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Online shopping: no boom in first quarter as expected

Three out of four of the largest e-commerce sites saw the numbers of visits decreasing in Q1, a time when experts predicted would see a boom as the COVID-19 epidemic reached its peak.

Business activities shrank, many offline shops closed doors during the social distancing period, and people hesitated to go shopping for fear for coronavirus. However, these factors could not help e-commerce take off.

 

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The Q1 e-commerce map released by iPrice and SimilarWeb showed that the number of web visits to three out of four largest marketplaces in Vietnam decreased in Q1.

Tiki had 23.99 million visits each month, a slight decrease of 500,000 compared with Q4 2019. Lazada Vietnam and Sendo also reported decreases in the number of visits, by 7.3 million and 9.6 million, respectively.

Shopee Vietnam was the only site of the ‘big four’ reporting an increase in visits, and it continues to lead the market with 43.16 million visits each month. This is the third consecutive quarter Shopee saw growth in number of visits.

Tiki in April also ran a sale promotion program worth VND39 billion under which it delivered goods free of charge in Hanoi and HCM City for bills with certain minimum value.

Tiki in April also ran a sale promotion program worth VND39 billion under which it delivered goods free of charge in Hanoi and HCM City for bills with certain minimum value.


The number of web visits on the sites, except Shopee, decreased by 9 percent on average in Q1 2020.

According to iPrice Group, this is partially because marketplaces restricted ads and sale promotion activities during the period. Instead, they intensified livestream and games on apps and social networks. People spent more time at home and in front of computer screens.

Prior to that, when the epidemic escalated, Nguyen Ngoc Dung, deputy chair of the Vietnam E-commerce Association (Vecom) predicted that online business would bear effects because of weak purchasing power, and that only the sale of essential goods had opportunity to grow.

Vietnam’s e-commerce in Q1 saw hot growth for non-key products. iPrice Group’s data showed that demand for face masks and hand washing liquid increased by 610 percent and 680 percent, respectively, in February compared with January.

In March, when people stayed home more, the hot growth was reported for grocery sales. The web visits to Bach Hoa Xanh, surged by 49 percent compared with Q4 2019.

However, these products did not make big contribution to market sales. Of 50 e-commerce sites in Vietnam, only two specialize in groceries, namely Bach Hoa Xanh and Big C, much lower than the 10 sites specializing in mobile products and 7 sites specializing in fashion products.

Thanh Mai 

 

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