Online orders spike amidst COVID-19

Rupkatha Bhowmick

During a global pandemic like COVID-19, no one is really a winner! However, some segments within retail are seeing a surge – e-commerce or online retail is a prime example.

This week, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) in the UAE has confirmed that the list of applications to launch online stores in the country had reached 51, as reported by the Emirates News Agency (WAM). This phenomenon comes amidst partial lockdown and social distancing directives announced by the government in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.

From shopping centres to supermarkets, from fashion and food to consumer electronics, every sector is realising the significance of having an online presence. Here are some examples:

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, UAE-based retailer Jumbo Electronics has seen almost doubling of online orders over the past few weeks, as footfall at its brick-and-mortar stores declined. One of the big reasons for growth in Jumbo’s online sales is a 24-hour delivery timeline. “Our sister company Jumbo Logistics manages our deliveries, and so far, we have not had any defaults on our commitment,” stresses Pankaj Kumar, head of omnichannel retail at Jumbo Group.

Hypermarket and supermarket chain Carrefour, operated by Majid Al Futtaim Retail in the MENA region, has seen significant rise – reportedly 300% year-on-year[1] – in online orders. So much so that the company has issued a statement on its website: “We have received an extraordinary increase in orders during these tough times. Despite our best efforts, we are unable to process all orders within the committed delivery time. As a temporary solution, we reduced the amount of delivery slots for new orders till all pending orders are fulfilled. You may have to schedule your next order in advance and we apologise for this. Our stores remain open with strict hygiene measures to safely support your needs.”

Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai has collaborated with companies having online presence – such as consumer cooperative, Union Coop – to deliver orders to consumers through Dubai Taxi fleet and franchised taxis[2].

Beyond the UAE, Danube Online and the Danube App have seen average daily sales up over 200% and average order value up 50% in approximately the last 10 days or so, compared to the same figures in February 2020. Danube Online is the e-commerce arm of supermarket and hypermarket chain owned and operated by the Bindawood Group of Companies in Saudi Arabia. “We have also seen a big move in our app installations, which is nearly 400% higher compared to February,” shares Majed M. Al Tahan, co-founder & managing director, Danube Online.

In summation, the need of the hour is ‘real’ digital transformation, because omnichannel isn’t an option anymore and leveraging technology isn’t a choice.

[1] Arabian Business

[2] Emirates News Agency

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