Coronavirus • 15.04.2020

All hands on deck in food retailing due to the coronavirus pandemic

How online retailers and delivery services are reacting to changing user behaviour

For a long time, online food retailing was the problem child for German e-commerce. In many other countries, order rates for food were consistently higher than in Germany. Various initiatives by bricks-and-mortar German food retailers to enter the online business ended up in stagnation or even failure. Will the coronavirus pandemic now give the boost needed to successfully launch this branch of the business?

Many customers who are worried about becoming infected while shopping in a bricks-and-mortar store welcome being able to have food and everyday necessities delivered to their doorstep. As a result, the number of orders placed with grocery retailers with online product ranges and delivery services is increasing. “The uncertainties surrounding the novel coronavirus are disrupting shopping habits to a large extent and making online food retailing a more attractive, novel proposition for many consumers,” explained Dr. Eva Stüber, member of the IFH Cologne management board, in a press release dated March 10th.

More orders and larger shopping baskets

This is also being noticed by retailers, online supermarkets and delivery services. When quizzed about this, Christina Schütz, REWE Group Press Officer, responded: “At the REWE delivery service we are noticing a significant rise in demand for long-life foods, processed foods, canned foods and drugstore items – similar to the trend in-store.” The Federal Statistical Office also noted that certain products such as toilet paper and soap are now in greater demand than usual. 

The online supermarkets such as Picnic, report a similar situation on their platforms: “On some days, so many customers want to place an order that unfortunately we simply do not have enough staff to deal with all the requests, so it may be the case that our delivery dates are sadly booked up earlier than usual.” According to a report by Golem, Amazon’s food delivery service Amazon Fresh is also fully booked for a month. 

In a press release dated 29 February, Food.de stated an average increase of one third in the shopping basket, and noted that long-life foods are in particularly high demand. In its company blog, Food.de reported “an increase of 600 percent in new customers, sold-out products and no let-up in the number of orders so far. Overnight, locations that traditionally only see small shopping baskets are rising to the German average of over €80, easily outperforming the stronger regions.”

Thorsten Eder, CMO of getnow, also told us: “We are practically always fully booked and even if we increase our capacity, it’s not long until we’re again at the limit.” Practically all suppliers are experiencing delays, and delivery slots are becoming rarer. According to the MDR broadcaster, some delivery services, for example the beverage suppliers Durstexpress and Flaschenpost, have even had to temporarily close their online shops to adapt to the new conditions. 

Restrictions and measures – reactions of suppliers

Of course, the delivery services and online retailers need to react to these altered conditions. The general message is that strict hygiene regulations are being adhered to and deliveries are only being made to the front door. With getnow, there is no longer a need for delivery notes to be signed. According to REWE: “The PDC units used to confirm delivery are disinfected [...] each time they are used.”

For hygiene reasons, returns of deposit items and shipping materials are often not being accepted. Due to the high demand for certain FMCG products, the quantities that can be ordered are sometimes limited.

Reacting to this increased demand at short notice is without a doubt a great challenge for the suppliers. “We are optimising our processes and trying to hire new personnel,” explained Thorsten Eder from getnow. Warehouse workers and drivers are urgently being sought.

In a press release, the German E-Commerce and Mail Order Association (Bundesverband E-Commerce und Versandhandel Deutschland e.V.) encouraged the Federal Government to take concrete measures to make it easier for retailers to meet current needs. In addition to working time regulations and steps to support the transport of goods, bevh CEO Christoph Wenk-Fischer calls for strong cooperation between all parties involved in supplying the population with the goods they need: “Home-delivery and the collection of goods via Click&Collect while observing the necessary hygiene requirements form a stable supply infrastructure. Bricks-and-mortar retailers and e-commerce can work as partners to safely supply local needs. This is living and breathing omnichannel retail.” 

Online food retail: has its breakthrough come?

Many market participants expect these increased usage figures for online food retailing to continue after the coronavirus pandemic. If customers get used to the procedure and enjoy the benefits, online shopping behaviour is expected to stabilise, so the theory goes. That remains to be seen. It is also possible that after being isolated by the coronavirus consumers will once again value human contact at the counter or checkout in the supermarket, as the example of the “Chat Checkout” in Vlijmen in the Netherlands shows. 

There is no doubt that some market participants will be forced to rethink and review their ranges and working methods. Others may now get their chance to establish new concepts and approaches – whether analogue, digital or omnichannel. In any case, the sky is (almost) the limit for creative solutions. 

Author: Julia Pott

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: Toshiba demonstrates the future of shopping at EuroShop 2020...
13.02.2020   #self-checkout systems #Trade fair special EuroShop 2020

Toshiba demonstrates the future of shopping at EuroShop 2020

Toshiba spotlights innovations enabling retailers to create “moments that inspire”

Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions offers EuroShop 2020 attendees a look into the future via its ‘Frictionless Store’, Feb. 16-20, hall 6 booth C41 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Toshiba’s innovative solutions enable retailers to ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Successful local grocery store: Here is the recipe...
10.01.2020   #electronic shelf labels (ESL) #food retail

Successful local grocery store: Here is the recipe

Fast price adjustment with electronic shelf labels

Many small local grocery stores have difficulty getting a profitable business, but in the Danish cottage area between Nymindegab and Hvide Sande, the local Min Købmand store in Bjerregaard has found the recipe to be successful. Now, the ...

Thumbnail-Photo: “Knowledge4Retail”: Artificial intelligence in retail...
09.12.2019   #online trading #e-commerce

“Knowledge4Retail”: Artificial intelligence in retail

Web-based knowledge service for robots

The University of Bremen was extremely successful in the innovation competition “Artificial intelligence as a driving force in economically relevant ecosystems” by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The Bremen project ...

Thumbnail-Photo: A strong team for the POS
18.12.2019   #pos systems #pos software

A strong team for the POS

Founding of neoalto GmbH

POS TUNING, the specialist for the optimized presentation of products at the point of sale, announces the spin-off of the digital services division. The GmbH (LLC), founded in September as neoalto, has already made a name for itself on the market ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Effective and Independent
12.02.2020   #epos systems #cashpoints

Effective and Independent

Present and future of self-checkout

Better use of personnel, lowering overhead costs while still providing customers with a smooth and seamless shopping experience – that’s what every retailer strives to accomplish. For Thomas Dibbern, CEO of ALMEX GmbH, there is an ...

Thumbnail-Photo: ARNEG GROUP: from Sharing Avenue to Melting Pot...
09.12.2019   #refrigeration cabinets #Trade fair special EuroShop 2020

ARNEG GROUP: from Sharing Avenue to Melting Pot

The sharing road leads a long way

At the 20th edition of Euroshop, the Arneg Group is expressing its cosmopolitan soul on a kaleidoscopic stand that embodies the concept of sharing, interpreted as a virtuous fusion of competence, experience and vision capable of generating change ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Epta on the podium of the German Design Awards 2020...
10.12.2019   #design #refrigeration cabinets

Epta on the podium of the German Design Awards 2020

Excellent prodcut design with OutFit and Mozaïk, combining functionality and aesthetics

Epta wins the prestigious German Design Award for the second time, the award given to projects that merge functionality and utility, aesthetics and quality. The OutFit family under the Costan brand and Mozaïk under the Bonnet Névé ...

Thumbnail-Photo: The cash register capable of everything
18.02.2020   #epos systems #customer satisfaction

The cash register capable of everything

Flexible use from manned checkout to self-checkout point

Customers walking through the store with their own cash register on hand? This versatility of shop technology and shop fittings corresponds to the change in brick and mortar retail. MAGO wants to help retailers to meet this challenge with ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Light up the future with Posiflex at EuroShop 2020...
11.02.2020   #kiosk terminals #Trade fair special EuroShop 2020

Light up the future with Posiflex at EuroShop 2020

Serviced IoT solutions: personalized, flexible and connected

The Posiflex Group, a synergy of world-leading POS, kiosk, and industrial computing technologies — will bring its Serviced IoT solutions to EuroShop 2020, the leading Europe trade fair for the retail industry, from February 16th – 20th ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Self-service for faster checkout
01.01.2020   #epos systems #brick and mortar retail

Self-service for faster checkout

“Moments that Inspire”: Toshiba shows at EuroShop stationary as well as mobile solutions

In the future, there will be the Frictionless Store – no scanning, no hassle for the consumers. But consumers do not want to wait until this can become reality everywhere. The payment process should already be fast and convenient today.At ...

Supplier

MAGO S.A.
RUSIEC ALEJA KATOWICKA 119/121
05-830 Nadarzyn
Allgeier Enterprise Services
Allgeier Enterprise Services
Westerbachstr. 32
61476 Kronberg im Taunus
Adasys GmbH – a Poindus Company
Adasys GmbH – a Poindus Company
Max-Planck-Straße 10
70806 Kornwestheim
APG Cash Drawer (Germany)
APG Cash Drawer (Germany)
Leichtmetallstr. 22a
42781 Haan-Gruiten
Poindus HQ - Taiwan
Poindus HQ - Taiwan
5F., No.59, Ln. 77, Xing-Ai Rd.,Neihu Dist.
Taipei City 114
ARNEG S.p.A.
ARNEG S.p.A.
Via Venezia, 58
35010 Marsango di Campo San Martino/PD
ROQQIO Commerce Solutions GmbH
ROQQIO Commerce Solutions GmbH
Harburger Schloßstraße 28
21079 Hamburg
Burkhardt Leitner Modular Spaces GmbH
Olgastrasse 138
70180 Stuttgart
SALTO Systems GmbH
SALTO Systems GmbH
Schwelmer Str. 245
42389 Wuppertal