Amidst the fifth wave of the pandemic, local physical retailers have been heavily impacted by social distancing measures, as more consumers shift to online shopping. Leading online classifieds group Carousell recently revealed that their number of weekly active users in the Hong Kong market has held steady throughout January and February 2022, with over 20% year-on-year growth. The growth is a continuation of the 2021 year-end shopping season, reflecting steady demand for online shopping and greater choice of both C2C and retail merchants.
With a wide user base, Carousell has focused on supporting Small-to-Medium Businesses (SMBs) in their digitalisation journey and reaching out to more customers. Since the launch of CarouBiz (Carousell for Business) in 2020 when the pandemic started, CarouBiz has recruited a variety of merchants and service providers in Hong Kong, helping businesses broaden their customer reach and boost profit with an array of easy-to-use premium seller tools such as Bumps, Spotlights, custom collections, auto reply and video listings.
Carousell recently conducted a survey among local merchants to identify the top challenges they faced during Hong Kong’s fifth wave of COVID-19. The findings revealed that 75% of merchants have been affected, and their top challenges encountered are reduced customers (73%), reduced income (43%), and logistics issues (42%). The top three worries of merchants are uncertainty on how to adapt to social distancing measures (67%), business continuity (64%), and logistics issues (62%).
Affected by low footfall and rising uncertainty, 59% of surveyed merchants shared that they had started to move more of their business online to reduce the impact, and 10% took out loans or used credit for more cash flow. Another 10% shared that they had to stop operations due to the recent measures, while 14% shared they will pivot to another type of business or side income stream in the interim.
Going digital is key to surviving the pandemic
To leverage the support ecosystem and assist SMBs in their business continuity planning in this critical time, Carousell has launched a special HKD968 CarouBiz SMB Pandemic Relief Package. For a limited time, new CarouBiz merchants can receive up to 40,000 Carousell coins and a CarouBiz subscription under the Relief Package, which is worth a total value of HKD2,000.
The survey also revealed that 69% of local merchants stated that having CarouBiz allowed them to continue business operations despite social distancing restrictions, and 40% shared that the affordable tools helped lower operational costs. From the customer perspective, users can safely shop from the comfort of home to find necessities easily and affordably.