Rise of online services in pandemic times

Rise of online services in pandemic times


The health emergency we are experiencing has broken a cycle of economic growth, not only in Portugal, but also worldwide. Globally, we are witnessing record falls in the gross domestic product (GDP) of many countries, economic stimulus packages and family protection measures. Even so, the evolution of the economy remains unknown and the employment of millions of workers remains at risk.

In view of this situation of global consequences, some business sectors have reinvented themselves to survive the pandemic. Others have strengthened themselves and even new business models based on online consumption have emerged which, in some cases, skyrocketed with confinement.

Throughout this article we will look back and analyze four business areas where online services have skyrocketed.

Food at home

Home deliveries are, unsurprisingly, a type of business that has benefited from social detachment and confinement. Before the pandemic, there were already several successful companies in this business area, but the number of restaurants with delivery service increased considerably during the state of emergency – an increase of more than 50% in many regions.

In the case of restoration, it is not possible (and it is probably incorrect) to say that the volume of revenue has increased since the appearance of the coronavirus. However, the websites that add several restaurants that offer home delivery service have seen their partners increase considerably. Restaurants benefit from the structure and online presence of aggregators, and these, in turn, profit from their structure by accommodating more partners. There are several aggregators with partners that deliver in the southern region of the country.

Online pharmacies

Pharmacies are, by nature, a meeting point for recovering patients. Faced with an unprecedented public health crisis, pharmacies are a place susceptible to the spread of the virus, particularly by patients who may have been infected in a hospital or health center, despite all the security measures implemented. Considering also that the elderly, a risk group, are regular customers of pharmacies, the delivery of drugs at home has become unavoidable.

The industry's reaction was immediate and many pharmacies decided to implement their home delivery services. The National Pharmacy Association (ANF) signed a protocol with CTT with a view to sending medicines at home, thus creating a national distribution network. Medicines can be ordered online through the CTT website or from Portuguese pharmacies.

Although online media are hugely successful in younger age groups, they are still not the ideal tool for older generations. For this reason, the ANF launched in March the 'Linha SAFE 1400', which allowed any resident of Portugal to order a medicine through a (free) call to the number 1400. Chronic patients or those with compromised immunity can receive medicines at home, while the rest must schedule the collection at the pharmacy.

Online dating

Although confinement has physically pushed people away, it may have contributed to bringing them together virtually. The use of digital tools to contact our family and friends has become frequent and has spread to different generations. This period of social detachment was particularly complicated for singles who are still looking for their better half. Although extremely creative and absolutely romantic situations have been made public, not all singles have been so lucky.

Once again, the internet saved the day. Online dating websites were seen by many singles as a way to find a partner to chat and, who knows, to get to know better after confinement. According to lovino.pt, an aggregator of online dating sites, the online dating market recorded an average growth of 25% in the number of users.

Services of streaming

The coronavirus completely changed the routines of the Portuguese (and not only). Before the pandemic, most families only had a couple of hours free at the end of the day. And overnight, families were forced to stay in their homes twenty-four hours a day. Now, if there was almost no free time before the pandemic, during the confinement there was an excess of free time. Faced with this change, people took this opportunity to dedicate time to the house, to the children and to update their series.

As a consequence, information services streaming saw their user bases and revenue soar. Netflix, one of the largest operators in the market, achieved a profit of 632 million euros between March and June, an increase of 166% over the same period last year. During the same period, the company has 10.1 million new customers worldwide and an appreciation in the stock market of over 250%.

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