo: SGGP)

According to Ms. Linh, the owner of the Facebook account named Tinna Linh, in the past week, the number of orders for hand sanitizers, room sprays, and functional foods that strengthen the health resistance for adults and children increased strongly, nearly doubling that on normal days.

‘Customers were not interested in these products before, now they buy them massively. Our stock is not enough for the demand of our customers,’ said Ms. Linh.

Ms. Le Ha Vien, the founder of the fan page Cho dau cua Vien (Vien’s strawberry market), shared that she always runs out of strawberries, avocados, sweet potatoes, and asparagus. The number of orders increased by 20-30 percent compared to normal days. Every day, her customers make 20-30 orders with a value of VND200,000-VND300,000 per order. She said that the specific characteristics of her products are that vegetables are cut in the afternoon and sold in the early morning of the next day so she limits only 20 orders per day to ensure the quality. During this time, she has ten additional orders. Some days, the number of orders rocketed, she had to reject some of her customers because she did not have enough vegetables to provide for them.

Several accounts on the social networking sites, including Zalo and Facebook, have also promoted sales of processed food at reasonable prices because they do not have to pay for the premises rental and the labor cost. Mr. Nguyen Minh Phuong, the owner of a diner specialized in beef noodles and rice noodles in Hung Ngan Apartment Building in District 12, said that since his former landlord took back the business premises, his family cooks right in their apartment. Regular patrons just need to order food then he will deliver it to their houses.

Ms. Tran Gia Thuan, the owner of a paint store in District 12, said that over a month, the business has been sluggish due to the pandemic. Near her store, some stores had to close because there were no customers. Some of her friends have shifted from direct selling to online selling to salvage the revenue. Ms. Phuong Mai, a fast-food shipper in Binh Thanh District, said that the number of customers ordering fast food for lunch and dinner increased sharply, causing her and her colleagues to hardly have time to breathe.

More surprisingly, there is also the delivery service for expensive jewelry made of gold and silver in the market. For instance, the Phu Nhuan Jewelry Joint Stock Company is willing to deliver orders of jewelry worth below VND20 million by cash on delivery (COD) shipping. As for orders worth above VND20 million, they will also be delivered to customers if they already make deposits. Recently, due to concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus, many consumers have switched to online shopping. E-commerce platforms, including Sendo, Tiki, Shopee, Lazada, and Amazon, have seen sharp increases in their revenues. In the past few days, some websites experienced overloading due to a sudden increase in the number of customers. Customers were disconnected when they logged in these websites to place orders.

Besides, by receiving orders via telephone and delivering goods to customers’ houses, shopping centers and supermarkets have also boosted strongly the number of orders. For instance, the Southern Big C supermarket network, the number of online customers rose to 90 orders per day, or 1,800 orders in 20 days since the beginning of February this year. The Co.opmart supermarket network also said that sales through the online shopping channel were much higher than before the outbreak of the Covid-19.

Saving time and avoiding going to crowded places are outstanding advantages of online shopping. This tendency has become more popular and is encouraged by ministries and industries amid the context that consumers, especially young people, use less and less cash. However, the Ministry of Industry and Trade also warned that customers should be cautious when choosing products online to avoid risks. Especially when the ministry recently uncovered that several poor quality products for the prevention of the Covid-19 outbreak were selling widely on prestigious e-commerce platforms.