Safety and convenience the order of the day

Megalah getting her groceries delivered to her home in Taman Palm Grove, Klang. — Photos: SHARIL ROSLI & LOW LAY PHON/The Star

LESS hassle and most of all, safe – that is what most consumers think about online shopping these days.

More people are turning to this method of buying their fresh produce and groceries mainly for these two reasons, even if it means paying higher prices.

They need not dress up, wear the face mask and drive to the market where they are required to queue up, get their temperature checked, and scan the MySejahtera app.

Since the implementation of the movement control order in March last year, the growing popularity of online shopping has helped to keep prices competitive.

Klang Consumer Association president Devadass Anjan said the MCO has accelerated the online shopping trend, with many households embracing e-commerce.

Lim says online purchases are better for large quantities of groceries.Lim says online purchases are better for large quantities of groceries.

He said the association’s ad hoc studies showed that more people were now more comfortable getting their groceries online.

Most households, he noted, were making online orders for vegetables, meat, fruits and spices at least once a fortnight.

“Our research has shown growing confidence in online grocery shopping. The online business is bound to flourish thanks to this,” Devadass added.

Owner and founder of online grocery business Kampong Grocer, Vicnes Munesparan, 30, who operates from a neighbourhood in Palm Grove, Klang said online grocery shopping was the new norm as more people wanted to stay safe by staying home.

Many households in the Klang Valley have turned to shopping for their daily necessities online amid the pandemic.Many households in the Klang Valley have turned to shopping for their daily necessities online amid the pandemic.

“Our online business that began last November, has seen much demand. We have a bricks and mortar store in Lorong Setaka where supplies are kept.

“We find the government’s stay-at-home order has driven e-commerce, and the volume of business is increasing,” he said.

Vicnes, who studied aircraft maintenance, runs the online business with co-partner Meggala Morgan, 30.

He said six months ago, online orders were limited to the Palm Grove neighbourhood and areas within a 5km radius of his shop, but now they were coming from as far as Shah Alam and Petaling Jaya, even Bangsar and Setapak in Kuala Lumpur.

Grocery delivery rider Kesava Raj Thanabalan, 29, who delivers goods from Klang to Shah Alam, said he started with only five orders a day but now has an average of 15 orders daily.

Consumers’ views

Megalah Soomoo, 53, who is a frontliner with a hectic schedule at a government hospital, said she switched to buying groceries online as it was convenient, time-saving, safe and above all, there were discounts.

Meanwhile, Lim Kar Wing, 25, has taken over shopping duties for her family of eight by turning to online platforms.

The Ara Damansara resident said she would usually check all the grocery shopping sites for available delivery slots before placing her orders.

“We usually buy in large quantities, so it is easier to order online and have it delivered.

“Otherwise, it would be a hassle for only two members of the family to go to the supermarket. Also, we can limit our exposure to the virus,” she said.

On the quality of the produce, Lim said most items delivered were fresh.

Vicnes (right) and his worker Kesava Raj packing orders for delivery at the Kampong Grocer shop in Taman Palm Grove,Klang.Vicnes (right) and his worker Kesava Raj packing orders for delivery at the Kampong Grocer shop in Taman Palm Grove,Klang.

“There have been instances where the products were not as fresh as we would have liked, but we made do.

“Some of the companies also do not update if certain products are out of stock or if there is only a particular brand available,” she said, adding that the downside, however, did not negate the convenience and safety of shopping online.

While 48-year-old Ee Jia Peng has been consistently ordering her groceries online since the start of the pandemic last year, she feels there is insufficient infrastructure on the ground to support growing demand.

“Most retailers have user-friendly websites where it is easy to view what is available and to place orders.

“But there does not seem to be enough manpower when it comes to deliveries as the wait time has increased since the pandemic,”

the Kuala Lumpur resident said, adding that this was more prevalent during the MCO period.

“At the moment there are no delivery slots available for next month on a site I am on regularly.

“Perhaps these supermarkets were overwhelmed by orders each time a new MCO is announced as people are on panic-buying mode.

“Hopefully, they will be able to increase the number of drivers, vehicles or personal shoppers to keep up with the demand,” she said.

Ee, who lives with her husband and elderly mother, opted for online grocery shopping to reduce the risk of infection.

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