05 Re-Emerged online businesses in Sri Lanka due to COVID19 

By Umair Wolid 

These are tough and uncertain times, to say the least — priorities are shifting daily as the health emergency is being dealt with on a global scale. All the while businesses have been forced to act fast in response, but with the COVID19 situation the move has been even faster especially on the online business front. 

Over the last 60 plus days of lockdown we saw major shifts in business practices, some took off from their traditional comfort zones and started creating new businesses as well as restarting some of the business lines which were not given much attention in the past. 

Listed below are some key online businesses which Re-Emerged due to COVID19

01) Online Grocery shopping


Over the last two years many startups tried out the online grocery delivery business, some startups partnered up with SuperMarket chains for sourcing goods and some  worked out as only a delivery partner , nevertheless none of the startup Online Grocery shopping outlets could make an impact in the industry. 

Large Supermarket chains too entered into the Online Grocery shopping buzz couple of years ago, since not much of a focus was given at that time and user traction was insufficient the module did not succeed. 

With COVID19 one of the first Online businesses to boom was Online Grocery shopping. Multiple individuals and companies started their Facebook pages and worked on the Social Commerce module and provided end to end fulfillment for grocery shopping Online. Further the larger and reputed SuperMarket chains too invested in their ECommerce presence and uplifted their delivery chains to give prominence to the overall Online grocery shopping Sector.

One of the largest Sri Lankan SuperMarket chains opened up all their 350 plus branch networks to accommodate online orders and made the process smoother and effective to the users.


02) Online Education / Tuition 

One of the key problems parents with school kids encounter is in fulfilling the tuition journey of their kids. With the education sector becoming highly competitive parents tend to send their children for multiple tuition sessions hence time management and providing transport for tuition classes are some of the key concerns for modern day parents. 

With the COVID19 another key Online Business to emerge was Online tutors , some of the popular Sri Lankan tutors started using the simplest youtube live sessions for their classes in the beginning on the lockdown period and then moved on to ZOOM classes and google classrooms to provide much more comprehensive coverage for their students.

Online Education has made a major mark in the Indian region with popular education apps such as Byju creating a unique set of benefits for tutors as well as students. The module is yet to make an impact on the Sri Lankan market but with the lockdown period’s influence assumptions are that parents would be willing to accept online education / coaching methods in a more proactive way hence as a business module this area of focus would grow. 


03 Online Pharmacy

With the Lockdown imposing another key essential service which was introduced was Online Pharmacies , few online startup brands tried immense to make their mark on the online pharmacy business over the last 18 months but none of the brands were able to exploit the market to its fullest potential. 

Once the lockdown was announced most of the local pharmacies started using their facebook pages, whatsapp communities to provide online prescription based medication and delivery fulfillment creating a new wave of medicine purchasing. 

A Colombo based online pharmacy company which shut their operation a couple of months ago restarted their operation soon after the lockdown understanding the potential of the online pharmacy business within Sri Lanka.   


04 Online Fitness 

One of the booming industries in Sri Lanka over the last two years was the fitness industry, and reports suggest that there are over 1000 gyms providing services in Sri Lanka. With the COVID19 situation one of the places of business immediately needed to be stopped were gyms. But the fitness market moved on aggressively adapting to the situation. 

One must assume that fitness coaching would be one of the hardest to do via online platforms but many reputed gyms broke the myth and started providing online fitness classes using platforms such as ZOOM , Hangouts etc. 

Further we saw some online gym booking apps capitalizing on the situation and started providing online gym class booking sessions providing the users to pick and choose whomever the trainer they like to join with via online platforms. 


05) Online Doctor Channeling 

Over the last 18 months few Tech driven companies invested in building up a Doctor Channeling service via online platforms where the patient consult the doctor via an app and the medication is provided accordingly, some of the early adopters started using this service in patches but with the Corona situation the traction for the Online Doctor channeling services boomed.

With the lockdown the said tech companies aggressively marketed their services and taking a leaf from that reputed Hospital chains in Sri Lanka also started providing Online Doctor consultation services using their existing pool of doctors.

As per records there was an obvious spike on Online Video Doctor consultation services but it is still too early to predict if this mode could be exploited in a border manner. 

Despite the Lockdown now being lifted partially the online marketing industry experts predict that some of the listed online business lines would be a part of the consumers life post Lockdown too. The scale of the business lines would be questionable but the lockdown has definitely created market opportunities for the above online business lines.