E-commerce companies are stepping up operations to meet growing demand for their services as Omicron workload explodes.
The third wave of the pandemic has accelerated the shift to e-commerce as consumers rush indoors and turn to online sellers for their needs.
Industry insiders say more consumers are expected to shop online at higher frequency following Omicron’s rapid rate of spread.
E-commerce companies are focusing on supply, managing logistics and even hiring more delivery staff to meet a growing wave of orders.
According to reports, Omicron, a highly contagious variant of SARS-COV-2, is responsible for 88% of coronavirus infections in Nepal.
Covid-19 cases in Nepal saw an exponential increase in January.
On Sunday, Nepal recorded 10,319 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of active cases to 82,550, according to the health ministry.
“It’s been about a week since the online demand for goods has increased by about 20% following an increase in the number of cases of Omicron,” said Surakchya Adhikari, chief operating officer and co-founder of the supermarket in Thulo.com line.
“While health experts say the infection rate will peak in early February, we expect demand to increase,” Adhikari said.
E-commerce entrepreneurs hope that this time there will be no hassle from the government side in delivering goods like during the first and second lockdowns.
Nischal Niroula, co-founder of Doormeet.com, said that over the past 15 days online demand for goods has increased by 25%.
“The government has made it clear that vehicles carrying essential goods can ignore the odd and even license plate rule,” Adhikari said.
But Niroula suspects there will be delivery issues with the government implementing the even-odd rule. “There will be logistical issues when the even-odd rule is implemented,” he said.
Sagar Dev Bhatta, founder of Merokirana.com, said consumer buying behavior has started to change with the arrival of the Omicron variant. “Sales started to increase,” he said.
E-commerce sees an increase in demand for fast-moving consumer goods and grocery items, followed by health and wellness-related goods and consumer electronics.
“The online demand for face masks and sanitizers has increased over the past few days,” Adhikari said, adding that demand for packaged foods such as cookies, wafers and shelf-stable snacks had increased significantly in just a few days. of time. “It looks like people are stocking up on these products and the demand is going to increase in the next few days,” she said.
Bhatta said online demand for rapid antigen test kits has also increased in recent times.
Online store Doormeet.com is seeing a surge in demand for books and groceries. “Customers who used to place orders for 1 kg of food items are now ordering 5 kg of food, and our delivery volume has ballooned,” Niroula said.
“The demand for rice, lentils and pulses, spices, salt and sugar has increased. It seems like people are stocking up on groceries as the volume of orders has increased,” Niroula said.
E-commerce entrepreneurs say they have learned from the Covid-19 pandemic that e-commerce is safe and reliable for home delivery of goods while maintaining social distancing.
Customers trust e-commerce to safely deliver all their goods as per their respective needs. E-commerce entrepreneurs say they are following security measures and government guidelines when dealing with vendors to serve their customers during these unprecedented times.
Seeing the pandemic situation worsening day by day, e-commerce platforms have streamlined their business strategy and increased their supply chain and logistics to cope with the surge in demand.
“We plan to stock goods that receive a large number of online orders and coordinate with suppliers,” Adhikari said. In terms of logistics, the government has said it will not impose any restrictions on vehicles carrying essential goods and Thulo.com plans to add delivery vans amid growing demand.
As the infection is spreading at a rapid rate, there is a high chance that delivery staff or other company personnel will be infected, so e-commerce companies plan to hire temporary employees so that administration and delivery run smoothly.
“We plan to hire additional people so that the daily work is not disrupted,” Adhikari said.
“We follow security protocols when delivering goods, and we encourage digital payment by providing programs and offers,” Adhikari said.
Suspecting a possible lockdown amid Omicron’s growing workload, Doormeet.com has also started to prepare in terms of sourcing and logistics to ensure the supply of essential goods runs smoothly.
“We plan to temporarily hire additional delivery staff and also manage things so that administrative staff can work from home,” Niroula said.
Doormeet.com has also started stocking goods in its warehouse to meet demand.
“We do not plan to cut salaries or lay off our staff even if a lockdown is imposed,” Niroula said.
Bhatta, who is also the president of the E-Business Association of Nepal, said district leaders seem positive about the operation of e-commerce, citing recent discussions with them.
“We have strictly followed health security protocols and promoted digital payments, so we hope there is less risk of our staff being exposed to the virus,” Bhatta said.