Global trade insights during the COVID-19 pandemic

Recapping the global effects of the COVID-19 outbreak

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Kingdom of the Netherlands

Dutch household spending and consumer behaviors in wake of COVID-19 pandemic 

A series of lockdown measures imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have reshaped the behaviors of Dutch consumers, who have limited their spending on premium products. This trend is likely to continue worldwide long after the pandemic has ended. Here are some of the forecasted trends. More countries will focus more on their domestic supply chain, diversify manufacturing sources to mitigate production risk, and stop relying on anyone country for exports. The public health sector also will see a major structural reform, to create more universal and equitable health care. Moreover, we are moving towards a fully digitized society, which will see, among other things, cash payments being replaced by e-wallets. All these developments present an opportunity for Thai businesses to reach buyers worldwide. Therefore, they should prepare themselves for global trade that is becoming ever more digitized and tap into e-commerce which is fast becoming the predominant sales channel.  
– Thai Trade Center, The Hague

People’s Republic of China

Taobao introduces four simulation games to drive sales 

The e-commerce market in China is fiercely competitive. While it boasts the largest number of online shoppers in the world, it is also home to numerous e-commerce platforms and online retailers, causing them to constantly come up with innovation to appeal to customers. This is especially true during the COVID-19 outbreak. Taobao, a major online shopping website, is a case in point. It has adopted several measures to help retailers on its platforms and encouraged them to use live streaming. In February, the number of stores using Taobao Live for the first time increased by 719% compared to the previous month. Recently, it has launched simulation games and invited customers to play to win prizes. This is a new strategy worth keeping an eye on. In particular, Thai businesses should be closely following the latest marketing trends and sales strategies to gain new insights, which they can then adapt and use to boost sales of their products. 
-Thai Trade Center, Guangzhou

Bangladesh

COVID-19 and implications on e-commerce in Bangladesh

There is no denying the fact that e-commerce is gaining increasing popularity and playing a bigger role in everyday life during the coronavirus outbreak. Bangladesh is no exception, although the transition to the online market is not without challenges. One of the major issues is the lack of government funding for delivery men, who are subject to close scrutiny by the authorities at various points of goods transit, leading to delay in delivery. Another problem is shortage of products due to disruptions in the supply chain. Moreover, suppliers have been unable to ensure uninterrupted deliveries due to lockdown restrictions and customs clearance at ports of entry. Nevertheless, there exists an opportunity for Thai businesses to gain market share as products remain unevenly distributed to consumers in Bangladesh. Thai entrepreneurs should study market conditions, challenges, and strategies to reach out to these consumers. This is something worth looking into in the long run, i.e. after the pandemic has ended. 
– Thai Trade Center, Dhaka

Republic of the Philippines 

Consumer watch: what do Filipino consumers delay buying in the time of coronavirus? 

The COVID-19 outbreak has forced entrepreneurs in all sectors to adjust their strategies to reach customers digitally. This is because lockdown restrictions mean the majority of people have had to stay at home and/or work from home to prevent the spread of the disease, prompting them to rely predominantly on online communications and e-commerce. Sales of necessary commodities have been more or less unimpacted by this, and some products have even been selling faster. It remains challenging, however, to drive sales of luxury items or high-involvement products at this time, as consumers delay spending on these goods until the situation improves. That said, Thai entrepreneurs need to maintain relationships with their long-term trading partners or customers. They also need to adjust themselves and their business strategies to align with the new normal, so that their brands will be among the first in mind when consumers are ready again to buy these products. This could also be a chance for Thai businesses to obtain new customers in the future. 
– Thai Trade Center, Manila

Swiss Confederation 

Coronavirus transforms consumer behavior in Switzerland

A lockdown imposed in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19 has altered the behavior of Swiss consumers, who have opted to use e-banking instead of cash payments and ATMs. In terms of general consumption, PostFinance comments in its consumer analysis report that Swiss people may go back to their old behaviors after the pandemic has subsided, although they will become much more familiar with e-commerce and online transactions. This is why Thai businesses need to be able to respond to this new trend, by improving their credibility and building their own online platform as the main sales channel for their future commercial success. 
– Thai Trade Center, Frankfurt

The United States of America

Changing consumer behavior after COVID-19 pandemic 

The new boundaries that come with the “New Normal” being implemented when various states are easing lockdown restrictions and allowing businesses to resume operations have prompted American consumers to change their behaviors and adopt new habits. Consumers have become more cautious and seek to minimize risk when they can, especially Gen-Z and millennials who have significantly turned to e-commerce and digital content. In addition, the shortage of certain commodities has forced consumers to look for substitutes. This represents an excellent opportunity for Thai manufacturers to introduce products into the US market, particularly those catering to the demands of Gen-Z, as it is a large consumer group open to trying new brands. Thai businesses should seize this opportunity to invest and adopt a proactive marketing strategy to tap into this target group and eventually expand to others. 
– Thai Trade Center, New York

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