Shopping fresh food service booms

Ordering a taxi, booking a train ticket or paying utility bills, are made super simple thanks to improving technology.

Such high-tech has led to a rapid change of habits by many people who find ordering online helps them juggle their busy lifestyles.

Thirty-year-old Nguyen Thuy Mai, returns home from work at 7.30pm, often the same time as her grocery order turns up.

Pork, vegetables and all the ingredients she needs to cook dinner arrive at her doorstep in Ha Noi‘s Cau Giay District and she hasn’t set foot inside a supermarket.

For the relatively small charge of between VND25,000 (US$1.1)to VND50,000($2.2), she never needed to.

Pham Thi Le, 65, on the other hand has a different way to shop, believing ordering online is lazy.

“Why don’t they just spend less than 30 minutes to select what they want in the nearest market for dinner,” she said.

“Is that too much for them?”

Maybe it is generational, or perhaps Le’s daily routine allows her to shop first hand whereas Mai’s doesn’t.

Either way, personal shopping, particularly grocery shopping, is becoming more and more popular with local start-ups competing for a slice of the pie.

Partnering with supermarkets, shops, and delivery bikes, start-ups develop fresh food shopping apps that enable customers to choose the food they want from the supermarket catalogues or from the list of food items in shops. The service will help buy the selected items and bring them to the customer's destination within a few hours.

bTaskee, a company which provides domestic help in Viet Nam, recently surveyed more than 100,000 of their customers. The company found more than 20 per cent needs the service.

And they believe this number will grow.

World Bank predicts by 2026, 26 per cent of Vietnamese will be middle class, double the number today. As a result, more and more people will turn to technology.

Already in Ha Noi and HCM City, there is stiff competition in shopping apps.

Faly Mart, Citiship, Alocho, Suma.vn, Chopp.vn, disieuthi.vn, Now and LosMart to name but a few. And Grab is getting in on the act as well, launching a similar service called GrabAssistant.

This month start-up HeyU launched a multi-service platform including buying groceries in HCM City after two years working as platform connecting shippers and sellers in Ha Noi.

Nguyen Minh Truong, founder of Chopp, told Viet Nam News: "Shopping-for-customer is big and until now no one can say they have cornered the market.”

According to Truong, food delivery presents unique challenges compared to the delivery of other goods, such as clothes and footwear. Perishable items require stricter delivery times which meant many big delivery firms failed to recognise the market’s potential before.

So Truong thinks the quality of the service will be key to keeping the customers. Chopp, which partners with 50 supermarkets and shops in HCM City and serves 11,000 transactions per month, is proud of its fast delivery in one hour.

Seeing the potential, not only the start-ups, two big supermarkets of Vinmart, Lotte have poured money in their own apps of Adayroi and SpeedL respectively to serve the online market. They deliver to online customers within two hours and the service is free for orders over VND150,000($6.4) for SpeedL and VND200,000 ($8.6) for Adayroi.

“Online supermarkets help me not waste time queuing in crowded markets, especially during the rush hour plus I don’t need to pay the delivery fee,” Nguyen Minh Ngoc a regular online customer of Lotte Mart says.

Two years ago, the first ever service in Vietnam, the greenbag.vn closed due to difficulties. However, it seems this did not deter other companies throwing their hats into the ring.

In July, market research company Kantar Worldpanel Viet Nam announced Viet Nam, whose population of more than 90 million, has the 14th highest number of internet users in the world with 66 per cent of its population online.

According to a report by Google and Temasek, the of the Vietnamese e-commerce market will increase by 5.3 times in the next seven years from US$2.8 billion in 2018 to $15 billion in 2025.

There are no guarantees as to what exactly the future holds, but one thing is for sure, it will all be very, very different.

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