Online purchasing brings new products to eager market

Kath Hammond
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Fruitday is China’s leading online retailer and the business has grown exponentially over the past six years since Loren Zhao founded the company. It now supplies premium fresh fruit online to millions of consumers in hundreds of different cities across the world’s most populous nation. Produce Business UK catches up with Zhao to learn more about the potential for online retailing of fresh produce globally

Watch the video interview in full here.

No doubt about it, Loren Zhao picked his time well when he set up Fruitday in 2009. “It’s an interesting time in China,” he explains. “In the past customers would go to a store, not the supermarket…Now they’re going to the supermarket and the store….The main purpose for them to be there [the supermarket] is for fun and to relax and during that time, they will buy some products.”

Increasing market access

The market is clearly changing in China and consumers now have a host of purchasing options to choose from, according to Zhao. “It is not only e-commerce,” he explains. “The Chinese government has granted more access for imported fruit into China. For example, during the last five years we’ve seen nearly 30 different products that have gained access to China. But I think e-commerce has accelerated that process.”

The simplicity of using online purchasing systems has been key, Zhao believes. “In the past it was maybe difficult for shoppers to get these products,” he says. “But now it’s easy for them to just go online and do some clicks. It’s easy. Done.”

Supply chain control

Although the rise in popularity of online purchasing of fresh produce is good news because it draws consumer attention, it is not something that is simple for companies to achieve. “It’s not just establishing a website,” points out Zhao.

“We have established our own distribution centres, our own delivery cars, our own delivery teams…we have our own employees to do the deliveries every day…You need to control every aspect of the supply chain to guarantee the quality and the service of the products. It’s not easy to do that, but it’s a good thing for the whole industry, for China and globally.”

With the online grocery market in the UK set to double in size between now and 2020, according to retail analyst IGD, and UK shoppers expected to have spent more online in the run up to Christmas 2015, the successful model achieved by Fruitday may be one for UK retailers to consider.

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