By Anandhi Gopinath of The Edge Malaysia
Once upon a time, it was only books you could buy online. Once upon a later time, the Internet became a great marketplace for electronics too. Then came the time when fashion apparel and accessories joined the online retail mix.
Now, e-commerce has taken over the one aspect of our lives we once thought was sacred: grocery shopping.
This may be hard to believe, but it is 100% true — buying daily necessities such as bread, milk and butter can now also be done online, and it’s a trend that’s becoming an important sector of online retail.
While no one expects a sudden, massive migration to online grocery shopping in the next few years (the revolutionary shift in consumer behaviour sparked elsewhere by digital technology likely won’t take place here), consumers are steadily embracing the notion of buying groceries online — shampoo, detergent, soup and soda, if not bananas and lettuce as well.
A 2012 Nielsen survey of consumers in 56 countries uncovered some fascinating insights on this trend. The number of people stating that they intend to buy food and beverages online grew 44% over the last two years and 26% of global respondents say they plan to purchase food and beverage products through an online connected device in the next three to six months.
It’s a trend that has been a-long-time-coming, spurred by the general growth of online shopping and how retailers have made it easier and increasingly user-friendly. You don’t even have to leave your home and your shopping bag arrives at your doorstep. Regular online shoppers can appreciate just how addictive this activity really is. That, along with faster-paced lives, the constant challenge of traffic and scarcity of parking has made the idea of shopping online for your groceries a stroke of genius.
There are other benefits too. You are less likely to impulse buy because you’re not tempted by fancy displays in the store. Shopping online also helps you eat healthier because you’re not tempted to buy junk food, and it makes for more efficient shopping as you search and select only what you need. It also makes menu planning much easier as you can add items to your virtual cart across a number of days, making sure everything is ticked off your list.
Best of all, the planet stands to benefit as well. According to a study conducted by engineers from the University of Washington, grocery delivery services can cut carbon emissions in half, and possibly more. The reasoning is fairly straightforward: packed trucks can provide groceries to many people in a single trip, thus removing many cars from the road.
“A lot of times, people think they have to inconvenience themselves to be greener and that actually isn’t the case here,” says Anne Goodchild, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering who worked on the study. “From an environmental perspective, grocery delivery services, overwhelmingly, can provide emissions reductions.”
The one area where brick-and-mortar stores may still reign supreme is in the fresh produce section — even as we buy everything else with a mouse, when it comes to selecting fresh produce and meat, most of us still prefer to do it in person. But if you can bring yourself to allow another person to pick your produce, there are a number of great options to choose from in KL — organic farms, local cattle farms and organic bakeries that deliver fresh and delicious products right to your doorstep.
Time to go shopping? Take a detour from your usual grocery shop and head online instead. It’s a whole new world out there.
This article was first published in the Edge Online, “Your Window to Malaysia”.
Photo credit: Tesco Malaysia