BizBeat Ep. 42: Keeping consumers safe during peak shopping season
By Michael Wang
Keeping the holiday shopping spirit booming and consumers healthy and safe – that's what China did this year during its peak shopping season, or the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year.
Normally, Chinese New Year sees the world's biggest human migration as billions of trips are made across the country with people bearing billions of gifts rushing home to celebrate with family and friends.
But this year has been different. People have been encouraged to stay put, travel less and avoid crowded areas in order to prevent a major outbreak of the coronavirus.
China succeeded on that front. There was no major outbreak during what is normally the busiest time for travel in China.
But more people staying put and traveling less doesn't mean that a damper should be put on the festive shopping surge seen during Chinese New Year.
That's why China moved Spring Festival shopping online in order to ensure both the health and safety of its people and to meet the needs of the upswell in holiday consumption.
For example, I've spent my holiday right here in Beijing instead of visiting relatives in China's northeast like I normally do.
To send my holiday greetings, I've ordered a special gift basket on my phone and sent it directly to family members in another province. E-commerce platforms are seeing a big jump in orders placed in one city and sent to another city.
To meet the overflow of demand, six government departments worked around the clock with e-commerce platforms who in turn work with merchants and express companies to make sure supply meets demand. They're also working to ensure that deliveries get to their destinations on time.
The online Chinese New Year shopping festival has seen sales surpass 700 billion yuan or over $100 billion in a span of some 20 days. It's a colossal test for China's e-commerce industry as COVID-19 containment measures cause online buying to surge.
China's e-commerce industry is passing that test, with platforms reporting sales of beverages, vegetables and fruits more than doubling compared to the same period last year.
Home appliances, consumer electronics, health and wellness products are in high demand, rural areas are being better served, big data is driving increasing precision in the delivery of fresh foods, and smarter supply chains are shortening restocking time, delivery time while increasing delivery coverage area.
This pressure cooker environment is really pushing China's e-commerce industry to grow even more resilient – serving the needs of now nearly 1 billion internet users in this country.
I may not have gone home for family reunions this year during Spring Festival, but I know my best wishes were delivered right on time.