How Social Distancing Made Conventional Grocery Shopping Impossible?

30 March 2020
5 min read

It started off with a small number of people panic buying toilet rolls and other household essentials after the virus slowly expanded to several countries. However, the stockpiling quickly escalated into whole nations frantically trying to secure themselves adequate supplies for 14 days, or longer in many cases. As coronavirus spread across Italy, France, Spain, the UK and beyond, so did the stockpiling.

How conventional supermarket chains crashed after stockpiling and lack of employees?

The domino effect of seeing everyone else stocking up was enough to worry even the calmest and rational of people, who reasoned with themselves that if everyone else was buying up the essentials they should too.

This caused major supermarket chains to stockpile in order to satisfy demand, only to find themselves with a lack of employees to sell it all, as people either suspected they may have the virus or chose to self-isolate if they were in an at-risk group. 

This led to shoppers who would normally use a supermarket in person, to seek what they wanted online instead. Amazon was quickly overwhelmed by orders of toilet rolls and hand sanitizer, which led to third party sellers ramping up prices and some were banned from selling as a result.

A reversal of the predicted fall in online grocery shopping

Where experts had previously predicted that less than 10% of the grocery market would be online by 2024,  the spike in online orders now means that delivery slots are booked up weeks ahead, with most people struggling to find an available slot. Long after the health risk is over, grocery shopping may never return to the way it was

For many people who saw it as a last option to order from supermarkets online, they may have discovered the process of typing into a search bar, is much more appealing than walking up and down aisles looking for the specific products they want. The convenience of not leaving the house or carrying heavy shopping more than a few feet may be enough to entice them to do all or most of their food shopping online. With countries such as Italy, France and Spain going into lockdown or having curfews introduced, this has been the only way those affected could receive essential supplies, while unable to leave their homes or travel very far.

People adapting to the safety of being at home more often

For many people who have been able to adapt to home working, there’s an appeal to having food shopping delivered during the workday, unpacking it, then getting straight back to work in minimal time. Once employers have established a way for home working to operate smoothly, it will be difficult to remove it and bring people back to the office, particularly if a long commute is involved.

With an increase in caution over health and the worry of spreading germs, this could change the way they shop, resulting in a much higher percentage of online shopping than predicted. With the US announcing that 705 of the first 2,500 confirmed cases were in the 20-44 age range, it proved that nobody is safe or immune. The data website Statista has stated that around the 28,000 coronavirus patients in Italy were aged between 19 and 50. Although the elderly and people with certain health conditions are considered high-risk, the illusion of youth as protection from the virus being curbed could lead to more people of all age groups continuing to shop online. Despite more fatalities in the older age groups, younger adults may want to minimise the risks too. A trip to the supermarket may be seen as unnecessary and, in some cases, too risky.

Going contactless

Having shopping delivered can also be contactless, with no cash or cards being handled, and for anyone feeling more conscious of germs following this pandemic, it is another reason to shop online. Now that takeaway services such as Deliveroo have led the way for supermarkets in finding ways to avoid contact with methods such as ringing the bell and leaving the food in a safe place, it feels like the safer option for the future. Although supermarkets seem to be the more popular option. In the future, more people might choose to cook at home more often, choosing to go contactless in every step of the process from shopping online to preparing home-cooked food in their own kitchen.

How to turn this crisis into an opportunity with Ubimecs?

Ubimecs offers an all-inclusive online grocery platform by catering supermarkets among other stores, making the setup process and delivery of the service straightforward.

Ubimecs lowers overheads, provides great customer reach 24/7 and personalizes the customer experience, based on shopping habits and behaviours. Ubimecs’ voice shopping feature even allows customers to use Google Assistant to shop. The platform is easy to use on desktop, mobile and many other devices.

Customers can choose “click & collect” or “home delivery”, with easy to navigate categories and listings. The product details feature allows buyers to see the details for each item before deciding to purchase. This can make the online shopping experience simpler, even for those who are less tech-savvy.

For supermarkets who already offer online shopping, Ubimecs makes it easy to reach new and existing customers who want to make the switch to shopping online. Store Navigator allows them to find the nearest store to them when opting for collection, while the loyalty programme increases the chance of repeat customers by offering points.

Analytics provides the store with useful information such as download rates, total users and revenue, providing valuable information that could help to make improvements and lead to an increase in sales and customer loyalty.

Contact us for more information and we can help you succeed in mobile commerce according to your business needs.

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