COVID-19 drastically altered the way we look at food. When consumers started looking for alternatives to supermarkets, the first element that got affected is their eating habits. Initially, they panicked and rushed to the neighborhood stores. But the benefits of the online shopping revolution slowly dawned upon them. They realized it is much easier to order on the internet and receive food and groceries delivered at their doorsteps.
Even businesses altered their way of selling online products. They understood that customers aspired for fresh produce. They also realized that the buyers preferred to purchase locally-produced agricultural products.
Supermarkets and giant online retailers face many challenges, especially during this lockdown scenario. The complications of pandemic online shopping are multi-tiered with multiple factors affecting the buyers’ buying behavior. For major shopping sites like Desertcart, the demand for fresh supplies shot up considerably. This change led to the creation of online waiting lists and queues for food items.
Yes, the sales of fresh foods doubled up after the rise of COVID-19. But consumer awareness threw up many challenges. The buyers expect a reliable delivery system with fresh vegetables, fruits, and other edibles. They also expect a diverse option to choose from for their daily needs.
Traditional supermarkets have their advantages. They cater to the customers’ demands by relying on diverse sources. They stock up on fresh foods by dealing with both local and international suppliers. International trade in agro-products is cheaper, and it helps with the profit margins.
However, local grocers and supermarkets have some limitations. They have a lower average storage capacity for food products. Besides, any disruption in logistics and international trade will affect them immensely. Due to this pandemic, the entire logistic and transportation system went mayhem. Today, they have to reevaluate their supply chain and set up buffer stocks to meet demand.
Thankfully, the online retail revolution proves to be beneficial. Customers showed a distinct shift in their buying patterns. They moved from physical markets to digital shops and web stores. E-commerce sites like Desertcart also rose to the occasion. They started satisfying customers with fresh supplies. The websites also catered to diverse requests for cereals, pulses, and fruit varieties.
Disadvantages of Supermarkets
Supermarket chains capture a disproportionate share of the market space. But their food products are very narrow and limited. They do not deliver a variety of foods and a lack of crop variety. Thankfully, the e-retail shopping revolution has offset some of the following disadvantages –
- A narrow stock of limited food varieties that does not satisfy the customers
- The reliance on fast-growing food crops, raising health-concern questions
- Limited produce stored in large quantities
- Their tie-ups with industrial agricultural companies that are creating lower brand value
- Over-dependence on monoculture crops leading to pest and disease-ridden varieties.
- An underrated supply chain system because of low wages and temporary job markets.
Rise of Local Systems
The retail shopping revolution transformed the market for food products. More and more e-commerce sites like Desertcart depend on native suppliers. They act as a conduit in reducing the gap between the food grower and consumer. Consequently, buyers get organic and healthy food items.
- Organic and eco-friendly farming techniques are more reliable.
- Sustainable farms are productive, profitable, and long-lasting.
- The online shopping revolution ensures minimum and fair wages.
- Local farming decisions get driven by communities and demand for diversity.
- The supply chain and logistical requirements become less complex and cheap.
- Customers also have access to fresh fruits, vegetables, pulses, and cereals.
- The online service is more transparent, accessible, and convenient to use.
The pandemic online shopping has also come to the rescue of farmers. Those with excess stock were getting worried about storage and rot. But thankfully, e-commerce sites like Desertcart have come to their rescue. The online platform helps them sell their food even during this serious crisis.
Innovative new techniques are also coming up in local agro-business. Schemes are getting launched to assist local farms with seasonal activities. Cash is being infused into this market to help the farmers buy seeds and grow fresh crops. Small distributors are also profiting by liaising between farms, chefs, cooks, eateries, restaurants, hotels, etc.
Since the customer wants fresh foods, the best websites have to oblige. The online retail revolution is here to stay. So, technological investment and innovation are also on the rise. E-commerce stores like Desertcart have upgraded their websites to cater to these fresh demands.
Many leading sites added home delivery and fast shipping options for food items. The logistical software also comes with features to accommodate new supply chain volumes. The main aim is to deliver more vegetable and fruit boxes to the customers’ doorstep as fast as possible. It is important to manage and process the inventory to ensure freshness. Food wastage reduction through more efficient warehousing and storage facilities is becoming vital.
- Unconventional techniques are getting employed to increase online business.
- Fresh supplies of foods, fruits, and vegetables are daily available via transparent supply chain management.
- Social media, group chat, and messaging apps are becoming common advertisement channels.
- Orders get collected online, and fresh food boxes are home-delivered on time.
- The e-retail shopping revolution and local farms create a win-win scenario. The e-stores find it easier to create feelings of community, brotherhood, sharing and caring, and as a result, the brand value increases.
But the retail shopping revolution is not always smooth and straightforward. Price variations act as an obstacle in shifting to local producers. However, the customer’s preferences and choices are also essential factors to consider while making this shift. So, the move from cheap foods to fresh and expensive foods is inevitable. All said and done; the pandemic gives a great boost to online shopping.
But, economic viability is still a challenge for the e-commerce store. Customers want quick shipping in appropriate packages. Some prefer simple packages for a cleaner environment. As a result, production optimization has become a critical focal point. Waste reduction, resource management, and ethical distribution issues are also getting addressed to create a healthy, hygienic food system.