The pandemic changed life as we know it, and many of these changes have turned out to be permanent: for example, home-working is now more widely available than ever before, and online doctors’ appointments are now regarded as a regular means of accessing healthcare.
Another revolution prompted by Covid regarded grocery delivery services. We take a look below at the rise of these services and why so many are continuing to access them.
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During the pandemic, if you or your household were isolating, then your only way of getting groceries was to ask a helpful friend to shop for you and leave the bags on your doorstep or to use a grocery delivery service. This necessity prompted many people who had never used online shopping to try it for the first time to get the supplies they needed. The convenience and opportunities to bulk buy that this afforded resulted in a high number of these users turning into permanent converts to this mode of shopping.
Even for those not isolating, having groceries delivered to the door was widely seen as preferable to avoid crowds and the subsequent possibility of infection. Even as the effects of the pandemic recede, those who are vulnerable, such as the elderly or people with compromised immune systems, are often still choosing to be on the safe side and avoid visiting the stores and supermarkets in person.
Wider Ranges Becoming Available
In response to the growing demand, supermarkets that were already offering delivery services widened their provision massively, opening up more delivery slots and expanding the radius in which they offered delivery. Further, the ranges of goods supplied online increased, meaning that customers were often able to shop for homeware and other items as well as food as part of their grocery shop. During the pandemic, when the onus was on avoiding close contact with others, this ability to get everything online in one place rather than to visit multiple shops was a key benefit.
As well as this, stores that had not, until this point, offered an online service at all began to provide it. Again, this made online grocery shopping more appealing for loyal customers of these stores, who hadn’t had the choice to shop online with them before.
The pandemic didn’t just affect how we shopped but what we bought, too. The sales of cleaning products rose exponentially, and items like hand sanitizer were continually in demand.
As well as cleaning supplies, the pandemic precipitated many of us going on a health kick, as our wellbeing and wellness came increasingly into the spotlight. This led to a huge rise in the popularity of health foods, and vegan-friendly snacks and meals particularly experienced a spike in sales. Many of us found ourselves suddenly with much more time on our hands and turned our attention to hobbies or learning new skills. Cooking from scratch became a way to use our time well and something that – for once – we had the opportunity to do. To this end, baking ingredients like flour and icing sugar started flying off the virtual shelves, as did luxury food products, as we sought to make the most of our suddenly confined world.
Features and Perks
The sheer volume of people wanting to complete their grocery shopping online led many providers to up their game, offering additional features and benefits to try to get a good share of the market.
When customers of the superstore Sam’s Club asked, ‘does Sam’s Club deliver?’ not only was the answer in the affirmative, but the company also responded by providing delivery slots within as little as an hour of ordering. The company also introduced a range of members’ benefits, such as discounts on gas and cashback.
Virtual Farmer’s Markets
In Eastern Europe, online grocery shopping is not widespread; instead, much of the population visits local farmer’s markets for the supplies they need. As a result of the pandemic, a significant number of these markets moved to an online carnation and continue to offer virtual shopping to local residents to this day. Online groups allow people to both buy and sell their wares: which can be anything from locally reared chicken to apple saplings!
The Future of Online Grocery Shopping
Online grocery shopping is likely to only go from strength to strength over the next few years, fuelled in part by new innovations or methods of marketing that are starting to be seen in this sector. For example, some online stores in China have begun to live stream influencers to help boost sales of certain products or ranges, while apps are also being used to provide virtual and real-time advice to shoppers if they need help choosing an item.
The pandemic revolutionized online grocery shopping, making it more widely available and more appealing than ever before. With online shopping now being the preferred mode of shopping for the majority of consumers for a variety of reasons – not least of which is an ongoing reluctance to be among crowds due to health concerns – its star will no doubt continue to rise.