The last few years have seen a revolutionary overhaul of ecommerce food sales.
Although COVID-19 heavily influenced the sector, the online food industry is accelerating at rapid rates and is on track to be worth over £110 billion by the end of 2021.
Through convenience, a shift in consumer behaviour and external factors that none of us expected, restaurants, cafés, supermarkets and just about every other food establishment that you can imagine has had to adapt the way they operate to suit the online delivery market.
Increasing numbers of inventions and technologies are being created to make the entire process more efficient for food businesses and customers. So, it’s safe to say that with the ever-changing landscape, restaurants must sit up and take note of the industry’s future direction, as well as staying abreast with current trends and interests.
With that said, let’s take a closer look at the industry of ecommerce food sales, its motivators and its potential future.
What Fuelled the Food Industry Online Sales Growth?
Many factors have contributed to the rapid increase in online food sales in the last few years, some in the consumers’ hands, some out of anybody’s control.
Online ordering and delivery is sky-rocketing in a way that nobody imagined and it is the fastest-growing niche within the food industry. The annual growth rate of the industry as a whole is 3.7%, whereas delivery and online ordering have an annual growth rate of 15-20%. Impressive, right?
Let’s have a look at some of the key reasons why commerce sales have boomed:
Impact of COVID on the Food Industry
The biggest impact on ecommerce food sales was, of course, the global pandemic. Left with no other option, food establishments had to adapt to the COVID restrictions by renting commercial kitchens and taking their offerings online to keep trading.
Restaurant closures and mandatory isolations drove extraordinary numbers of hungry customers to food delivery apps such as UberEats and Deliveroo to enjoy their favourite restaurant meals at home in exchange for a seat in their favourite eateries.
Let’s tuck into some stats to see exactly how much the pandemic influenced ecommerce food delivery orders. Coronavirus restrictions began in the UK in the last two weeks of March 2020, and the percentage change in monthly internet food sales value since the start of the pandemic is as follows:
|Month||% change in online food sales|
Living in a Digital Age
Even before COVID, the growth of ecommerce food delivery and online grocery shopping was transparent, a lot of which we are crediting to the rise of the digital age.
Online shopping spans far beyond the food industry, commerce platforms now reign supreme for most sectors. From retail sales, pharmaceuticals or booking tradesmen, even hospitals are starting to shift their booking systems online, millennials and gen-zers are influencing the digital landscape, and businesses are now understanding the need to adjust their operations to match this online evolution, especially the food and beverage industry.
A Change in Consumer Preferences
When external factors such as technology, lifestyles or global pandemics advance and adapt, customer preferences will also change over time, and it is down for businesses to echo this evolution.
Customers now prefer the online ordering approach and prefer to order a product online and wait for delivery instead of making their way to the shops., this is largely down to the convenience of lifestyle and a much broader offering of products or services.
Using mobile apps such as Deliveroo, UberEats and JustEats is the norm among restaurant customers, and food businesses are using dark kitchens and delivery kitchen rentals to accommodate this shift in consumer behaviour. Roughly 37% of restaurants worldwide now operate online, and approximately 32% accept mobile payments.
The primary customer for food delivery apps is the digital-driven Millenials, and more than 70% of online delivery orders come from the 21 to 26 age group.