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Challenges Faced by Online Fruits & Vegetables Distributors & How they Overcome?

After vegetables and cereals, fruits are considered as the widely consumed food sources globally. Just like vegetables, even fruits are power-packed with essential nutrients, polyphenols, anti-oxidants, flavonoids and minerals. Consuming a bowl of fresh fruits regularly not only provides essential nutrients to the body but even helps in promoting the overall well-being of an individual. Even if you are not keen to eat fresh fruit in the raw form, try to experiment with it other forms. For instance, you can prepare fresh juices, jams and various desserts from fruits, which are both healthy and tasty. For this, it is essential to purchase fresh Fruits and vegetables from distributors.

A few years back, people prefer going to the supermarket or a local grocery store for purchasing fruits and vegetables. However, the COVID pandemic has changed the scenario completely. Of late, consumers are looking for online vendors for buying everything right from groceries, fruits to electronic items. Though the pandemic is losing its grip globally, people remain stick to their habit of placing orders from online vendors. Easy access to internet, delivery at the doorsteps, time and energy saving and cost-effective are few main reasons increasing the popularity of online shopping worldwide. So, no wonder if online Fruits and vegetables distributors are gaining traction even the pandemic is over.

For consumers online shopping is fast and convenient but the grass is not green for the other party. Online distributors come across a lot of issues while conducting their online businesses smoothly. These issues are as follows:

  1. Timely Delivery of Products: Delivering products timely is one of the biggest challenges faced by online distributors. The reasons are two: first, they deal with perishable items. Therefore, distributors are under immense pressure to deliver the product timely so that consumers can use them. Second, how fast a distributor can deliver products becomes a deciding factor for majority of consumers. The faster the delivery, the better would be the customer retention ratio. To beat the competition, online fruits and vegetable distributors not only delivering the product timely but sometimes even offer free delivery to continue making profits in the business model.

  2. Stiff Competition: Like every other e-commerce retailer, even online fruits and vegetable distributors face a tough competition. The vendors, to increase their customer base, are ready to sell other items like groceries so that customers get one stop solution for their food related needs. E-retailers with financial backing can offer huge discounts and expand their product line at any point in time. But small distributors bear the brunt and need to run their business with small profit margins. Due to small profit margins, they are neither in the position to offer huge discounts nor can expand their product line.

  3. Infrastructure Issues: Sound supply chain infrastructure is the key to success for online business. Adequate infrastructure helps retailers to run their businesses smoothly and meet small and large demands of customers timely. It is impossible to expand the customer base or build a sound reputation in the marketplace without maintaining the sound infrastructure. This is one issue which not only small-sized online fruits and vegetables distributors faced but even large-scale e-retailers have not remained unaffected with it. Large retailers find it hard to maintain the large scale of operation whereas small retailers are unable to expand due to financial issues.

  4. Packaging Issues: When you deal with perishable products, packaging plays an important role in keeping an item fresh for a long duration. Without right packaging, it is not possible to maintain the shelf life of any product. And for right packaging, distributors need to shell huge amount of money which eventually cut their profit margins. So, along with timely delivery, distributors need to pay equal attention of the packaging of the product so that customers get fresh product always.

  5. Technological Issues: You may lose valuable date of your orders and customers in case any technological glitch arrives. Thus, online fruits and vegetables distributors need to invest heavily in the technology for keeping the system working without any downtime. With technology, the recurrent expenses and employment of trained manpower are indispensable. All these factors increase the total supply chain cost thereby reducing the profit margins.

So, now the question arises are online distributors able to meet these challenges successfully? What steps they should take to overcome these challenges? Some of the online fruits and vegetable distributors, who have faced similar issues in the Mexican market, emerged victorious after taking the following measures:

  1. The first step they took was limiting their delivery area. Due to small infrastructure and less manpower, they have restricted their delivery area. This helps them in meeting demand of one area of customers successfully. Once they are in the position to expand their market base, they targeted another area. The moot point is they target one area at one point in time and then catch the pace. This saves their cost and energy initially.

  2. In one area, they have tied up with scores of fruits and vegetable retailers, which were in a better position for offering fast doorstep delivery to customers. This particular measure helps them beating the competition by gaining customers’ loyalty through timely delivery.

  3. The fruits and vegetables distributors working on the small scale invested their seed capital in the technology and infrastructure. They believe that these two elements are pillars of online business. Once, they gained hold on these two elements, it has become easier for them to run business successfully and expand with time.

  4. Lastly, they have recruited limited but trained manpower, who know the basics of technology and have already hold expertise in their niche. This reduced their training cost in the long run.

  5. Instead of offering regular discounts, distributors played smartly and they offer strategic discounts to customers. For instance, they offered discount in case the order amount exceeds a particular amount, they give attractive discount when any customer refers another customer and he started purchasing from them and so on.

To conclude, fruits and vegetables distributors conducting business online faced a lot of challenges during the pandemic. But someone has rightly said that “necessity is the mother of invention”. These tough times teach them a lot of things which they have managed the successfully to a great extent.

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