According to the article entitled Online Grocery Shopping: Ripe Timing for Resurgence, Maya Swedowsky report that the online shopping for groceries in United States of America is reborn and increasing as the consumers’ behaviour is changing towards online tools to fill in their grocery bags and have been influenced by four factors, which are convenience, usage of broadband, Generation Y, and customization of products. This can be proven by the number of grocers which has increased more than 13 times since 2001, where US population is nearly doubled during that period.
The purpose of the article is to let the target audience of the article, which is people who work in the food industry (food manufacturers and food companies) know that the current trend of consumers is going for groceries’ online shopping. The finding of the article is very good since it will help food companies or manufacturers to get an idea and come out with their own web sites and offer online shopping to the customers in order to keep up the trend with their target market.
Hence, they are able to compete with other companies who are already offering online shopping to the consumers. Moreover, Swedowsky also stated that “online grocery could become a catch-all of convenience for the food, beverage and personal categories”. It is true and I am totally agreed with the statement. Besides avoiding crowds and traffic, as stated by the author, the other benefit of convenience is because the customers do not need to face the irritating sales girls that pushed them to buy the products that they are promoting.
Some of the promoters make the customers run away from the shop just because of their attitude by forcing the customers to try the new food and beverage products and forced the customers to buy the products after tried it. Normally, those customers will not come back to that shop again. By having online shopping, the customers will not face those promoters because customers will only deal the purchase with the machines. Furthermore, according to Swedowsky, “the Web allows grocer to offer a wide product assortment and in-depth product information”.
It is true and I agree with the statement because online stores must describe all products with the image and providing all the information that the customers may want to know, such as, the nutritional values, safety information, recipes, serving suggestion, and manufacturer’s information. This is very important as customers will be more satisfied and the incidence of buying the wrong food products will be avoided. Besides, the customers also able to compare the price of the products between different stores and can find the cheapest price and highest quality products easily compared to offline shopping.
Women customers especially, are very concern about the nutritional information and price of the products since they have to buy something healthy for their family, but at the same time they also have to control the financial flow of the family, especially during recession time. Due to that, the online stores that provide discounts or coupons will be the first choice of the customers. In addition, Swedowsky notify that, “the delivery charges are a stumbling block for those who cannot justify spending the extra money”.
According to online panel survey conducted by Nielsen Company, almost 70% of the respondent agreed that shipping cost is one of the barriers of online shopping. Almost all companies charged for shipping cost but the charges are different among companies. However, in my opinion, it is acceptable to charge a shipping cost for online shopping as long as the charges are not too expensive and the products are delivered on time. If we want something easier and better, of course we have to pay more for that. There is nothing free in the business.
Besides, it is useless if the companies do not have any charges for delivery but their delivery service is very bad. Sometimes, the food companies have their own strategy by do not charge for the shipping cost, but they actually already charge for those services in the other way that cannot be detected by customers such as, the prices of their products are slightly higher than other online stores who charge for delivery cost. Badly, some of the customers do not realize that trick and goes for online stores who do not charge for shipping cost.
More to the point, security and privacy is one of the drawbacks of online shopping. According to online panel survey conducted by Nielsen Company, almost 40% of the respondent claimed that security and privacy is one of the barriers of online shopping and I am totally agree with that. It is because, consumers normally use credit card or debit card when deal with online shopping and some of the online stores do not have the system that can block the Internet thief from accessing the credit cards’ pin number.
The credit card will be used by the thief without being noticed by the owners and the owners have to pay for the expenses. In terms of privacy, some of the online stores give the customers’ information to the third party and this situation is very uncomfortable, especially when the customers always receive calls or emails from the third party. In my opinion, online shopping for groceries will also lead to less social activities among family members. This is because, family members do not need to go shopping together anymore to buy groceries because they can just buy the groceries with one click to the Internet.
There will be no more fun and they have less time to do group activities. Everybody is buying their own groceries and talk less to each other. The relationships between family members will not be close anymore and will not be the same as they go for shopping together and have discussion about what they want to buy. According to the article, the online shopping for groceries in America is growing as “more than 13 million U. S Internet users visited a grocery site in July 2009” (Swedosky, 2009).
However, the situation is very different in Malaysia since Malaysians are not very familiar with the online shopping, not only for groceries but also for other products, such as handbags or clothes, especially among adult and older consumers. In Malaysia, online shopping is only familiar among Generation Y since they are growing with the technologies. They have the latest technology and love to surf Internet. However, for this time being, Generation Y is only doing online shopping for clothes, handbags and their own accessories, but not for groceries since shopping for groceries is done by their parents.
There is also some of Generation X in Malaysia goes for online shopping, but it is only people who are educated and have high salary income. Online shopping for groceries in Malaysia have not yet become a trend or common practices since people are not exposed and used to it and most of Malaysian do not have trust on online shopping. They have to be educated with the benefits of online shopping. Hence, Malaysia has a huge market potential for food companies or manufacturers, who want to start online shopping for groceries.
However, firstly, the food companies have to do market survey to know the potential of the business and if they want to start the online shopping business, they have to come out with user friendly websites. It is very important since in the trial period, the consumers need their own time to adapt to the technology. Maybe in the future, Generation Y will also do online shopping for their groceries and this will generate huge sales and income for the food companies and manufacturers.