Such is beneficial, at first glance, the niche of the grocery market, such as home delivery of products, has not yet been mastered in Russia. Yes, and we can say that investors are in no hurry to invest in grocery online stores. The reasons are commonplace - huge investments in the organization of this business are not justified, the financial result is minimal.
Upon closer inspection, only five players were discovered in the capital market, who were seriously involved in distance selling foodstuffs and who were able to offer an online buyer an assortment in excess of at least five thousand items. They can be divided into two groups. Firstly, these are online “applications” to real trading networks - “The Seventh Continent”, “Platypus” and “Yum-yum”. Secondly, distance merchants in their pure form, without offline stores. These include the “Basket” and “Service 77” projects.
Unlike any other remote store that can be organized without serious investments (just buy a standard “engine” for an online store, hire couriers, and you can even work without renting a warehouse), online grocery trading requires a different approach. First, logistics can not be managed without both logistics and transport. Special transport will be required, which should not only be closed and roomy enough, but also have thermal boxes to maintain the quality of the goods. For the delivery of orders, you don’t even use the services of private drivers here - only your own fleet, and not just a fleet, but preferably consisting of specialized cars, which are expensive. Moreover, in order to serve at least a hundred customers a day, you need to have 10-15 cars.
Secondly, you need your own warehouse. To successfully compete with ordinary stores in terms of assortment, you need to keep several thousand items in stock.
And finally, provisionmasters cannot do without the standard “engine” for the online store. Ideally, their IT solution should integrate an online store, an order and procurement processing system, a warehouse (goods reservation, sorting, order picking, etc.) and fleet management into a single information whole.
Having appreciated all these efforts, we can conclude that it is much easier to organize several real grocery stores than one virtual one.
Another fact that does not speak in favor of grocery online is the inability to offer customers low prices. For the reasons mentioned above, the capital food managers incur such operating expenses that they are not able to significantly interrupt the price offer of ordinary food retail, and in some cases do not even try to do it.
It would be reasonable to assume that the "Internet applications" to ordinary retail chains have a head start in this business, since in this case the delivery service is practically free of charge from the "parent" company, and warehouses, an established procurement system and a rich assortment are available. The network itself wins, the emergence of new options at the store only contributes to increased customer attachment to it.
But here, not everything is simple. Launching an online store requires the creation of a separate company from the distribution network. And at the same time, the retailer does not have to rely on large volumes of sales. For example, at the Seventh Continent, which has been offering home delivery service since 2002, only about one percent of customers use this service. And such an indicator is considered very good.
Ramstore launched a similar service several years ago, but the project was not interesting to customers, and it soon had to be curtailed.
Somewhat apart is the Utkonos network, which enjoys the support of the Moscow government. The points of sale of this unusual player in the retail system are not at all the usual supermarkets, supermarkets or hypermarkets. The buyer, instead of walking around the trading floor among the shelves stuffed with goods, carries out the order through a special terminal, after which he receives “from the warehouse” a ready-made “basket”. Attaching an online store and delivery service to such a sales technology was not very difficult from a technical point of view. Not surprisingly, the Utkonos via the Internet carries out about 15% of all orders.
In general, it can be stated that the efforts of networkers in the field of food delivery so far, for the most part, are work for the future and do not bring them better financial performance.
Even worse is the online stores that do not have their own outlets in real life. According to many players in this market, the client has not yet matured psychologically, and sometimes is not technologically ready to use the service.
In most cases, a domestic consumer is not able to sit down at a computer and choose what is required - he needs to walk around the store and watch. Why, for example, do self-service stores have such an advantage over counter sales? Because buyers can take the goods, touch them, compare. The buyer, who sluggish the goods in hand, is already 20-30% ready to buy it.
Alas, in the online trading of the buyer, the goods are not even separated by the counter, but by a huge distance. This drawback does not particularly harm the distance trading of books and discs, since their quality can be more or less adequately evaluated at a distance. In extreme cases, the goods can be discarded and taken back to the warehouse. Moreover, the goods from transportation will not lose their consumer properties. But the products, especially perishable there, can not be taken here. That is why all over the world the volume of online trade in non-food products is two to three times more than food.
What are the prospects for existing players in the segment? If it’s not always possible to attract consumers with low prices, you should probably rely on the practical usability of the service. But virtual stores have problems with this. Firstly, a lot of time is spent on the first checkout (at least 30 minutes). Some require pre-registration, receipt of PIN codes, numbers.
Secondly, difficulties arise with the choice of goods, you do not immediately understand what is where. In some stores, the menu is built on the principle of a mixed search - by product category and manufacturer, which greatly complicates the choice.
Thirdly, there are restrictions on the minimum cost of procurement. Which is very inconvenient, because you have to buy products in small wholesale.
Fourthly, at some stores the logistics service is “lame”, which translates into useless and numerous calls from operators to the client to specify the time, address, order composition, etc.
Fifth, far from all market participants are able to provide the maximum delivery speed (within three hours).
And finally, couriers do not offer the customer to check the order set, which often does not match yours (some items are missing, some are replaced without your knowledge).
But despite all the difficulties and problems of the online grocery business, the players in this segment are determined and optimistic. They intend in the end to accustom the consumer to their service. And in the future, when the process goes, expect a good profit.
Based on an article by Olga Adamenko for the Business Magazine
* The article is more than 8 years old. May contain outdated data