Why people still don’t buy produce online
Ever since human mobility have been improved deliveries have become one of the most lucrative and invaluable services, particularly food items delivery. We have progressed from delivering cold noodle by foot in Korea in the 18th century, to delivering hot meals and groceries.
This is all attributed to our connectivity and demand. As the world becomes more fast-paced everyone began to look for ways to save time. This is how Pizza delivery become the king of the food delivery industry. Hot meals in less than an hour is all the rave and it has never died down. However this is unacceptable for those who prefer the freedom and health benefits of home cooking. But this lifestyle is hardly time efficient. Grocery shopping is a resource consuming chore. Choosing the best ingredients is one thing, but getting to the market too can be a problem itself. You may have to put up with traffic and need to find yourself a parking spot. Once you’re in you have to lug around a basket or shopping cart. If you’re at the farmer’s market you have to squeeze between the crowd, and if you’re at the supermarket you have to contend with people’s shopping carts and your own.
Produce — or grocery delivery in general — is surprisingly unpopular however, and there are loads of stories both local and abroad of failed startups trying to fill this gap in the market. With all the problems stated before with grocery shopping you might think that it would be as common as a monthly magazine subscription. Why not? Online shopping has boomed since the late 90’s when the internet has become more mainstream. Almost every business has an online presence, from hardware stores to coffee roasters. You can sell either from a sellers’ platform such as Lazada or Amazon, or from your own dedicated website.
But the grocery and produce business is hardly a very lucrative one. Most of the businesses you see running today are running very low profit margins, even the household names. In plain English this means that for them to get rich there is no other way but to go big. A humble mom-and-pop store would be no more lucrative than a well-earning freshman. Big name supermarkets and farm produce brands are multibillion dollar businesses generating hundreds of millions of gross profit a month, and that is without the large investment in technology and logistics of home delivery service. You do see big name supermarkets and a few fully virtual produce and grocery stores here and there making their presence known in the home delivery scene, but all that account to just a few percent of the total online shopping market. They show more prominence in the Western hemisphere. Well, except South Korea and United Kingdom where their online grocery shoppers may approach — or even have reached — double digit percentage of online market share. But their online grocers are located in cities with dense populations where reaching large customer base with minimal delivery centers are possible. They can be slightly more lucrative in that setting where driving in such cities are less than desirable, unless you’re paid to do so. But even so, since the first ever online grocery delivery service started in 1989 at the United States, even with internet prominence it is still an unpopular trend in the majority of countries around the world.
Why is that so? Well it could be a number of reasons, and one of them could be a lack of trust and skepticism. Despite all our complaints many of us are still quite skeptical of acquiring uncooked ingredients without seeing them first. We go through the trouble of driving ourselves to the shop just so we can see and feel first hand what we would be paying for. Buying produce without seeing them first seems a bit unnerving. Perhaps it’s our prior experience with produce shopping that makes us reluctant to trust the selections made for us.
Or perhaps we like the freedom and control. For example you can choose a mix of ripe and slightly unripe fruits. Unripened fruits can be kept for later because they will stay fresh for longer as they continue to ripen. Time that correctly and you will get a longer supply chain of fresh fruit instead of having to buy new ones more frequently. You may find that at least half of the fruits in supermarkets are slightly unripe. This is because unripe fruits are much tougher and therefore have less chance of bruising when being shipped. They also stay fresh for longer at room temperature. They are expected to ripen as soon as they reach the supermarket shelves but quite often that is not the case. Most of the time because of the high demand supermarkets simply put them up for sale regardless of their unattractive looks. An experienced buyer would use this to their advantage for a longer lasting fruit supply.
Regardless whether it’s the lack of choices in your area or consumer skepticism, produce delivery services should be given a chance to bloom. They would diversify our online shopping culture and induce growth in the local economy provided that they source their products locally. In South East Asia fruit and vegetable delivery is slowly gaining traction with small farms catering for their own community.
In Malaysia companies like BANSAN PENANG offers a farm-to-table fruit and vegetable delivery service for those in the Penang island and some areas on the mainland. They offer a professional delivery service and satisfaction warranty for the freshest produce possible. Their products are harvested daily in the morning from their own farm, but for diversity they also source from other local suppliers as well. Whether it’s 2 a.m in the morning or just before punching out of the office, you can place your order anytime and have them delivered to your doorstep at your convenience.