Internet enterprises roll out courses to help merchants amid epidemic

Many Internet enterprises in China have set up open-ended online “universities”, providing targeted courses to help business owners survive the pandemic.

Chang Yupeng, a deliveryman with Meituan, tells his story in an online course. (Photo via Meituan)

The wide range of courses offered, which include epidemic prevention, catering, food delivery, e-commerce and live broadcasts, are tailor-made for merchants’ needs and have turned out to be very popular.

Since March, the online university of Meituan Dianping, China’s food delivery giant, has invited a number of catering brands to share their experience in embracing digitalization and reducing the impact of the epidemic, something that all catering businesses can benefit from.

“The pandemic has speeded up online education for many industries,” said Chen Rongkai, Vice President of Meituan Dianping, adding that the company’s university aims to provide training for food deliverymen and other personnel while helping merchants improve their digital operations and prepare for the future market.

Meituan Dianping has rolled out over 3,000 courses in the forms of pictures, videos and live broadcasts over the past three months, with the courses’ page views exceeding 90 million, according to data from the company.

The popularity of such courses is also evident in Tencent Class, an online vocational education platform under China’s tech giant Tencent. Data released by the platform shows that the total duration of online vocational education at Tencent Class went up 3.5 times during the outbreak.

The most popular courses include those on professional skills, programming, Internet products, practical English, medicine and health.

Online learning, which is usually inexpensive and has low requirement thresholds, can be promoted among all employees in enterprises, making the learning new skills a daily practice for them, said Ye Ting, operations director at the university under the online market platform Taobao.

By introducing open-ended “universities”, these enterprises have shown brand image and public service capabilities, which will also drive the growth of related companies in the ecological chain, noted Miu Rong, a chief researcher at the China Enterprise Confederation.