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The online fresh foods opportunity in Asia-Pacific

By Dave Howard

Ethan S. Sinick, Research Director for the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council, Asia Pacific, presents a study examining why connected urban Asia Pacific region shoppers continue a disproportionate rate of purchasing fresh foods categories in stores.

The countries of the Asia-Pacific region are home to many of the world’s most digitally-savvy consumers and a place where already today 60 percent of shoppers see themselves likely to use ecommerce for some of their purchases. However, these levels of digital enthusiasm have not reached the more than USD $2 trillion spent on fresh food shopping in the region.

A recent report from the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council Asia Pacific (CCRRC) authored with Accenture, found that only 1-3 percent of the region’s shoppers would currently make fresh food purchases online. This gap in category digitization presents a variety of opportunities for Asia Pacific retailers who might either accelerate ecommerce by better understanding the nature of shopper reticence or further develop their brick and mortar stores to capitalize on the relative sources of shopper anxiety.

The CCRRC report found that the rapidly changing Asia-Pacific consumer landscape already holds some of the answers. Grocery categories outside of fresh foods are moving into ecommerce in the region, looking to non-perishable categories like baby and infant products or health and beauty, between 14 and 19 percent of Asia-Pacific shoppers are already purchasing some of these category needs via ecommerce. Yet, there were three main barriers Asia Pacific consumers identified to Fresh Foods:

  1. Trust in quality
  2. Trust in selection/picking
  3. Ability to deliver quickly.

The CCRRC believes that solving the operational and marketing issues behind these barriers holds the keys to transforming the digital shopper experience for fresh foods or can reinforce the current advantage of brick and mortar stores.


At the same time, the CCRRC wanted to understand the role of fresh foods in Asia-Pacific consumer lifestyles. When asked about what fresh foods mean to them in the context of their lifestyles, Asia-Pacific households told the CCRRC that a fresh shopping experience needs to deliver:

  1. Support for an act of love show to their families
  2. Support for an act of assurance for their families
  3. A social experience
  4. Confirmation of knowledge.

These areas can help the region’s retailers understand the experiences that they are trying to create for the shoppers and the aims of their various business operating processes in the areas of fresh food.

The report concluded that a personalised and seamless service, created with the right partners, can create a brand that can be trusted by Asia-Pacific consumers who want an online fresh experience. A picking and delivery operation that allows the shopper to feel that we are supporting the foundations of what fresh means to households. Focusing on specific areas of people operations (the picker, the delivery person) to support the brand. Ensuring that our digital interfaces and marketing supporting expertise and allow the shopper to browse for both social and expert needs

Retailers can delight Asian customers by using the opportunity of digital to enhance the fresh food experience and keep fresh food at the heart of their lifestyles. Equally, retailers can look at their bricks and mortar stores and understand which areas to further support as a means to keep Asia-Pacific consumers loyal to that fresh food experience.

Watch the animation and download the report.