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  • By: Gary Low
  • Apr 14, 2022

Behind the Scenes: The Importance of Legal Solutions amid COVID-19 Challenges for eCommerce

The ongoing pandemic has prompted the adoption of new laws and regulations at a rapid pace, both to stem the spread of the virus and to bolster the economy. At Lazada, which has a presence across six major Southeast Asian countries, it’s been especially crucial to stay abreast of an increasingly dynamic and fragmented market for legal rules in order to effectively respond to and minimize the impact and disruption to how the company operates and serves different communities.


Using Technology to Keep Up with Regulatory Developments

At the start of the pandemic, regulators were under extraordinary pressure to come up with quick responses. Many changes and measures were implemented swiftly, amended within days to address new mutations of the virus, and often varied significantly across countries.


To keep up with the changing regulatory landscape, Lazada’s legal team set up an automated alert system – the regulatory watch bot – in 2020 to monitor updates from government agencies and regulatory bodies across all six of its markets.


Based on pre-set parameters, relevant developments were consolidated into daily briefings and cascaded to each country’s legal team. Aside from saving a significant amount of time, the manner in which the updates were automatically identified and packaged meant that teams were able to quickly act on new developments, enabling strategic business decisions that positively impacted both consumers and sellers.


For instance, when the Singapore government announced the commercial availability of specific ART kits in 2021, Lazada’s legal team was able to leverage information gleaned from the watch bot and provide same-day advice on implementation and control measures to facilitate the sales of these approved kits on its eCommerce platform.


The watch bot also proved crucial during lockdowns, allowing Lazada’s legal team to stay on top of announcements across six Southeast Asian countries and to quickly adapt its delivery and fulfilment center operations in accordance with regulations and restrictions that were being updated on an almost daily basis.


Supporting Businesses and Uplifting Communities

Lazada’s legal team has also quickly identified new opportunities to help brands and partners adjust to an accelerated pace of digitalization brought on by the pandemic.


In 2020, the company partnered with Indonesia’s Ministry of Cooperatives and small and medium-sized enterprises to launch the Kakak Asuh (Foster Brother) Program. Under this initiative, Lazada committed to training digital marketing experts to act as mentors to small businesses and help them grow their eCommerce businesses and online presence. The legal team was able to use information from the regulatory watch bot to facilitate this new digital-transformation channel, connecting the government, digital marketing experts and small businesses through a robust legal framework. During extended periods of brick-and-mortar closures as the pandemic unfolded across the country, the Kakak Asuh Program became a lifeline for thousands of micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises, giving them the opportunity to integrate technology in their businesses and sell online.


Lazada’s strong legal responses during the pandemic have helped thousands of sellers move online, maintain their livelihoods and cushion the blow to the whole region’s economy. In fact, the company earlier this month hit a new milestone of 1 million selling sellers on its platform. These sellers are able to leverage Lazada’s highly digitalized, easy-to-use application and AI-enabled business advisor to connect with more than 150 million consumers.


Aside from supporting sellers, Lazada’s legal team has also helped other communities across the region. In Singapore, for example, recognizing the spike in demand for eCommerce services, the team saw an opportunity to create a new channel for services for taxi and private-hire drivers, who had been negatively impacted by lockdowns and other social-distancing measures. The team went to work with leading commercial transport providers like ComfortDelGro and successfully lobbied with relevant regulatory bodies to grant prompt approvals for taxi and private-hire drivers to pivot to last-mile delivery services so they could bring daily essentials to Singaporeans. Not only did this creative solution enable businesses to continue delivering orders during a time of crisis, it also boosted the economy, ensured consumers had access to essential items and helped negatively impacted sectors find new sources of income.


Over the last two years, Lazada’s legal responses have played a critical role in ensuring that the company continues serving sellers, consumers and partners through technology adoption and the identification of various growth opportunities. As a testament to its hard work and commitment, Lazada’s legal team was named best in-house team of the year at the 2021 Asian Legal Business SE Asia Law Awards for several categories, including compliance and regulatory risk management; technology, telecommunications and media industry; and innovation. All this goes to show that strong legal solutions really do make a difference, especially during difficult times.


Gary Low is the vice president for legal and regulatory engagement at Lazada Group.

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