Online shopping surges on Vietnam social distancing campaign

By Hong Chau, Vien Thong   April 5, 2020 | 12:46 am PT
Online shopping surges on Vietnam social distancing campaign
A BeGroup delivery workers waits for receiving goods at a Saigon store to deliver them to his customer. Photo by VnExpress/Vien Thong.
Amid the 15-day nationwide social distancing campaign, people in Vietnam are increasingly resorting to online shopping and home delivery.

While cleaning her house, Thanh of HCMC’s Thu Duc District hears the doorbell and runs down quickly to see a supermarket delivery employee waiting for her. She was surprised since she had ordered online just half an hour ago.

She used to go to the supermarket to buy daily necessities when returning home from work.

She said: "Now I work from home, and quite busy and afraid of going to crowded places for fear of Covid-19. So I choose to shop from supermarkets online."

Thanh is not the only customer to switch to online grocery shopping through apps launched by supermarkets or ride-hailing firms since people are required to limit going out and keep a minimum distance of two meters from each other in public places.

In fact online grocery shopping is booming. 

A spokesperson for BigC supermarket chain said its stores in the south have reported 3,000 orders in March, up from 1,000 the previous month. 

In the north, the average order value this week is up 80-120 percent compared to the past.

Hung, a  delivery worker at a BigC supermarket in HCMC’s Binh Tan District said in the past few days the number of deliveries has increased by two to three times.

"Some days I have to eat lunch quickly and then deliver right away so that customers do not have to wait long."

Saigon Co.op has received over 20,000 orders though its online shopping service only began a fortnight ago, more than 50 percent through messaging apps like Zalo and Viber.

South Korean retailer Lotte Mart’s e-commerce site SpeedL and supermarket chain VinMart also reported increasing numbers of orders, with vegetables, fruits, rice, noodles, cooking oil, bottled water, and toilet paper being the most in demand.

Ride-hailing firms have caught up with the trend, launching new services that enable people to buy food and groceries without leaving home.

Ride-hailing service Be Group gets 15,000 orders every day for buying goods, up 200 percent from late January.

Tai, a Be Group delivery worker said during peak days he gets 15-20 orders for buying from supermarkets, with many people ordering dried foods, vegetables and fruits.

Grab users can now easily buy a wide assortment of foodstuffs from its partner convenience stores, retail stores and supermarkets.

A recent survey by Nielsen Vietnam and Infocus Mekong Mobile Panel found that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a strong impact on Vietnamese consumer trends. People have reduced the frequency of their visits to supermarkets and grocery stores by 50 percent and to traditional and fresh food markets by more than 60 percent, it found.

The country began a 15-day social distancing campaign to contain the pandemic last Wednesday, with the government saying it is a critical period, and banning gatherings of more than two people and telling people not to leave their homes.

The country has seen 240 Covid-19 casesso far, none of them fatal.

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