Online orders are soaring in South Korea as millions of people are working from home amid soaring coronavirus cases. It's a race against the clock for delivery employees to mask up, disinfect and load boxes.
Jung Im-hong runs packages for delivery site Coupang.
(SOUNDBITE) (Korean) DELIVERY DRIVER AT SOUTH KOREAN E-COMMERCE FIRM COUPANG, JUNG IM-HONG, ORGANISING PACKAGES INSIDE TRUCK AND SAYING:
"In the past, we used to go out with the truck half full, but these days, there's so much to deliver there are packages left over after filling the truck completely."
Even before the epidemic, Euromonitor data shows that South Korea
South Korea has also had the biggest surge in number of virus cases, which has further sped up the shift to shop online.
As of mid-February, Coupang has seen deliveries jump to three million a day from just over two million late last year.
The virus has also forced delivery workers to abide by a variety of procedures, from wearing face masks at all times, to walking through thermal detectors before coming into work every day.
(SOUNDBITE) (Korean) DELIVERY DRIVER AT SOUTH KOREAN E-COMMERCE FIRM COUPANG, SAYING:
"We deliver packages to the front door to avoid contact between customers and Coupang delivery drivers. We just take a picture of the delivered package and let the customers know it was delivered. Then we're on our way to the next destination."
But the surge in e-commerce demand is a double-edged sword.
All the extra stuff being ordered are low-cost items.
Microwavable rice, diapers, kitchen towels, and more are being ordered en masse - while the cost of delivering the goods skyrockets.
Coupang was already struggling on the path to profitability in a highly competitive market with South Korean conglomerates like Shinsegae and Lotte.
For now, Coupang's hired a wave of new delivery workers to keep up with all those people isolated at home.
Only time will tell if that investment pays off.