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Online Shopping In The Age Of COVID-19; The Good, Bad And The Ugly

The good, bad and the ugly sides of online shopping during the pandemic.

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Online shopping in Sri Lanka, especially in terms of grocery and other day today products, has gained extensive popularity during the past year, solely because of COVID-19. Initially, it was just a few popular local supermarket chains, but it gradually grew up to a point where you can find the handiye elawalu kadey on PickMe Food.
 
Online shopping is crucial in times like this. It benefits both consumer and merchant. So, a little over one year down the line since the first lockdown, we thought of discussing the good, bad and ugly sides of online shopping we have experienced in Sri Lanka.

Good

So these are some of the very best things about online shopping in Sri Lanka.

Convenience

When it comes to online shopping, you can shop from wherever you are, even from your washroom. It saves you the time-consuming process of getting ready, heading out, shopping in-store, waiting in line, and then coming back home with hands full of bags.

Moreover, online ordering allows you to place orders for yourself, or for your family who lives miles away from you. In the latter case, you can simply provide the contact details of the receiver, and the merchant sorts it out without letting you worry about it. 

Accepts Cards

With the ongoing lockdowns, we hardly have a way to step into an ATM. Thankfully, almost all the popular supermarkets, some stores, and shops that deliver through third-party platforms accept debit and credit cards. Aside from the convenience, it encourages contactless payments, which can help prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Instant Refunds

Certain supermarkets accept card payments, but offer instant cash refunds, to the last single rupee. It's hassle-free and does not involve checking your bank account constantly to see whether the refund amount is credited and inquiring about it in long email threads.

Wide Variety

From vegetables, fruits and dry rations to dairy, medicine and baby products, the wide variety offered by online stores, especially supermarkets, is quite impressive. You might not always get the brands you usually prefer, but there will be at least one alternative product to it.

Speciality Stores

Online shopping has been enabled by many speciality stores. Some deliver on their own, and others do it through third-party apps. So if you have a specific brand in mind, this option would come in handy for you. For example, if I want to purchase CIAO cheese and cannot find them in a supermarket, I can simply look them up on PickMe Food and place an order. 

Discounts

A number of shops give discounts to their customers, through the third-party delivery apps they have teamed up with. Furthermore, the third-party apps themselves arrange separate discounts for credit/debit cards, by partnering up with respective banks.

Minimises Spread 

Online shopping gives you the opportunity to shop at the comfort of your home, without having to hassle with the masks, crowds and physical queues. It minimises human contact, contamination and ultimately, the spread of COVID-19.

Bad

There can be disappointments when we order online. But these are things that we can make peace with.

Limited Stocks

You might not be able to order goods to your heart's content. It could be because the shops have implied maximum quantity rules, or simply because they've run out of stocks. Most of the supermarkets proceed with orders on a first-come-first-serve basis, so try to get online as early as possible if you have a lengthy grocery list. 

Delivery Delays

Due to the high order volumes and limited stocks, there can be delivery delays. However, some supermarkets and all the third-party delivery apps provide you with a tracking method, from the moment they accept the order to the point it arrives at your doorstep. 

No Quick Returns

Replacing a product that you're not happy with can be problematic in the current online shopping situation in Sri Lanka. At the moment, the best they can do is giving you a refund. 

Doesn't Have Everything Under One Roof

This question mainly pops up when you're ordering through a delivery app and it also depends on the shops that are available within your vicinity. In some cases, customers have to order from three different shops if they want to purchase vegetables, dry rations and poultry, as there is no shop within their radius that has everything under one roof. Aside from the inconvenience, it also involves three different delivery fees. 

Ugly

These are things that are just not excusable. 

Rotten Vegetables/ Fruits

Image source: mashed.com

I recently made an order from a famous supermarket, and received some spoiled carrots, bruised tomatoes and a tub of melted ice cream that looks like a milkshake. Aside from the ice cream, I had to throw the rest out, because they're not edible. It was evident that they had handled the goods very poorly without considering their physical state, condition, or suitability to consumption.

Expired Products

Image source: insider.com

There were many complaints on social media about expired products, especially bakery items ordered from certain supermarkets. I also received an expired baguette with a hand-written sticker, pasted over the old printed date. The baguette itself was hard in texture and discoloured. Absolutely horrifying. 

Delayed/No Refunds

Due to the current situation in the country, refunds made through a bank can get delayed. However, there have been situations where the refunds take more than two weeks, or don't come through at all, which is a concerning situation. 

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