As the Internet continues to evolve, so does usage by consumers who wish to buy food online. The world’s largest Internet grocery distribution system is in Britain. In the single largest warehouse space designated for this service, over one million food items are stashed in delivery baskets every day. According to theEconomist,the tonnage represents five per cent of all national grocery sales. Business continues to grow at a rate of 21 per cent annually and is expected to double by 2014.
One might assume that a lightly populated province such as Alberta would not attract a distribution system for online grocery shopping, but a quick search reveals that it is alive and well even in the Prairie provinces. The list is endless and you can order food from anywhere in the world, much of it delivered to your door by Federal Express.
If you want fresh produce in the Edmonton area, have a peek at www.eatlocalfirst.com. If a full grocer is required then Canadian shoppers can try www.online-grocer.ca or www.canadagrocer.ca. The most fun I had searching was at www.e-zgrocer.com, which serves many of the small centres in Saskatchewan. That to me was proof that the logistics of delivering from online grocery orders can be overcome and that demand is strong for this type of service.
It is most certainly true that not everyone can enjoy delivery because of their location, but the applications are so diverse. From the parent who is too tired to shop for a young family to the senior citizen who just can’t get there or the person who just wants a little more variety in the food that they eat, online
TheInternetcanbea placewhereyoubuy whatyourneighbour producesorevensell whatitisthatyou produceorcreate.
shopping can offer it all. In the comfort of your home or from your office, you can place an order and in some cases have it delivered on the same day. As a consumer you now have access to the foods of the world.
Buying from farmers
Complementary to online shopping for a full grocery order is buying direct from Alberta farmers, ranchers, greenhouses, milk processors and flower growers. The Internet can be a place where you buy what your neighbour produces or even sell what it is that you produce or create.
Family farms that offer specialized products that can be ordered online offer sites that help you to gain an appreciation for and learn what is new in the world of food production, creation and management. There are innovative marketing ideas and enticing recipes. Shopping within the province and even within the country also supports and strengthens the rural economy.
There are many sites – a quick search can take you across Alberta on a delicious culinary tour without leaving the comfort of your seat. Look for cheese, yogurt, honey, sweets and desserts, fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, condiments, grains and grain products, preserves, eggs, baking, herbs, pasta and more.
For the shopaholic, shopping for groceries or an eating experience does not have to stop at food. While you are online, look for beverages and flowers, tablecloths, music, deck chairs, dishes and cutlery. The joy of cooking is as much in the found pleasure of shopping and online shopping could be an option.
Most certainly the statistics support the growth of online shopping and as the population ages; this may be a service that you wish to provide in your community. The applications are endless and the idea of shopping for grocery online puts a new spin on the term “fast food.”
Brenda Schoepp is a market analyst and the owner and author of Beeflink, a national beef cattle market newsletter. A professional speaker and industry market and research consultant, she ranches near Rimbey, Alberta. [email protected]