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Swine flu and ecommerce

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Tuesday April 28, 2009 )

The possible swine flu pandemic may bring increased business for some online merchants.

Maybe it’s just the instant nature of news these days, but I could swear the world is going to hell in a handcart this last decade. Iraq, 9/11, Afghanistan, Darfur, tsunami, global financial crisis, etc, etc, etc – and now; swine flu. As morbid as it seems, there may be a bright side for some online business owners.

The streets of Mexico City are like and ghost town I was just reading an article on CNN about the effect that a swine flu pandemic could have on an already battered global economy.

According to the article, if it’s anything like the 1918 “Spanish” flu, it would cost the world economy $3.1 trillion and drop the world’s gross domestic product by 4.8 percent in the first year of infection.

Aside from the impact of lost productivity, people will start avoiding contact with large groups; activities such as travel, going to restaurants and non-essential shopping. If this should become a pandemic, it may be the final nail in the coffin of businesses already struggling.

What the CNN article doesn’t say but I suspect will be the case, is that people will still want to buy stuff and unlike in pandemics in the past, we now have the Internet and online shopping. Online shopping allows people to have minimal contact with others – they’ll just have to watch out for delivery guys with watering eyes and the snuffles or make a dash for the post office in off peak times.

The more the years go on, the more I’m glad that I chose an online career instead of pursuing a bricks and mortar based business. Ecommerce just seems so much more resilient to these upheavals. The other positive aspect of working online for a living in this scenario means less face to face contact with others and less chance of infection.

Having said that, I’ll probably be one of the first in Australia to come down with the darned illness.

By the way, if you’re into eBay, you could probably make a killing on surgical masks and anti-viral hand washes at present.

However, as much as I enjoy a good opportunity and anything that leads more people to shop online, lets hope this swine flu fizzles out soon. Having the flu is terrible at the best of times; but to die of it is just tragic.


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