The world is in the midst of an economic and cultural fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The complexity of social distancing and the resulting stagnation of world markets has shown a spotlight on the importance of access to digital resources and marketplaces – particularly for American small businesses. In this new light, we should not lose sight of how fortunate we are that these tools and online marketplaces were in place and up to the challenge.
Digital marketplaces are specifically playing a critical role in supporting small businesses during this difficult time. Retailers are facing unprecedented challenges and uncertainty, but those powered by eCommerce and online platforms are finding themselves better prepared to weather the storm. This is thanks in no small part to the strong supply chain and delivery solutions provided by marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, which allow essential goods to be distributed to customers without direct physical contact.
The dire need for these services is evident: Walmart, Kroger, CVS, and Albertsons are hiring warehouse and delivery workers to meet the surging demand for online orders. In addition, while other firms are laying off staff, delivery companies like Instacart and Shipt are hiring new workers to help small businesses continue to sell online. These digitally enabled supply chains allow at-risk customers to prioritize their health and safety while providing small businesses with a much-needed lifeline during the current lockdown.
But now, some groups are citing health concerns as a reason for distribution centers to close.
We can’t afford to let that happen.
Today’s digitally-enabled supply chain is working to balance an overwhelming demand for emergency supplies and household items while prioritizing employee safety. All of which are contributing to small businesses’ survival. Companies are moving quickly to protect employees’ health, including taking workers’ temperatures before all shifts and providing preventative masks. In addition, companies like Amazon are providing paid sick and quarantine leave as well as pay raises for employees working during the pandemic.
With brick and mortar stores temporarily closed and 90% of the country in some sort of stay at home order, digital marketplaces are lifelines for small businesses and consumers alike. Imagine the multiplying effect facility closures would have. Online commerce for small retailers would grind to a halt, manufacturers of every size would be left without a means to find a market, and at-risk customers would be left without access to contact-free products.
Investments in infrastructure and just-in-time delivery by companies like Amazon and eBay are helping our country as a whole to deal with COVID-19. The infrastructure of these companies allows us to get essential goods delivered directly to our doors without putting ourselves and our families at risk. We must keep commerce connected – for the sake of people’s safety, small businesses’ survival, and the economy as a whole.