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The unrivaled spread of COVID-19 commonly known as CoronaVirus has presented a major opportunity for ecommerce businesses to thrive despite the fear of the disease spreading. 

With more and more people staying indoors as a precautionary measure, consumers are looking for alternatives when doing their shopping. What this means is that online retail sales will experience a boom and growth in business at the end of 2021, possibly making it larger than offline retail sales for the first time. 

With self-isolation being the new norm and the major 31% drop in travel bookings, this decline has ecommerce companies reporting brisk business in recent weeks. With escalating demands for specific products across Southeast Asia, with reports of masks and hand sanitizers being sold out at pharmacies and supermarkets. Regional ecommerce platform Lazada says “This is not a time to boast about increases in business, but we have seen increases compared to one to two weeks ago across Southeast Asia, with certain category clusters seeing a 30% to 40% rise compared to a week ago.” 

Big ecommerce players have already undergone a substantial increase in demand. For instance, JD.com a Chinese ecommerce company headquartered in Beijing has reported that online sales of fresh food surged over 215% in recent weeks compared to a year earlier. In particular, the demand for fresh vegetables has skyrocketed a whopping 450%. Even though fresh food has been available online for several years, consumers have yet to be used to ordering it online. However, due to the current outbreak, it may trigger a shift in their preferences when they recognize that ordering fresh foods online is pretty convenient during this crisis. 

Others are also developing autonomous last-mile delivery robots and operating an autonomous delivery service in certain areas of China. A medical delivery drone flew as the first urban-air transportation channel to help to fight the COVID-19 crisis. Now companies are adapting it to deliver packages. Ecommerce company JD.com, delivered its first order on February 7 in Wuhan using a delivery drone. With this, the acceptance of robot deliveries could greatly accelerate. 

Though it is unsure if the epidemic will last for a long time, Chinese ecommerce platforms are bustling to hire thousands of part-time workers, as the COVID-19 virus outbreak and government-imposed travel restrictions have boosted consumer demand for online grocery delivery services. Their recruitment strategy involves hiring temporary staff from smaller firms and restaurants, whose operations are currently struggling amid the health crisis.

Online store demands will keep growing now but will consumers see the value of ecommerce once the COVID-19 crisis is over?