Online Grocery Shopping

COVID-19 pandemic has already changed our lives completely. We have to avoid or change most of our day to day routine work and we have to get used to new ways and methods. Purchasing goods, essential items and food items has become one of the most tedious tasks for most of us. As a result many countries around the world as well as Sri Lanka is moving in to Online Grocery Shopping.

As we have already experienced, the supermarket chains in the country failed to meet the total online demand at the required speed. Therefore so many vendors have got in to the system by distributing certain items in various vehicles. Nowadays fishermen, lorries with coconuts, fruits or vegetables, three wheelers with bakery items, eggs, dry fish or spices have become a common sight. On top of that many food manufacturing companies have started their own distribution networks with their own or hired vehicle fleet. The latest trend is for intermediaries to buy certain items in bulk and distribute keeping a margin.

Is this system good enough or can it be improved?

Now that is the important question and I believe it needs to be improved and here is why.

As consumers do we have the access to our required goods on a particular day? As an example, I need to buy some coconuts and I’m not sure when the coconut lorry will be on my lane again. So I have to put all my other work aside and pay attention to the lane and the vehicles. As a consumer I don’t know what items will be sold on my lane on a particular day.

Let’s look at it from a vendor’s point of view. Let’s say I’m a coconut vendor. I decide to drive through lane A. Unfortunately another coconut vendor has covered that lane few hours ago. I don’t get any sales. I have to waste fuel and drive somewhere else without knowing for sure if there will be any demand.

Now let’s see how this can affect the government and authorities. In the current situation it’s important to the authorities to know which vehicle is doing what in a particular area. Also they need to know whether they have approval to travel, how far those vehicles have traveled, what are the areas they have covered, who are the people traveling in those vehicles. In the current system none of this information is available and as a result police and armed forces have to keep on checking everything.

It is clear that there are many weaknesses in the system. Question is what can be done to improve the system.

Answer is a centralized tracking system which can be accessed through a mobile app. This can be either a stand alone system or connected to the Global Positioning System (GPS). These apps are readily available and there are many companies currently using them to track their distribution vehicles and drivers which is called as fleet management systems. Let’s take PickMe as an example. PickMe is a mobile app. Consumers has the access to check the availability of vehicles in their area. Drivers have access to see where the customers are. PickMe Company has access to check where their drivers are, who is on duty at what time, how many rides they have completed, which vehicle is going out of the grid etc. Everyone has all the information they required and as a result the process is smooth and efficient.

Just imagine the same technology being used to centralize the grocery delivery network in the country. That can solve many problems and make the system more efficient and effective. It will be one centralized system where

  1. Vendors can register by providing their information, vehicle information and category of delivery items.
  2. Consumers can register to make orders, track what is available in the vicinity and to track delivery
  3. Authorities can track vehicle movements, track any kind of goods scarcity in a particular area, track any over pricing and to identify any unauthorized movements.

The required technology to develop such system is readily available. An electronic tracking system connected to a mobile app can do the job.

This can also be used to track movements of a Corona virus infected people who were working on grocery delivery as well to certain extend. It can help to identify their close contacts with customers for the required time period and to take necessary action.

Online Grocery shopping for essential items as well as non-essential items is becoming mainstream worldwide as well as in Sri Lanka. It will not be practical for us to go around buying things for a very long time. It is also important to track the vendors and their activities to ensure social safety and security.

Now most of you must be thinking the capital investment made on such technology will be a waste once things get back to normal. Well in one side we actually have no idea what normal will be in the future. On the other side this kind of a systematic operation will make life easy for people. After all grocery shopping is not something we really enjoy or want to spend our precious time on. It’s not part of the lifestyle.

If there is a streamlined system for online grocery shopping, it is going to be there to stay no matter the circumstances.Technology is an amazing tool. World is changing everyday with technology. Visit my blog to know more exciting uses of technology in finance sector.

2 thoughts on “Online Grocery Shopping

  • April 30, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    Good food for though. As you have suggested, a centralised system to notice and track the door to door vendors is essential. I too would certainly agree with an existing system as the PickMe app can be used with a greater success, at least a quick fix for the current issue at hand.

    • April 30, 2020 at 4:00 pm

      Hi Clive.

      Thank you for your comment and totally agree with you. The system can be improved with a little bit of effort.


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