Under the influence of the epidemic, people have to avoid going out to reduce the chance of infection. Many physical stores have been forced to suspend business during the outbreak. Customers shift their shopping channels from physical stores to online stores. Food delivery, online games, remote working and online training class become the new normal. It led to a rise of a new economic model – the “stay-at-home economy”.
eCommerce giant Amazon has added 400,000 jobs in 2020 to meet the surging demand for online shopping. Online sales growth is also significant in Mainland China, especially for fresh food retailers. The sales volume of JD Fresh, Daily Fresh, Hema Fresh and other businesses has grown several times. Anti-epidemic-related products such as masks and alcohol, as well as products such as cleaning, beauty, health care, and home fitness, have also become hot-selling items on online channels during the epidemic. While fewer people are willing to eat out, the demand for food delivery services is rising. Major delivery platforms such as UberEATs and Foodpanda have seen significant growth in their orders during the epidemic.
To cope with the loss in retail sales, many brick-and-mortar stores quickly shift their offline business to online operations by operating brand official websites, launching mobile apps, or joining existing e-commerce platforms. Creative business operators have also utilized new technology in operations. For example, to make “contactless delivery” service possible, Mainland China’s eCommerce company JD.com uses smart robots to provide unmanned delivery services during the epidemic. Meituan Takeaway in Mainland China sets up “smart meal cabinets” with smart heat preservation, heating, cooling, and disinfection functions in Beijing, Wuhan and other places. Consumers only need to use the password received on their mobile phone or scan the mobile phone screen The QR Code can complete the meal pickup.
As the epidemic accelerates the use of digital technology, not only is it driving smarter lives, but companies are also accelerating digital transformation. Remote tools that were only used on a small scale before the epidemic are now being widely used. Business meetings, seminars and classes are now conducted through remote tools like Zoom Video. Virtual work-from-home practices continue for some employees even while some US states and countries are beginning to open up. Since the remote tools are being widely used, it provides a large amount of online user data to the industries to promote the development of more tools or services, and to improve the user interface.
As the COVID-19 epidemic is unlikely to disappear soon, it is believed that the wave of digital transformation will continue to be accelerated in various industries. As many technologies and applications are becoming more and more mature, further integration of multiple technologies such as cloud, big data, Internet of Things, AI, 5G is facilitated. Applications that are integrated into fields like food, clothing, housing, transportation, education, entertainment, finance, etc. may emerge in the near future. Even after we are recovered from the epidemic, this wave of digital transformation will have an impact on the overall economic development pattern.