Businesses Emerging In China During COVID-19
01/06/2020 — by Owen Manningham
The COVID-19 outbreak has dealt a huge economic blow to China (among other places). The country’s supply chains are collapsing, many manufacturing firms have closed down, there is minimal human interaction, and consumer behaviour has changed in unprecedented ways. However, as frequently happens in crises, a plethora of new business ideas and opportunities have been born out of coronavirus. Online-to-offline commerce (O2O) is on the rise, the demand for 5G has increased, and the need for online education has skyrocketed.
New shopping preferences have necessitated mass changes in China’s labour market. Employers need to hire locals with extraordinary skills and talents and workers capable of withstanding the harsh realities of the ongoing lockdown and social distancing. Note that these talents are needed within days, not weeks, if the companies are to continue providing their services relatively seamlessly. Foreign companies cannot pull this off without the help of an international PEO (Professional Employer Organisation). That is why PEOs are playing a key role in shaping current employment trends in China.
With proper workforce management strategies, the following businesses are thriving across China:
1. Online entertainment
As a result of China being under lockdown, as with many other countries, event venues and cinemas remain closed. The consequence of this is almost 600 million short online videos being recorded, shared on social media, and streamed live on different video streaming sites. More and more artists are performing virtually and online movie premieres are quickly becoming a trend.
2. Grocery delivery apps
Chinese consumers are wary of person-to-person COVID-19 infections. As a result, they are reluctant to go to offline grocery stores. Online grocery shopping is picking up pace fast and with it, downloads for grocery delivery apps have skyrocketed. Traders who were reluctant to take their grocery stores online are now struggling for survival.
3. Online games and live webcast
With more people staying indoors now, the demand for online games and live webcasts has increased by over 500%. The online gaming industry in China is now a billion-dollar industry, up from about $218 million.
4. Increased demand for cloud service
Remote working was not very popular in China before COVID-19 turned everything upside down. Most Chinese companies are setting up new remote teams for the first time, which explains the upsurge in demand for cloud service.
Educational institutions across China have now shifted to online learning. That has precipitated a sudden upsurge in online content demands within the country’s education industry. The download rate of educational apps has increased by nearly 300% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the last quarter of 2019. It is safe to say that the future of education is e-learning, and it has come sooner than initially projected. App developers must move with speed to leverage this new-found market.
Healthcare professionals are now offering their services through digital platforms. While this has been motivated by the need for self-isolation, branded online healthcare apps are likely to stay beyond the COVID-19. Remote healthcare will only continue to advance further with time.
7.Online food services
The restaurant industry was hit hard by the government’s ban against eating in public places. Many food businesses have since created ways to limit human interaction, such as online food services. Customers are placing their orders online and relying on delivery to transport the food safely and affordably using bicycles. Another solution that has become popular is the “contactless” self-serve food cabinets that look like train station lockers. Customers are ordering food via mobile apps, the food is prepared and placed in a cabinet. The customer then picks it up from the cabinet without interacting with other humans.
8.Online fitness & wellness
With offline gyms banned, Chinese fitness enthusiasts are increasingly embracing digital workout programs. These programs have been helping people to exercise from home for a long time now, but their demand has never been as high as it is now. Online training apps, yoga apps, and meditation app developers are in for a windfall over the coming months.
China is still grappling to find solutions to the many challenges that COVID-19 spread is presenting every day. Nobody can predict for sure what will happen in the future. What is apparent, however, is that the social interactions will never be quite the same again, even after COVID-19 is contained. Business leaders must start figuring out ways of surviving in a more “contactless” economy.
This article does not constitute legal advice.
The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.