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How Indonesians shop in times of COVID-19

Numbers are showing the increased demand for healthcare products, work-from-home equipment, and groceries.

Source: Pexels.

With more Indonesian cities under partial lockdown and social distancing measures in place, online shopping has become the new normal.

According to an iPrice report on Indonesian online shopping behavior during the pandemic, people are buying more healthcare products and work-from-home equipment. The interest in hand sanitizer, widely recommended to combat the virus, skyrocketed more than 5,000%. As many regular retail stores hiked up the price for this item recently, people rushed to look for bargains on e-commerce platforms.

Other healthcare products such as disinfectants, thermometers, and vitamin supplements also saw a boost in interest of at least 1,000%.

Tokopedia, one of the biggest e-commerce platforms in Indonesia, confirmed the uptick in this segment. “In the health and personal care category, transaction numbers have tripled,” said Tokopedia’s vice president of corporate communications Nuraini Razak in a statement. Compared to the previous months, face mask sales have exploded by 197 times. Disinfectants, tissues, and air purifiers also saw a significant rise.

Interest in non-health products. Picture courtesy of iPrice.

Razak argued that the shift to online creates opportunities for local shops to stay in business. Many store owners, especially the small and micro enterprises, are struggling to survive. Most of them rely on direct sales, and with fewer people leaving their homes, revenues are breaking away. Tokopedia has dropped service fees for new merchants in selected categories, to help with the onboarding.

Interest in selected non-healthcare items was also shooting up. Remote workers and students were increasingly looking for webcams, which saw a 1,572% boost. Nintendo game consoles rose 156%. Surprisingly, bicycles also saw a significant increase of 1,036%.

Tokopedia shopping trend report during COVID-19. Picture courtesy of Tokopedia.

Less surprising, on the other side, is the growth of online grocery shopping, as supermarkets are reducing operating hours and limit purchases of staples such as rice, oil, sugar, and instant noodles.

Tokopedia registered an increase in sales of cow meat, ginger, and dates. The total number of ginger sold on the platform reached 60 tonnes just in March. Indonesians are using the spice for cooking and herbal drinks.

The iPrice report also noted a 78% spike in searches for alcoholic drinks, in line with the global trend. In cities under lockdown such as London, online orders for alcoholic beverages increased significantly as people stocked up their supplies.