Tough competition in online grocery market with new entrants

by AZALEA AZUAR 

THE online grocery market ecosystem is now a competitive one with big brands like Capital A Bhd and Grab Holdings Ltd (enhanced through its acquisition of Jaya Grocer Holdings Sdn Bhd) entering the scene. 

On Jan 31 this year, Grab completed its acquisition of Jaya Grocer, with which it would be able to have more control over the supply chain and offer more personalised deals and promotions. 

Additionally, Jaya Grocer has a wider selection of goods and offerings against smaller minimarts and grocery chains, which would discourage customers from changing vendors for their groceries. 

Grab could also look into its growth through Jaya Grocer’s brick-and-mortar locations, in tandem with more consumers who are now more confident with doing physical shopping. 

Meanwhile, AirAsia Group has also rebranded into Capital A in response to its diverse business portfolio as it seeks to become more than an airline brand. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the nature of how the group operates and it aims to become a “one-stop digital travel and lifestyle services group”. 

Earlier last year, the group launched its online grocery platform AirAsia Fresh, which utilises its own logistics venture Teleport. 

It allows customers to plan their purchase and schedule delivery based on their preferred time. 

Apart from the bigger entrants, local start-up MyGroser was established in 2020, just before the emergence of Covid-19 when online grocery services were high in demand. 

It brings competition in the market with its offers of non-traditional but high in demand products such as herbs for soups, meat cuts that are not commonly found, organic meats and vegetables, and packaged options that support customers’ lifestyles. 

An early player in the market is Indonesian online grocery platform HappyFresh, established in 2015. 

Its services include delivering groceries to mass customers and pantry supplies for corporate clients, as well as dispatching personal shoppers to select fresh groceries and deliver them to customers on the same day. 

CEO Gullem Segarra told The Malaysian Reserve that HappyFresh is still able to stand out from the crowd with its free-delivery and affordable prices. 

“With HappyFresh Supermarket, we guarantee the ideal value-for-money proposition and quality throughout our stores. 

“With free delivery, daily sales and fresh produce, we stand for affordable yet high-quality online grocery shopping,” he said. The platform also attracts customers with its environmental, social and governance priority by partnering with local food banks to reduce wastage in food and plastic.

“Customers are also encouraged to do their part by choosing the ‘GoGreen’ packaging option during checkout.

“These all act as small steps in a much larger plan to enable a highly sustainable ecosystem,” Segarra explained. 

However, the Covid-19 pandemic had delayed the shipping of fresh produce due to movement restrictions and in turn, online grocers faced storage shortages. 

To overcome this issue, HappyFresh listened to its customers and monitored several suppliers to ensure the quality of their produce. 

“We evaluate every suggestion from consumers and try to always update and develop various features that can provide convenience and satisfaction for our users, such as Express Delivery and the HappyFresh Reward Programme, where consumers can collect points to be used as discounts on their next purchases,” he added. 

To up the ante, the platform also has plans to expand its dark stores this year to more than 100 in the South-East Asian region to cope with the increasing demand. 

This year, it launched the Happy Fresh Supermarket to extend fresh and dry grocery accessibility by significantly growing its dark store presence in the region. 

“A year after the pandemic, HappyFresh was able to operate in a pressure-free environment. 

“The company has doubled its fleet size, attracted new customers and improved services in a short period of time. However, it is critical to note that the pandemic does not appear to be fading away,” Segarra said. 

Additionally, he believed that HappyFresh will unlock additional operational efficiency, higher service levels and quality controls by continuing to focus on providing a convenient and safe service. 

“We want our customers to get all the groceries they need at the freshest condition and at even faster speed, ensuring an effortless online grocery shopping experience,” Segarra said.