Australia’s online grocery industry sees boom amid Covid

Insight Online News

Canberra, Oct 2 : The harsh reality of millions of Australians being in lockdown for months due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be a boon for the nation’s online grocery industry, according to a research company.

During the pandemic, Australians have demonstrated growing trust in the delivery services, with online grocery sales expected to increase by 46.2 per cent this year, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday citing the company IBISWorld as saying.

Panda Fresh, a new offshoot business of food delivery platform Hungry Panda, was created after Sydney, Australia’s biggest city, became the epicentre of the nation’s latest outbreak and went into lockdown in late June.

Panda Fresh now serves up fast home deliveries to Sydney residents in almost every suburb.

“So far we have roughly 30 staff in Sydney. Basically, if you place an order in the morning, you can get your delivery in the afternoon. And if the order is placed in CBD areas, you can receive it in two hours,” Panda Fresh’s marketing manager Adam Liu told Xinhua.

Liu said the systematic management of goods, warehousing and distribution ensured the team could handle around 500 orders a day, 400 more than the company’s humble beginnings.

Australia’s supermarket giant Woolworths Group is also ending its 2021 fiscal year on a high thanks to the online sales boom.

In a full-year profit and dividend statement, Woolworths said its Australian Food’s eCommerce sales soared by 74.7 per cent compared to the previous year and its online sales jumped 58 per cent to A$5.6 billion ($4 billion).

However, the surging demand in online shopping is bringing challenges to some sections of the industry struggling with the workload.

Professor Gary Mortimer, a retail expert from the Queensland University of Technology, told Xinhua that the decentralised picking system used by most Australian supermarkets and increasing demand were the main difficulties.

In response, Woolworths and its supermarket rival Coles are introducing automated fulfilment centres, which means goods will be simply distributed after arriving at centers, and mostly relying on robots to do the grocery picking.

Meanwhile, Mortimer believes the shopping habits developed throughout the past 18 months of regular lockdowns will continue even when the pandemic has ended.

“If you’ve set up an online account for your favorite supermarket brands, you’ve entered your credit card details, your delivery address, you’ve created a shopping list … so over a period of time habits form.”


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