Prior to 2019, there was some reluctance to buy and sell fruits and vegetables online. Customers felt uncomfortable with not having the product physically in front ofthem, and some retailers did not see this as an area of opportunity. According to the study "online sales of fruit and vegetables in Europe" conducted by Freshfel Europe and OECD Fruits and Vegetables Scheme, the trend of buying fresh food in the online channel is a regional situation that has developed mainly in China (where it is growing by 50% every year with a market value of €60 billion), and this trend is similar in the United States. In Europe the market has shown a much slower development.
But why is this happening? Here are some clues.
According to the study, the main challenges facing fresh food are:
1. The retail infrastructure in Europe is designed for high store density and proximity to the consumer.
2. Dealing with the costs of shipping without making the purchase too expensive is one ofthe main challenges.
3. The density of stores and the payment systems prevent "same day delivery", which is the main advantage that consumers indeed find in this channel.
4. In fresh food shopping the consumer feels more comfortable having a haptic experience (touching the food).
However, due to the situation caused by Covid-19, many countries began a process of acceleration in their models of buying and selling fresh food online. According to data from the consulting firm IRI in Spain, the impact of the coronavirus on large-scale distribution increased online purchases by more than 100% every week since the confinement began, increasing by 21.6% in the case of fresh food on average in the weeks between February and May 2020. To give you an idea, the average growth rate before the pandemic was 3%.
The models for buying and selling fresh produce online are varied, and depending on the country have developed differently, the trends being:
Belgium: trade with a B2B model
France: "drive through" / click and collect
Germany: Altruistic consumption
Spain: Online green grocers / direct suppliers from the field
It would be unwise to ignore the fact that online trading will continue to grow. Therefore, having an action plan within the business is vital.
1. Digitalize your processes: if you have a fruit and vegetable business, digitalize your catalog, offer detailed information about your products, logistics, orders and deliveries.
2. Offer transparency to your customers: To counteract the lack of haptic experience, take pictures of your products that reflect what your customers will receive when they buy them. In this way, a bond of trust is established between both parties.
3. Take advantage of tools that integrate what you need: every business is unique, so you may need to import your orders from supermarkets in one place, or you may want to customizethe rates you give to your customers, all this is possible and will save you time that you can use in other activities.
Are you aproducer, wholesaler, retailer, point of sale or supermarket interested in digitalizingyour operations? Do you have a fresh food business? Are you interested in boosting your operations?
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