What's Bothering You More, The Price Or The Hygiene Factor While Buying Groceries?

An IIT Kharagpur graduate, and post-graduation in Finance from IIM, Indore, Atul possesses a wealth of over decade of experience in the professional education and has been associated with leading names like Reliance Capital and Maruti Udyog among others.

Being the CEO and Co-Founder of Fresh VnF - a consumer agritech startup, which launched in April 2018, I bring in the exemplary, personality and visionary for providing safe foods for kitchens. I'm also an investor in Addverb Technology (Robotics and Warehouse Automation Company), (legaltech company, which connects clients to lawyers), and SMD Labs (Affordable Diagnostic Services in Tier-III town). Under my leadership, Edupristine went on to become a prime player for professional training in India, which was later acquired by Adtalem Global Education (NYSE listed US company).

Passionate about my work, I played a critical role in helping the brand Fraazo evolve with the shifting trends of the market. I'm critical about driving my organization toward social changes. My main role and areas of focus in the organization include an overall strategy for products and brands of the company, and with pivotal role in the development of a team, I safeguard the interests of both stakeholders and shareholders.

I delineated about my work role, and on the personal bracket, I enjoy trekking in the Himalayan Mountains and spending time with family and friends. Here are my views regarding a customer's choices.

Many customers are comfortable with local vendors and continue to purchase essentials from them as was the case prior to the pandemic

The novel Coronavirus pandemic has touched our lives in almost every possible manner. Experts predict that COVID-19 might have a lasting impact on how humans live, work, and eat beyond the tragedy of lives lost. The pandemic has initiated a thorough evaluation of all products and services people use in the course of their daily routine. Importantly, the pandemic has disrupted traditional commerce and is redefining markets across several categories which were hitherto believed to lie in the domain of traditional systems.

One of the many things that have changed or are in the process of changing is how we procure groceries and daily essentials which are one of the most frequent categories of purchases for any household. Various reports state that the corona virus could last on a surface for several hours and can be transmitted if some one gets in contact with it during such a period. Keeping this in mind, in order to curb dissemination of the virus through food or food packaging, companies that are putting the customer first are providing contact-less delivery, following proper sanitization protocols for the processing and storage, kitchens, and equipment.

However, following stringent protocols adds to cost of operations for most players as these concerns were taken for granted earlier by both the buyer and the seller. As customers opt for hygiene and safe handling of products, the cost and price factor of the commodity comes into question. Thus comes the question What should we choose between a nominal "Higher Price" or a compromise?

However, one cannot simply answer this question without first considering the larger implications of either choice.

On the one hand is a nominal price increase which comes with significantly lesser handling across the value chain where serious AgriTech players source directly from farmers at fair prices ensuring livelihood support which has been important for those who end up stranded due to frequent mandi closures owing to COVID spread, not to forget the convenience it offers. We've seen that households with kids and those with seniors are more forthcoming for these benefits as they more than adequately address the premium.

On the other hand, a marginal cost saving today could end up being very expensive if you even catch a viral infection, assuming COVID wasn't a possibility. The medical costs and the exposure one would have to endure is not a risk worth its weight.

Many customers are comfortable with local vendors and continue to purchase essentials from them as was the case prior to the pandemic.While there is no immediate challenge with that, it's usually best if one could confidently question your trusted vendor about the source of their produce and if they're taking the necessary precautions. A simple check is to see if your vendor is wearing a proper face mask, something that would indicate their attention to detail in matters of safety and hygiene.

To minimize the risk of virus, companies procure directly from farmers, ensuring them satisfactory pricing of their yield and minimizing touch-points by delivering food straight to the customer's doorstep within a short window from the time a vegetable is harvested. Companies are also investing in sanitizing their centers, conducting daily temperature checks on the whole team, and their proper safety gear and PPE kits to their riders.The key,however lies in consistency of these efforts.