E-Commerce, Trade and the COVID-19 Pandemic



World Trade Organization

B2B and B2C online sales of physical goods have recently experienced a surge of demand in certain products due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, many businesses and consumers responded by stocking up. Medical supplies, including hand sanitizers, disinfectants and surgical facemasks, as well as household essentials such as toilet paper and non-perishable foodstuffs were stockpiled. Businesses were faced with teleworking, and homebound consumers had to communicate and entertain themselves remotely. Many governments have enforced social distancing measures, instituted lockdowns and/or temporarily closed “non-essential” businesses.

The result has been a spike in online purchases of some products, as well as an increased demand for a wide range of digital services, as many consumers resorted to online shopping – either internet- enabled or by telephone. Several brick-and-mortar businesses have therefore shifted resources to e-commerce. The increase in the number of consumers flocking to digital services has spurred both suppliers of these services and telecommunications operators to enhance their network capacity and to offer advantageously priced or free data and service packages.


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