Change in online retail shopping habits of consumers amidst COVID-19

P Chandrashekhara Reddy on online shopping & retail trends

P Chandrashekhara Reddy, Freedom Healthy Cooking Oils highlights the ease of online shopping behavior for consumers and other retail trends amidst the COVID-19 lockdown.

COVID-19 is an unprecedented event in our times. The outbreak of this pandemic has brought the entire world to a standstill. Physical distancing is the only known measure to control the outbreak. Most of the businesses have faced disruptions and started working remotely & few businesses have shut their operations temporarily. In this scenario, Social Distancing, personal protection, maintenance of hygiene & sanitization, healthy eating, and living are emerging as the new buzz words.

With humanity in lock-down, essential commodities are in demand. For the purchase of these items, the options available to Indian consumers are the traditional Kirana stores or organized modern retail or e-commerce portals.

All the offline purchases have to be done ensuring ‘Social Distancing’. Shops are operating under the protocols of limited people in-store and maintenance other guidelines, resulting in long queues outside the shops.

What is the more convenient option? Shopping online offers, both the safety and convenience during these unique times.

Online > Offline

In some ways, this crisis is very similar to the SARS epidemic.

Although Alibaba was present in China since 1999, it was only in the year 2003 during the SARS outbreak, Alibaba gained a lot.

During the outbreak, everyone was afraid to move outside,, one of the largest online retail chains in China, moved its physical stores to an online store. SARS epidemic created a new opportunity for the Chinese e-commerce industry and changed consumer shopping habits and consumption forever.   

Also read: Ambika Sharma on tackling mental health amidst WFH during COVID-19

A similar trend is now being observed in India. E-retailers are gaining prominence, and witnessing a surge in traffic and demand as more customers are preferring home delivery of essentials over the inconvenience of standing in long queues, risk of catching infection with in-store shopping since the pandemic began.

The e-retailers, after the initial challenge of maintenance of stock inventory to cater to the surge in demand due to panic purchase triggered by lockdown and non-availability of sufficient delivery personnel. With time, however, they have now streamlined their operations by focusing on essential commodities.

They have also increased the manpower and introduced steps like contactless delivery for enhanced safety. They are also running campaigns to assure customers are informed about the safety protocols being followed. This will increase the trust and ensure a larger adoption of e-commerce platforms.

Some large-format stores like Big Bazar, are going online to serve and retain their loyal customer database. The retailers like D-Mart are innovatively circulating spreadsheets, for home delivery of pre-ordered a stock of essentials to selected residential communities.

The pandemic is definitely revolutionizing and energizing the online purchase of products. According to the experts, we need to be careful of hygiene, physical distancing even after the lockdown is removed and a vaccine is invented.

Online e-commerce is here to stay and disrupt the way we purchase essential food items. In fact, this pandemic will ensure better penetration of online shopping to tier II towns and the rural areas.

Data from China shows that the (online shopping) numbers will stay elevated even after the crisis, as more people are exposed to the ease and fun of online shopping.

We, at Freedom Healthy Cooking Oils, ensure that a sufficient supply of edible oil is maintained across all outlets to match up with this trend.

This article piece is authored by P Chandrashekhara Reddy, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Freedom Healthy Cooking Oils