Duong in District 8, HCMC, who sells food to apartment residents, has seen her revenues go up three times from before the outbreak. These days, she makes up to VND1.5 million (US$64) in revenue a day from selling dumplings, beef jerky and frozen food to a Facebook group comprising residents in her apartment building.
"My prices are 20% lower than physical stores because I don’t have to pay for the brick and mortar costs. Most of my customers are apartment residents who know of my online reputation."
Another seller, Loan, said that in the last three weeks, she has seen a five-time surge in orders, and even more in recent days after HCMC ordered restaurants and nonessential businesses to close.
She sells Vietnamese sausage and spring rolls to a group in an apartment complex in Thu Duc District with 15,000 members, earning profits of VND400,000 (US$17) a day, matching the earnings of a typical white-collar worker.
"Customers like this type of food because it is easy to cook and preserve."
The rising number of apartments in HCMC in recent years has contributed to the establishment of online market groups where residents sell and buy food.
As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country go past 200 and most commercial establishments including have been asked to close, apartment residents are relying more on such these groups for daily meal ingredients as they refrain from going outside in compliance with authorities’ orders.
An administrator of an online market group in Thu Duc said that the number of posts has surged this year amidst the pandemic with hundreds a day advertising food and ingredients.
"We only allow residents to sell products to ensure high food quality. Farm produce is often sold out during the day because of high demand for fresh food."
Residents say they also enjoy the convenience and quality. Hoa, who lives in an apartment building in District 8, has been reducing her shopping frequency in nearby markets due to fear of contracting the virus.
"I now buy breakfast every day for my family online. The sellers have lots of different foods with no shipping fees."
Other buyers say although these groups do not have the product range of a supermarket, they provide customers with fresh and reliable food, as most sellers are residents in the same complex.
Now, more sellers are considering doing this business job long term, not just during the pandemic crisis.
About six months ago, Oanh abandoned her milk tea shop in Binh Thanh District to focus on online sales among an apartment Facebook group of 8,000 members.
Without rent, she managed to offer prices lower than milk tea chains and earns up to VND2 million (US$85) a day in revenue.
"I sell up to 200 cups a day easily."