After we had to put a stop to many aspects of our lives, one of these mornings I was surprised to see a scene that is undoubtedly being seen in many other homes around the world, the use of technology became a fundamental element to function, without the need to leave home: My wife who is a school teacher, giving her class online via Zoom; my daughter connected online while attending her High School classes; and I using my laptop to shop online for food.
It seems that this will be our new reality for a time. How many people who have never been “friends” of modern communication technology or routine internet users are suddenly scheduling video conferences from their laptops? Surely thousands or millions of people.
Given this new reality of being locked up indefinitely to protect our health, the question that arises for those of us who carefully observe the consumer products industry and supermarkets is: What will be happening with the online purchase of food products from supermarket?
Given this challenging environment, consumers are expected to have greater motivations and fewer barriers to more actively seeking solutions through the use of technology that facilitates everyday tasks such as shopping.
For some consumers, this may be entirely new behavior (such as buying food online the first time), while for others, this may mean increased online use or the incorporation of new technologies, tools, and software.
“There is no doubt that consumers who use technologies to stay informed and protect their health can instill confidence in a stressful period and this may be the unforeseen catalyst for affirming broader, long-term adoption of technology platforms and solutions,” said Nicole Corbett, Nielsen Director of Intelligence.
Online shopping is driven by limitations to go to stores
In a recent Nielsen study in countries that have been heavily impacted by the coronavirus, the following growths in online sales of consumer products were observed: France 87%, Italy 82%, Spain 62%, and Australia 45%. In each case, sales for a single week in February or March 2020 were compared to the same week in 2019.
In France, Spain, and Australia, where the penetration of online grocery shopping has previously been lower, they now also show considerable increases in this area, a clear sign that the use of technology for online retail shopping is beginning to generate profits that change the consumer life.
In the major e-commerce markets, South Korea and China, online shopping for consumer goods has had a strong presence for some time and is now established as a regular, if not preferred, shopping habit for a large proportion of consumers.
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As the coronavirus spread, older and less adventurous consumers also began venturing online, welcoming the security and convenience that the use of technology can provide amid movement restrictions and increased caution.
What do these indicators mean for our supermarket industry in the USA? Online purchases of consumer goods products have already shown upward growth for several years.
The impact of COVID-19 will surely make the growth of online sales and e-commerce more remarkable. Besides, everything indicates that the effects of this pandemic will have consequences, not for months but years.
Retailers should quickly address the main barriers or concerns that non-users have expressed in the past, whether these are guarantees of freshness or free delivery.
Even if we don’t like it, COVID-19 has just transformed our world. For our industry, it becomes clear, the importance of the use of technology for online sales accelerated forever.