2020 couldn’t get any worse! We all know how COVID-19 has wreaked havoc worldwide in just a few months. Not just the physical and social effects, but the global pandemic has brought in severe financial crisis. Major economies have lost almost 2.4% of the value of their GDPs, while 7.5 million small businesses are at a risk of permanent shut down. But every coin has a flip side and even the worst of situations could be of a greater advantage at some point of time!
COVID-19 has, surprisingly, brought in ample opportunities for certain sectors. Health and eCommerce sector has seen a remarkable boom in the past few months and is promised to grow more. But there are several other sectors that have taken the advantage of the pandemic and should be considered if planning for a startup. Here are 5 marketplace sectors worth investing in during COVID-19:
This is almost a no-brainer and is pretty evident that COVID-19 has brought in a sudden surge in the online retail sector. When most physical retail stores had to be shut down due to worldwide lockdowns, online retail marketplaces became saviors to people looking for their daily necessities. The success of online retail marketplaces during the outbreak could be determined by retail-giant Amazon’s demand surge. Amazon.Inc has reported a 26% revenue surge during its Q1. When most of the companies are either “benching” or terminating their employees in this crisis, Amazon decided to hire an additional 75,000 employees to cope up with the surge.
Even when things are getting normal gradually and retail shops are slowly opening up in some places, people would still prefer buying online to avoid the spread of the virus. The convenience of getting the supplies right at home with minimal risk of infection is the biggest reason why online retail will remain at its peak for months to come.
Things to take care of: Apart from the various factors that you should consider before creating your marketplace, shipping is one thing that should be the strongest in your marketplace right now! Timely shipping in the time of crisis would be greatly appreciated and would lead to better customer retention. Also, safety should be of utmost priority in these times. Make sure that your/your vendors’ packaging and shipping units are well sanitized and that the delivery personnels are marked safe.
Food and Grocery Delivery
Similar to online retail, food and grocery delivery have also seen an all-time high for the past few months. People responded to the declaration of the global pandemic by panic buying and over-stocking. The unavailability of the goods in the local markets drew them to online groceries. According to a source, e-Grocery platforms have recorded a surge in daily users by almost 40,000 during this period! The fear of getting exposed to the virus is also making people reluctant to go out for grocery shopping. An online poll has revealed that most people are now likely to buy their groceries online even after the pandemic subsides.
Food delivery has also seen a good spike during COVID-19. With dining out comes the question of hygiene, hindering a lot of people from eating outside. Therefore, online food ordering and home deliveries are successfully catering to the culinary urges.
According to Statista as on March 18, 2020, 60% of 18-24 year olds have already increased their frequency of using online food delivery services. Uber Eats has seen a 10x increase in restaurants’ self sign-ups. Therefore, this is a good time to start up an online grocery or food delivery marketplace.
Things to take care of: Along with fresh supplies, a stable delivery management is of extreme importance. A lot of food and grocery delivery services failed to meet demand due to the lack of human resources. So, make sure you have a robust team of delivery agents. Maximize efficiency in your delivery providers and the delivery vehicles employed.
Virtual learning has been rising up for quite some time now. However, COVID-19 has kicked in momentum in remote learning. Schools and other educational institutions have been temporarily shut down affecting around 1.2 billion learners around the world. Online learning has helped students cope up with this crisis and continue with their learning. Byju’s, an India-based e-learning platform, has seen an increase of 200% in student enrollment in its portal, making it the current highest valued ed-tech company in the world. The number of learners of Unacademy has also tripled since the outbreak.
According to the E-Learning Market – Global Outlook and Forecast 2020-2025 report, the e-learning market is expected to display a significant growth in the next five years. With technology interfering in almost all sectors of life, e-learning will not just flourish during these tough times but also has the potential of being one of the most successful business models in the long run. Moreover, you can tie up with various schools and institutions, as Pearson does, to facilitate teaching via web-conferencing, creating a virtual classroom.
Things to take care of: Skilled educators and great content is the key to a successful online learning platform. Make sure that your users don’t come to an empty platform. One of the biggest challenges during this time would be a stable internet access to all. Make your content downloadable so that the users can learn at their own pace.
Virtual healthcare service has been gradually developing over the past few years, but wasn’t much popular. People preferred going the traditional way of visiting the doctor for their ailments. According to a survey before the pandemic, almost 82% of people in the US alone did not use telehealth services. But COVID-19 has pushed the telehealth services to its greatest potential till now. With hospitals and medical centres being overwhelmed with Covid patients, people are now relying on remote healthcare.
Online healthcare services provide the convenience of digitally consulting medical professionals of various specializations right at home, often for much lesser fees. People are now being able to share their problems and seek remedies from medical professionals via call or video conferencing through these services. Amwell, an online healthcare service, has seen a whopping 158% increase in the usage of its app in the US since January 2020. Online consultation appointment via Plushcare, another telehealth service, is up by almost 70%. With social distancing becoming the new norm, The Economist has stated that the growth of this segment will augment to a great height in the coming 2 years.
Things to take care of: People are in panic-mode right now and would be primarily seeking medical assistance for COVID-19. Therefore, proper medical assistance following the WHO guidelines should be provided. Incorrect diagnosis or improper advice could cost you heavily and could also be punishable in some cases. Follow the health department’s guidelines of your country/state to create any medical content. Make sure to check the medical qualification of the consulting health professionals joining your healthcare website/app.
Fitness and Wellness
Worldwide quarantine has deeply affected the physical and mental fitness of people of almost all age groups. Gyms, yoga centres, and even jogging parks have closed their doors; office-goers are working from their home; children are staying inside resulting in much lesser physical activities. Such inactivity is taking a toll on our physical health. Public health scientists in the US have raised concerns that lockdown measures could increase childhood obesity. According to a survey published in Clinical Obesity, nearly 56% of people admitted to have significantly reduced their intensity of workout since quarantine in the US. Such times of crisis have also brought in severe mental stress. The same survey has revealed that more than 72% of people are suffering from anxiety and 83% said that they have become more depressed.
Remote fitness and wellness services can help people cope up with inactiveness digitally. Online gym or yoga sessions through videos, virtual dance classes and tele-consultation with fitness trainers and nutritionists has become the new fitness trend fighting the effects of lockdown. Tone and Sculpt, an online nutrition and workout service app, has seen a growth of 88% since April. Moreover, global fitness apps are estimated to grow at a CAGR of 31.25% during 2019-2026. Apps providing one-to-one consultation with psychologists or mental health experts have helped people grappling with the COVID stress. With urban lifestyles becoming unhealthy day by day, these apps are going to be our next fitness buddies.
Things to take care of: Post-COVID wellness is a hot topic now – it’s all about imparting physical and mental wellness advice to patients who have just recovered or are recovering from COVID-19. But again, make sure to enroll skilled fitness trainers and wellness experts who would conduct their workout or consultation following the WHO guidelines.
Necessity is the mother of inventions. Although the global pandemic has become a major cause of downfall for many businesses, there are still plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs. The secret to successful marketplaces is their ability to cater to the needs of the time. Look around and see what people need and you’ll find an idea that will make you prosper even in these tough times! So, good luck and get ready to start up your own marketplace!