Deliveries from China delayed

Deliveries from China delayed

Browsing products on Lazada's website. Lazada says orders placed after Jan 20 are expected to incur processing and shipping delays. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Browsing products on Lazada's website. Lazada says orders placed after Jan 20 are expected to incur processing and shipping delays. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Local e-commerce and logistics operators have confirmed that the coronavirus outbreak has hampered parcel deliveries from China, while working to ensure access and rein in the prices of disease-prevention accessories such as face masks and hand sanitiser.

Suchaya Paleewong, marketing manager of Shopee Thailand, the local operating unit of the Singapore-based e-commerce site under Sea Group, said Shopee users can expect a delay in shipments from China due to the recent development of the coronavirus outbreak.

"Shopee are taking stringent measures to ensure that our staff and warehouses in China are adequately protected from the virus," Ms Suchaya said.

Shopee transit warehouses in China are disinfected daily and the body temperature of all employees is being checked before they enter the warehouse.

Lazada Thailand, the e-commerce arm under China-based Alibaba, said orders placed after Jan 20 are expected to have processing and shipping delays, partly driven by the spread of coronavirus.

"Customers are entitled to decide whether to cancel orders after communicating with sellers," Lazada said in a release.

Lazada said it has been closely monitoring the situation and working with partners to help sellers.

"We are exercising all efforts to debunk myths and better match demand with supply by leveraging our technology and logistics capabilities within Lazada and the Alibaba economy," the site said.

Lazada said all of its warehouses are disinfected and all staff undergo daily temperature checks, while stringent sanitisation processes will be followed before staff handle packages.

The company said it will work with brands and sellers to ensure that prices for face masks are kept reasonable.

"If any seller persists in inflating the price of the product, Lazada will remove the listing," it said, indicating support for strong measures by the government to prevent price gouging.

Sutthikead Chantarachairoj, chief executive of Shippop, a local logistics aggregator startup, said 500 social commerce merchants are experiencing delays in shipments of products ordered from China.

With a delay of 7-15 days, those with small inventory, particularly PET plastic-related products, will suffer supply shortages.

Mr Sutthikead said he noticed that domestic e-commerce shipment volume in the first 15 days of January soared 14% year-on-year, as people avoided crowded areas and physical shops and opted to shop online instead.

Rvisra Chirathivat, chief marketing officer of JD Central Thailand, another key e-commerce platform provider, concurred that shipments from China have been hit with a delay due to the spread of virus.

"If customers cannot wait, JD Central will fully refund buyers, or if customers are willing to wait, we will update the status of the purchase orders to ensure product delivery and minimise impact," Ms Rvisra said.

Thanawat Malabuppha, chief executive of e-commerce price comparison website Priceza, said orders made through its system dropped 3% from December 2019 to January 2020.

Mr Thanawat, also president of the Thai E-Commerce Association, said he cannot confirm whether the drop was caused by the virus, as it could also have been due to economic stagnation.

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