Lockdowns during recent months had a devastating effect on economies and businesses. Yet, during this turbulent time some industries and sectors have actually grown. While most businesses are hunkering down, a few are attracting new customers faster than ever before. Here is a look at the unique pockets of industry where COVID-19 had a tremendous positive impact.
Online sales skyrocketed in March when the lockdowns were imposed and physical shops were forced to close. Ecommerce has continued to grow since then. Global online shopping volumes in May 2020 were 83% higher than in May 2019. Developed economies such as Russia and Australia recorded increases of more than 90% in online orders for groceries and home essentials. Developing economies like Argentina, Colombia, and Chile witnessed increases of more than 180% in ecommerce revenues in early July.
A large percentage of this spurt in online shopping is currently in just a few departments including food, medical supplies, and essentials. However, the more important impact of this change is the trend that it has set. Ecommerce vendors gained millions of new customers. More than 70% of online orders are placed on mobile devices. Having discovered the convenience of app-based shopping, these consumers are quite unlikely to revert to their old ways. Ecommerce will continue to grow long after the COVID-19 scare has passed.
Schools are shut and uncertainty looms over the prospect of resuming normalcy in education. Students and scholars worldwide need alternatives. Mobile apps are apparently the favorite solution to fill this gap. Education app downloads increased by 90% in March. This occurred shortly after the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Online learning platforms including Byju in India and Snapask in Hong Kong saw unprecedented increases in annual subscriptions. Tencent classroom, an online learning platform in China, recorded massive spurts of new users since February. More than 81% of K-12 students in China now attend classes online. The global online education services industry grew by 216% in May 2020, compared to its size in May 2019.
Distance learning platforms also became popular. Some higher institutions such as the Imperial College in London are offering many new online courses. Zhejiang University in China developed more than 5,000 online courses in collaboration with ecommerce giant Alibaba. DingTalk, the enterprise communication platform of Alibaba, was recently being used by 50 million students and 600,000 teachers for live streaming classes. The use of information technology and online resources in education is now an irreversible fact. Education will continue to become more technology-driven in the post-COVID-19 era.
Ordering food is more popular than ever. Shortly after the lockdown restaurants in the US and elsewhere were coping with increases in delivery orders by up to 67%. Home delivery is also a natural extension to shopping online. Instacart, Walmart, Shipt, and Target in the US reported that the daily downloads of their shopping apps nearly doubled. ‘Leave at my door’ and contactless delivery options have become very popular in China, India, the US, and the UK. Instead of taking monthly trips to the mall to stock-up, customers are now ordering smaller quantities as and when they need. Avoiding the commute and long lines is a bonus. Customers are getting addicted to the convenience of home delivery. There is every indication that this trend is here to stay.
Online gaming is one of the fastest growing industries since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. More than 4.3 million video games were sold worldwide within a single week from March 16 to 22. Tencent’s online gaming revenues surged 31% between late January and mid March. Gaming traffic during peak hours has increased 75% since March. Online video streaming grew by 12% and YouTube gaming expanded by 15% in March. More people seem to be turning to gaming to keep them distracted throughout the crisis.
All manner of mobile-based payments are on the rise globally, particularly in developing countries. Forbes reported that over 7 million fintech apps had been downloaded since the COVID-19 crisis started. Google pay was the foremost among these, with over 15 million downloads in February alone. More than 9.5 million transactions worth over $593 million were made in Nigeria in May. One mobile payments platform, Paga wallet, saw 330% quarter-on-quarter growth in new signups and digital transactions. Some remittance platforms recorded more than 100% growth in transfers via digital channels. More people are opting to send money online as opposed to conventional channels.
About the author:
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.