How Coronavirus Pandemic Effects On Grocery Businesses
When the Covid-19 (the novel coronavirus) first emerged out of China in late 2019, there was little indication of how its spread around the world would wreak havoc on ill-prepared and unsuspecting countries. However, it is clear that very few people alive today would have witnessed the type of disruption caused by Covid-19. Almost every single industry on planet earth had been affected by the spread of Covid-19–some for their benefit, but for most businesses, the pandemic has had a disastrous effect. Grocery stores were one of the few businesses that prospered during the pandemic. But not surprisingly, the nature of the pandemic and the list of precautions necessary to combat it meant that a lot about grocery shopping had to change. The pandemic forced businesses to devote more time to the grocery delivery aspect of their operations. Nevertheless, many adjustments needed to be made. Here are the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the grocery delivery business.
Businesses offered delivery for the first time – Although many businesses have already moved online, grocery stores have been the most resistant to change, though through no fault of their own. Delivering groceries to customers presents a whole slew of challenges such as low profit margins, inadequate systems and somewhat unpredictable consumer behavior. However, rules about social distancing and the high rates of infection associated with congregating in large groups has forced grocery stores to come up with new ways to serve customers. Thus, in an effort to reach customers, many grocery stores were forced to begin grocery delivery despite their aversion to the practice.
Delivery got a much-needed boost – Businesses experienced an increase in the number of customers seeking to have their groceries delivered during the pandemic. Companies that already had a grocery delivery operation suddenly found themselves needing to beef up their offerings. They accomplished this by making delivery a prominent part of their businesses, increasing their delivery capabilities by hiring new drivers and purchasing new vehicles. Grocery delivery businesses also contracted delivery drivers in possession of their own vehicles. All of these helped these businesses meet customer demands.
Businesses had to anticipate customer needs/expectations – Customers hope that online stores would mimic the best parts of in-store shopping. For one, they hope that there would be a wide variety of products from which to choose. Secondly, grocery stores had to offer a delivery window that would suit the customer. A grocery delivery isn’t just another package since it could contain perishables such as meat and dairy. Companies also had to guarantee that they would supply customers with quality products. Customers wanted high quality produce and as a result, this pushed companies to invest in delivery trucks with refrigerated lockers. Businesses also had to share details about how long fresh produce would last after sale and if customers were unsatisfied with their purchases, the onus was on those businesses to offer customers the opportunity to exchange any food that did not meet their expectations.
Precaution – Although people were happy to have their groceries delivered, the act of grocery delivery required a great deal of fine-tuning for it to be safe. Since Covid-19 transmission rates are higher where individuals are not socially distanced, groceries took notes from other food delivery companies and eliminated as much contact between customer and courier as possible. This meant implementing contactless delivery options that saw delivery drivers leaving the customer’s purchases at their door for later retrieval. In addition to this, drivers were made to sanitize their hands routinely between deliveries.
Meal prep kits – The Covid-19 pandemic has also brought about a rise in interest in a more streamlined form of grocery shopping, meal prep kits. Companies like Blue Apron have reported that their businesses have grown rapidly as more people sought to cook at home, hoping to replicate meals they once enjoyed at restaurants forced to close by the pandemic. Meal delivery kits ship just enough ingredients to help shoppers prepare an agreed number of servings of a specific dish. Although not traditional grocery shopping, meal prep kit companies have been a notable part of the transformation.
It is yet to be seen how many of these changes survive the pandemic. However, grocery delivery always seemed to be on the horizon and a pandemic might be just enough to make these changes permanent.