When the outbreak of Covid-19 started there was panic in the supermarkets and people stockpiled and hoarded as if food was going to run out. It hasn’t of course, and just a couple of weeks in and already the restrictions on the numbers of products any one person can buy are slowly being lifted. This is largely in part to the hard working and largely low paid staff who are working tirelessly to keep shelves stocked, deliveries on the roads, and people fed.
It is, however, still virtually impossible to get a Click’n’Collect slot, let alone a home delivery. But there is an upside to this: Small local producers and retailers who can offer a home delivery service are finding a place out with their otherwise sometimes very niche markets. Wholesalers, who have seen a downturn in orders from their normal customers, such as restaurants and pubs, are looking to supply individual consumers. They already have the vans and drivers, they just now have to make more elaborate journeys to more locations. Good planning and offering a three day delivery (as in sometime in the next three days) allows these trips to made in the most efficient way.
My local butchers is delivering meat packs, minimum order £50. Our local fruit and veg wholesaler is delivering veg boxes and trays of eggs, as well as some other staples as available.
Coffee companies are advertising on the internet as delivering smaller quantities, moving from their cafe/restaurant/retail markets into direct to the consumer. Slowly, over the last week, I am seeing more and more companies making the most of the situation and marketing themselves online for these types of deliveries.
I’ve found an organic farm near my mum that can deliver a veg box to her, so from a distance of over 600 miles I have organised a local delivery for a women with no internet and no means of doing this for herself.
But, they are still missing the huge untapped market of self-isolating and shielding people who don’t have access to the internet, and perhaps cannot rely on relatives to do this for them. How can these businesses make a difference to those people, and how can those people make a difference to those businesses? Perhaps there could be a council led initiative to provide company names and phone numbers on a register available in a leaflet delivered to these vulnerable people? I don’t know, I don’t have the answer. But my mother was so excited to here she was getting a fresh seasonal veg box today you would have thought it was Christmas. A purchase made in Edinburgh, helping a small farm based company, as well as a shielded person, in Suffolk.
Hopefully, the companies now turning to individuals, when we go back to whatever will become the new normal, will continue to offer this service and not revert to trade only. Hopefully, the new buyers of this produce will keep their orders up and not resort to going back to the big supermarkets for all their groceries and good, but spread the love around a little more. This will benefit so many isolated people who struggle to get to and from the supermarkets, as well as the businesses that struggle to find customers.
It is a case of matching the service supply to the customer demand, which is all it ever had been. I think though that people, and businesses, have got a little lazy and shortsighted. Perhaps sometimes we need to remember to look outside the box and explore new avenues, and we are now re-learning the benefits of not putting all your eggs in the one basket, as a business and as consumers.
The big supermarkets thought it was Christmas, they made more money in the last few weeks than they probably made in December. Now is the time to spread a little love, spread a little money around, and save a few of the smaller companies and suppliers.
Hopefully, more small businesses will survive if they have consumer support. We don’t know what normal is going to look like, but we do have the opportunity to help shape it, even from our couches and our home office desks. Now, more than ever, the way the world works can be re-written and a new future is quite literally in every single person’s own hands.
Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives.
Stay home, order local, save livelihoods.