In early spring 2022, the pandemic in Shanghai was raging, but the community group buying business was booming. This seems to confirm a rule: challenges can always be turned into opportunities at any time.
Faced with the sudden onslaught of the virus, many residents’ daily lives were greatly affected. Various mechanisms and channels are doing their best to help ordinary people solve difficulties. But objectively speaking, the effect of traditional mechanisms is not ideal. The grassroots government departments provided free vegetables and food for community residents who could not go out, which solved some problems in a planned economy-like mode. But due to resources and manpower constraints, neither quantity nor quality, nor efficiency or fairness can fully meet demand. And traditional large enterprises such as JD.com, Meituan, and Taobao, although they use market economy models, were almost paralyzed in the early stages due to various factors such as logistics and manpower. It has been proven that large organizational structures (whether government or enterprise) relying on traditional mechanisms cannot make quick and satisfactory responses to sudden and large-scale changes.
In contrast, the community group buying that emerged during the Shanghai pandemic showed obvious advantages in at least one aspect: their rapid adaptability and response speed. To some extent, this new model of community group buying can be seen as having the same operating mechanism as the virus: simple and fast spreading. This is their significant strength, and this strength comes from the reconstruction of their business structure. This belongs to a “system-level” reconstruction, not those small repairs and “micro-innovations”, which means that they may have huge potential in the future. Although there are still many problems with community group buying at present and there are obvious shortcomings. But these shortcomings are likely to be improved and gradually resolved through innovation.
Just like after SARS, e-commerce such as “Taobao” emerged and was not very mature at first, but they also had obvious strengths at that time. As the shortcomings were resolved, it gradually developed into a mainstream business model. For today’s enterprises, decentralization has become an obvious trend. And this pandemic once again proves that individuals and small and micro enterprises are “small boats that are easy to turn around” and are better able to adapt to uncertainty and frequent changes. Therefore, how to improve and develop new decentralized business models such as community group buying is worthy of attention and thinking by innovators.