COVID-19 and e-commerce: our responsibilities and opportunities in a time of crisis
The unfolding crisis is everywhere and dominant on news and social media channels. We don’t mean to unnecessarily add to this burden of communication, but we do want to offer any possibility that we can to help. This has to begin with an understanding: how is this crisis affecting you and how might your professional experience as a digital and e-commerce entrepreneur be relevant at this time?
We read how e-commerce is causing a boom for certain well established platforms: customers at home are relying on deliveries for their essentials and ongoing needs. Echoing the opportunity that Alibaba was able to respond to in the earlier SARS epidemic, e-commerce platforms have the opportunity to grow their business in the short term and cement long term customer loyalty that could, in the longer term, see the sector come out stronger and more entrenched in customers’ habits.
But there is also the responsibility that comes with the seriousness of the moment: how can we ensure that this business is doing no harm? That home deliveries remain a safe way of conducting business – for customer and the delivery staff. Is it right to oblige warehouse employees to work overtime and in conditions that many office workers are no longer allowed? How do we judge which ecommerce business is necessary to support essential activity? How can we contribute to protect vulnerable customers?
These debates are likely to gather volume in the public domain: those platforms which are doing good business may be judged to be profiteering at the expense of customers and their employees. There are likely to be instances of transmission, real or implied, through logistics activities. The public may challenge to what degree eCommerce is valuable or frivolous.
How best can we respond to these challenges and opportunities? What can you do, as a professional engaged in e-commerce, to bring your skills to the service of reducing the impacts of this health, social and economic crisis? How can we help?