Alibaba and JD.com have launched new initiatives to help fight the spread of the deadly coronavirus including contactless delivery and a global sourcing platform for medical supplies.
As coronavirus infections officially top 30,000 and the death toll rises to over 600, huge parts of China have been shut down with workers in 24 provinces told not to resume work before Monday, while schools are expected to stay shut until mid-February.
This has led to a huge spike in demand for home delivery of fresh groceries, but many are reluctant to interact with anyone from outside, including delivery drivers.
Both Alibaba’s HEMA and JD.com’s Dada grocery arms have now introduced in-app features for contactless delivery, allowing a delivery driver to leave goods in a convenient spot without ever having to come into contact with the customer.
JD.com’s automated warehouses are also working 24/7 to increase the amount of orders fulfilled with as little human interaction as possible, seeing average orders process jump from 600,000 to 1 million since mid-January.
Meanwhile Alibaba has launched a special business-to-business “information bridge” called the Alibaba Global Direct Sourcing Platform to match medical suppliers and their products with struggling hospitals and authorities.
“Alibaba will post the specifications of needed medical supplies, including types, models and quantities of products, based on information collected from hospitals and local authorities,” a company statement read.
“Suppliers can provide information about the products they can offer. Once the supplier is verified and the goods (are) certified as an acceptable match, Alibaba will begin the procurement process.
“Our goal is to connect the global supply chain with those in need of supplies in a more expedited and efficient way”.
It will also utilise the RMB1 billion (£110.4 billion) fund set up last month for purchases, and route goods to hospitals based on their level of urgency.