Saturday, November 27

From a Bee Village to a 7-Pound Onion: Online Deliveries Take a Bizarre Twist | Retail industry


SUBWAYMost online deliveries don’t come with a delivery driver health warning, but David Smith received one from a relieved courier who, upon delivering Smith’s box, suggested that the bees inside were “a bit angry.”

Instead of new clothes or groceries, Smith, 60, had taken to the web to buy a colony of bumblebees and a “villa” to house them. “I decided that my garden needed bees and the bees needed a home,” he says. “They have given me a summer of pleasure and I will do it again next year.”

From nightspots for wine, takeout and groceries to one-of-a-kind items like buying bees to stranded tourists buying a car, Guardian readers have been losing their inhibitions from online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic. It took eight years for online sales to double its share of retail spending to 20%, but within nine months that figure had touched 36% in 2020, although it has since settled at 26%.

What we buy is changing too, thanks to a new generation of on-demand grocery companies willing to bring alcoholic beverages and forgotten groceries to the front door. For some, shopping online may still mean weekly purchases, but for others it’s instant gratification at the touch of an app, and generally the difference is a matter of age.

An onion

Radio host Roman Kemp recently highlighted the generational divide on an episode of Celebrity Gogglebox. His father, Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet, was horrified to hear his son i paid £ 7 to have an onion delivered instead of pausing mid-cooking to go to the store, and “it didn’t even come in a bag!”

George, a 31-year-old civil servant from Reading, admits to using Deliveroo to obtain a six-pack of Pepsi and some stamps from his local BP workshop. “He wasn’t sick, just a bum,” he says.

The pandemic has given Deliveroo passengers some strange consumer perceptions. Rebecca, a 22-year-old graduate who transports food and groceries around Edinburgh, recently delivered 16 cans of sardines and a packet of straws, and left wondering “what was the customer doing with that”.

David, another Edinburgh-based Deliveroo courier, talks about orders for a single item, such as cigarettes or bottles of vodka. Other notable ones include four hot chocolates and a late night cry for two bottles of wine and some lemonade.

With restaurants and pubs closed, pandemic restrictions led to a takeout boom that has yet to lose steam. Last week, food delivery group Just Eat said orders increased 76% in the first six months of 2021. Deliveroo said its orders more than doubled and that its partnership with Greggs Bakery has also proven to be a big success.

At least 10 on-demand grocery startups, with relatively unknown names like Getir, Gorillas and Jiffy, are testing how much shoppers are willing to pay to avoid going to the stores.

Gorillas, which says its service is “faster than walking to the supermarket”, has a choice of 2,000 products and charges a £ 1.80 shipping fee. Eddie Lee, who runs his business in the UK, says the average spend is £ 20 to £ 25 for seven items. With deliveries made on bicycles, orders are limited to a maximum total weight of 10 kg, as “beyond that, we just don’t think cyclists are comfortable,” he says.

“We see orders where the customer has clearly already bought most of the food and just forgot a can of tomatoes. So you see tomatoes plus a bottle of red wine as a way to do it, you know, justifiable. “

But why don’t people just go to one of the UK’s over 40,000 convenience stores? “The biggest change I’ve seen is that customers realize they don’t have to fill their cupboards or refrigerators with food,” says Lee. “Once people get used to that idea, they divide that 120-pound grocery store into three or four 30-40 pound orders.”

A pregnancy test and a bottle of champagne.

The phenomenon of single item orders are not lost on Gorilla Riders. “I have seen people ask for a bottle of aloe vera (after sun) and in the order detail put ‘please don’t laugh at me because I fell asleep in the park, ‘”says Lee. Sometimes requests offer a fleeting glimpse into the most private moments. Lee gives another example, from a customer who asked for a pregnancy test and a bottle of champagne.

“We see a lot of orders for alcoholic beverages in the afternoons … Around 4: 00-4: 30 p. M., You see a big increase in bakery, meat and vegetables because people are picking up their children from school and they don’t have time to go to the grocery store. “

Restrictions, including main street closures and the need for vulnerable people to protect themselves, pushed households to be more connected out of necessity. IMRG, an online retail association, said that online sales in 2020 increased 36% over the previous year, when growth was 5% in 2018.

Going up smelling of roses

Readers told The Guardian that they had taken to the web to order industrial quantities of food products ranging from pickled onions to curry powder to panko breadcrumbs. Others thought even more. Paul Brooking of Chorley in Lancashire bought a ton of manure twice, suggesting it was proof that “you can buy almost anything on the web.”

Heather Storgaard, a South Queensferry-based charity worker, and her husband purchased a car from their local dealer’s website while stranded abroad. The vehicle was turned over while they were in quarantine after returning home and they were unable to drive it.

Andy Mulcahy, IMRG’s director of strategy and insights, says the conditions created by the pandemic accelerated pre-existing trends. “It’s not like no one has ever bought a car online before,” he says, it’s just that the reasons for doing so are growing.

Another influence on consumption is the problems that the pandemic and Brexit have caused in the supply chain, with retailers’ inventory levels falling to their lowest level since 1983. This is believed to be behind a large increase in Average spend on orders, from £ 80 a year ago to over £ 140 now.

“People buy things online because it’s hard to get them,” says Mulcahy, giving the example of garden furniture. “Things like garden benches or swing chairs just can’t be found, so when they come into existence, people just buy them.”

“You may have seen some strange behaviors develop in the last 18 months due to the strangeness of the situation,” he adds.


www.theguardian.com

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