Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Along with the decline of in-person services come opportunities in areas including online shopping, online education and telehealth.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, millions of people in China have made drastic changes to their lifestyles. The outbreak has shifted people's consumption habits from offline to online in a range of sectors, including shopping, entertainment and education. As with the rapid rise of online shopping after the outbreak of SARS in 2003, many online sectors will see new opportunities. With the offline economy having been affected because of restrictions, e-commerce is positioned to boost economic growth.
Online food shopping
As people are advised to stay at home amid the novel coronavirus outbreak in China, many people have turned to fresh food delivery apps instead of venturing out to the market. JD Fresh, the fresh food arm of Chinese e-commerce giant JD, saw orders rising 215% year-over- year in the first nine days of the Chinese Lunar New Year. Another fresh food delivery app, Missfresh, has seen its orders surge by 300% year-over-year during the outbreak. The industry is often restrained by consumers’ preferences for tradition; now with circumstances changed, the market may continue to expand and more opportunities will emerge.
Under these circumstances, prospects are bright for the logistics industry. Authorities have announced plans to promote contactless deliveries and intelligent lockers to reduce risk and promote safety. Therefore, it is expected that even after the outbreak, the need for contactless delivery will still be on the rise, along with other development of intelligent lockers, unmanned aerial vehicles and even self-driving delivery cars.
As schools across China are required to delay the start of the spring semester, online education is also seeing usage surge. More than 600,000 teachers from different cities and counties nationwide have been holding lessons on the livestreaming platform Dingding, Alibaba's remote office system, in a single day. According to data released by iScope, a big data platform under iFLYTEK, the number of people using online education platforms has reached 200 million. The key word “livestream course” search has surged by 800% compared to this search during summer vacation in 2019. Data also showed that most new user growth came from third-tier or below cities in China. Therefore, in the long run, the outbreak will speed up the integration of online and offline education services. Those who are able to offer solid and stable services will gain an advantage.
Online medical services
On Feb. 8, China's National Health Commission issued a notice requiring health administrations at all levels to give full consideration to online medical consultations in the prevention and control of the epidemic. China's online platforms, including Alibaba and JD.com, have also launched free consultation services where thousands of medical professionals from all over the country are providing medical services. JD.com’s health arm, JD Health, and global biopharmaceutical company UCB jointly launched a single-disease care platform, “Epilepsy Care Center,” on JD.com to help epilepsy patients get access to services and medications they need when it is difficult for them to visit hospitals. In addition, requirements for a healthy lifestyle, such as physical exercise and losing weight, are seeing increased public awareness as a result of the epidemic. Indoor exercise-related apps have seen a daily active user increase of 46.8%. This interest in lifestyle change is expected to be long-lasting, and companies that capture market share now will have an advantage in the long run.