Novel Coronavirus Accelerates
Online Consumption & Distribution in China
Online consumption of fresh food and non-face-to-face delivery are skyrocketing… Need to work on strategies to expand online distribution channels -
With the spread of the novel
coronavirus, Chinese consumers’ consumption patterns and distribution methods
are rapidly restructured centering on online.
According to a report
titled, “Changes in Chinese Consumption Market Caused by Novel Coronavirus and Implications” issued by the
Institute for International Trade (President: Shin Seung-kwan) of the Korea
International Trade Association on February 13th, as home-based work
and limited outdoor activities are becoming more common nationwide in China,
online purchase of daily necessities, online order and delivery from offline
stores, non-face-to-face offline delivery, and online purchase of
over-the-counter medicines have been skyrocketing.
The purchase of necessities
such as fresh food, processed food, and medicines through e-commerce is
popular. Vegetable sales via China's e-commerce platform Jingdong increased by
4.5 times compared to the same period of the Chinese New Year holiday last year
(January 24th to February 2nd). Orders for fresh food via
Beijing Jingkelong Supermarket reached 700,000kg for three days from the New
Year's Day and overall delivery orders increased by more than 4.5 times
In addition, large-scale supermarkets,
small and medium-sized stores, and traditional markets operated offline are
also working with e-commerce platforms to introduce O2O (Online-to-Offline)
delivery service. Beijing's upscale restaurant Huajia Yiyuan, which has lost
customers since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, is making profit from
selling vegetables that are wholesaled to the restaurant through an online
order and delivery platform.
Fresh food is no exception.
Non-face-to-face and contactless delivery services for all fresh food are
widely available. Hema Xiansheng, Ele.me and others share the delivery
information via text and apps, and provide the services that deliver only to
designated locations such as the front of the house, the entrance, and the
front desk. At the same time, smart distribution methods using artificial
intelligence and robots such as unmanned autonomous robots, unmanned logistics,
and unmanned supermarkets are in the spotlight.
In order to curb the spread
of novel coronavirus, the Chinese government has also requested each province
and city to expand the e-commerce distribution channels for fresh food by
strengthening producer-seller matching service.
Furthermore, the Chinese government is promoting smooth supply of
consumer goods and stabilization of the market by announcing ‘green channel’
policy which prohibits activities that obstruct traffic of daily necessities
delivery vehicles and strengthening market price monitoring.
Park So-young, a senior
researcher at the Institute for International Trade, said, “Like the SARS
outbreak resulted in the rapid growth of e-commerce platforms such as Taobao
and Jingdong 17 years ago, the novel coronavirus is bringing another big change
to the Chinese consumer market,” and stressed, “When the next-generation technologies such as unmanned delivery and
telemedicine become commercially available in China, online consumption is
expected to expand further. Therefore, it is necessary to expand direct online
distribution channels by actively utilizing China's major mobile platforms.”