Online grocery shopping in COVID-19 outbreak

15 Sep 2020

By: B&Company Vietnam

Industry Reviews

Comments: No Comments.

The size of Vietnam’s e-commerce sector in 2018 was estimated at $8.06 billion, up 30% from the previous year, according to a white paper published by the Department of E-Commerce and Digital Economy of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The growth rate has been rising dramatically in the past three years, compared to 23% and 24% respectively in 2016 and 2017 (Nhandan, 2019). White Book stated that nearly 39.9 million Vietnamese consumers purchased consumer products online in 2018, contributing $1.2 million of sales of products.

The complex COVID-19 epidemic has caused a huge impact on people ‘s psychology, and has changed many Vietnamese consumers ‘ purchasing habits. Not only reduce traveling, Vietnamese citizens also avoid eating outside and going to malls or markets. Indeed, according to “An overview of COVID-19 outbreak affecting on Vietnamese social-economy” article of B&Company, 79% said COVID-19 had been affecting negatively to their daily routines. The number of visitors to shopping centers and supermarkets has fallen from 40-50% compared to before.  This results in a 40% decrease of sales at department stores. Even though the Vietnam Government has successfully managed to contain the outbreak domestically by May 2020, there are certain threats from the increasing number of imported cases from overseas passengers arriving in Vietnam. Both the government and businesses are encouraging people to increase online shopping in this sense, restricting the street to reduce the risk of infection. Ho Chi Minh City’s People’s Committee has also constantly broadcast the message “tell people to prioritize online shopping” in recent days. Companies are aggressively growing online shopping promotions to stimulate demand. On this occasion, a series of booming online grocery shopping services entered the market to compete with supermarket chains: 2 biggest ride-hailing platform Grabmart (Grab) and Be đi chợ (Be). Several services such as, NowFresh (developed from food delivery platform and LoMart (developed by Lozi which is considered as direct competitor of were launced in 2018.

LOTTE Mart supermarket chain reported that the number of orders via the website and Speed L application increased from 150-200% compared to regular days, doubling and tripling the supply of products allocated for the online section. In the same notion, statistics from Saigon Co.op, one of the market leaders in the supermarket business, showed shopping orders via the supermarket’s phone and website rose 10 times compared to weekdays, which caused frequent “network congestion” due to the sudden overloading of online transaction. During the period of only over 19 days from the beginning of March 2020 to 12 March 2020, Big C, another major supermarket chain, received more than 1,000 orders, which are projected to hit about 3,000 orders in March 2020; the growth rate is over 200% compared to that of February 2020 (CafeF, 2020).

According to B&Company’s survey on online grocery shopping conducted in May 2020 among 200 consumers, Vinmart, Co.op Mart & Lotte Mart are the most popular online grocery channels of supermarkets (83,8%, 72,5% and 66,% respectively); while Grab Mart is the most well-known among online shopping services (60,8%). 

BEAN Survey results demonstrate that online grocery shopping consumers mostly purchase food & drinks and personal care, with the highest proportion of 69,6% goes to dairy products. 46% of respondents spend below 300.000VND/time purchasing groceries online, which accounts for around 37.8% of total spending on groceries. Estimation by B&Company showed, the market size of 2019 online grocery shopping in Vietnam (via website/application of supermarkets/grocery delivery service) accounts for around $3.5 billion.

When selecting a website/application for online grocery shopping, consumers are mostly concerned about price and quality of products (73,5% and 70,6% respectively). Characteristics of online grocery shopping service is that when using the application, a series of food trading and shipping addresses, home delivery will display for customers to freely choose the location that best suits them. Each type of food is clearly listed. Food prices on these sites are not much different from the market price, but the quality is guaranteed. Buying and delivery times are also more flexible. Customers can choose the delivery time frame from 7:30 to 19:00. In less than 2 hours, the staff will deliver the pre-prepared items for guests to cook (Baodautu, 2019). Hence, most businesses select fast delivery to compete. Saigon Co.op has planned to coordinate the delivery channel personnel, ensuring home delivery time of 1-2 hours for orders placed by telephone and 24 – 48 hours for purchase orders on the electronic shopping page. On the other hand, GrabMart took advantage of the ecosystem inherent from the main fanpage of the Grab app, the system of partners, the brand influencers to put the GrabMart hashtag on posts, to attract attention and stimulate desire to exchange and discuss, and then try the user’s service. Meanwhile, Now is connecting with a large number of convenient retailers/grocery stores/supermarket chains from affordable to high-end. The biggest advantage is the fast delivery time with acceptable freight: 15,000VND/1.5km. Launched in 2015, stands out with the advantage of fast delivery, however, in COVID-19 season, the demand from users was high and therefore users responded to the delivery time longer than expected, and Chopp’s delivery fee was quite high compared to the common ground (Brands Vietnam, 2020).

According to the online survey on B&Company’s BEAN Survey platform, consumers were all satisfied with this smart shopping, however they are the least satisfied with the delivery fee (3.7 on the scale 1-5); 50% of the surveyed are concerned about the quality of fresh products the most and 60% highly advice on additional promotions and discounts for online purchasing channels.

83.5% out of over BEAN SURVEY PLATFORM 200 respondents claim that they will keep purchasing groceries online in future, and more than 40% prefer grocery online purchasing than offline. For this, it can be predicted that market share for online grocery shopping will be increasing steadily, while traditional offline markets and other shopping spots will still remain stable.

Duong Nguyen


  1. “Online glocery shopping” through the view of Social Listening by Brands Vietnam
  2. Bloom of “shopping for you” service due to COVID era by Dân trí
  3. Vietnam’s e-commerce market hits US$8 billion in 2018 by Nhân Dân$8-billion-in-2018.html
  4. A business highlight between COVID-19: The booming online glocery shopping service by CafeVN
  5. An overview of COVID-19 outbreak affecting on Vietnamese social-economy by Bean Survey
  6. White Book on Vietnam E-commerce by Ministry of Industry and Trade – Department of E-commerce and Digital Economy
  7. Online grocery shopping service by Báo Đầu tư

Leave a Reply