HANOI, July 26 (Xinhua) — An old lady picked up a phone call and hurriedly ran to the front gate of her house in Long Bien District of Hanoi on Sunday afternoon. A delivery man in red was awaiting.
Receiving a medium-sized box from the man, the lady eagerly questioned if she could open the box right away.
Vo Thi Thu, 71, shopped online for the first time in her entire life. With her daughter’s help, Thu found a portable noodle thread making machine online and placed the order two days ago.
“I have been waiting for the delivery man since then. I would have shopped online sooner if I had known it is that convenient,” Thu told Xinhua with a bright smile, eyes on the newly-received item.
Unlike Thu, 28-year-old Pham Thi Hoa has purchased online for several times. However, instead of shopping for only cosmetics as she did before, Hoa started to order fresh food home.
A few hours ago, Hoa ordered some fish, eggs, vegetables and fruits via the shopping application VinID and is now expecting delivery.
“I don’t need to go shopping for ingredients anymore. Now I just need to cook some simple dishes,” the woman said, satisfying that she would have more time to do other housework at weekends.
Hoa decided to order fresh food online for the first time in March, when the COVID-19 outbreak discouraged people from social gathering. Earlier, the young woman believed that food must be selected by her own hand for safety and quality.
“But after a few tries, I am so relieved that the experiences met up to 90 percent of my expectation. That is quite OK,” she told Xinhua.
Thu and Hoa are among thousands of shoppers in Vietnam having their buying behaviors changed during the pandemic: they either shop online for the first time in their lives, or start to order things that they have never bought before.
Social distancing requirements, which were released when the COVID-19 epidemic reached its peak in the country in March and April, challenged businesses and production across sectors without warning and left them no choice except for adapting.
Many non-essential physical stores were forced to close until further notice. Stores that remained open also suffered from decreasing customers. The pandemic that no one sees coming has swept away the growth momentum of the economy in general, of firms in particular.
However, it is also the very pandemic that helped to build new buying behaviors for the online market, with a large number of consumers’ transactions moving online.
A recent survey by the Paris-based market research company Ipsos revealed that many Vietnamese people have restricted access to fresh food markets because of the outbreak. Some 30 percent of the respondents also shop less frequently at supermarkets, while prioritizing e-commerce platforms or home delivery food services at the same time.
Meanwhile, shopping online has become more and more popular in the first half of 2020, especially during the social distancing period, said Vietnam’s General Statistics Office. Despite the severe impacts of COVID-19 on the whole economy, the country’s retail sales revenue rose 3.4 percent against the same period last year, with food and foodstuff witnessing the largest increase of 7 percent.
Acknowledging that consumers are now turning to e-commerce to meet their shopping needs, brands and sellers across sectors have timely adjusted their business models, in other words venturing online while exploring new strategies to reach and engage with consumers.
Supermarkets have rushed to offer online shopping services, especially via applications. E-commerce platforms such as Shopee, Lazada and Tiki have been launching promotion campaigns more frequently, in addition to offering diverse training activities that aim to better marketing strategies of the sellers.
Other technology companies introduced new solutions to meet up the buyers’ demand. For instance, the ride-hailing company Grab introduced a new service named “Grab assistant”. It connects customers with a nearby driver who will shop for them at convenient stores, markets, supermarket and pharmacies, then deliver in about one hour.
“I have so many choices these days in terms of online purchases. I can buy everything I need from home,” Hoa said pleasantly.
Due to the enjoyable experiences, Vietnamese people now find shopping online a more regular practice, or even a hobby.
“It’s very convenient, time-saving and relaxing,” Hoa said, adding that she can also save costs given many promotion campaigns available for online purchases.
In response to a survey by the Business Association of High Quality Vietnamese Goods, 98 percent of the Vietnamese people who had purchased goods online during the outbreak said that they will continue to shop online in the time to come.
Passionate about cooking, Thu is now very happy that she can find almost all types of kitchen utensils online.
“I used to have to visit many physical stores to look for just one item. It’s too convenient now that I can order them home,” she replied excitedly, asserting that though social distancing has stopped, she will still keep shopping online as a hobby.
COVID-19 is not only a “test” but also a great driving force for e-commerce activities to bloom this year, local experts said. Citing statistics from e-commerce platforms, Nguyen Ngoc Dung, deputy chairman of Vietnam E-Commerce Association (VECOM), said that the number of new online shoppers surged some 40 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dung expected that the market size will expand to 13-15 billion U.S. dollars this year.
Businesses are optimistic about new opportunities brought by a larger shopping online community who are more confident in the services. Most of them managed to maintain their workforce during the difficult period and will most likely increase their staff in the second half of 2020, read a recent survey by VECOM.
In the 2016-2020 period, Vietnam’s e-commerce market posted positive growth of up to 30 percent annually, according to the country’s Ministry of Industry and Trade. Vietnam is striving to have 55 percent of its population shopping online with an e-commerce revenue in the business-to-customer (B2C) sector reaching 35 billion U.S. dollars by 2025, according to a master plan approved earlier this year. Enditem