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Chinese giants rose to the COVID-19 challenge. Will their global peers?


In China, superplatforms such as Alibaba, Meituan, JD, and others launched a number of commendable initiatives to support SMEs during the pandemic. Alibaba’s offline grocery store and online grocery delivery service Hema took on employees of closed restaurants as temporary delivery workers. Meituan, China’s largest online-to-offline service provider and food delivery platform waived all delivery commissions for restaurants in Wuhan. JD, one of the largest B2C e-commerce platforms opened a “logistics expressway” especially for farmers to sell agricultural products. The author, however, notes that elsewhere in the world, platforms seem unwilling to take on this inclusive, collaborative approach pioneered in China. Amazon, for example, is only taking orders for essential items leaving several other small businesses that depend solely on the platform out in the cold. In Africa, Jumia is focused on protecting workers and helping governments with last-mile deliveries for health supplies. The author writes that superplatforms can and should play a bigger role to help SMEs survive.


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