Online grocery shopping has historically been less popular than other product categories due to entrenched shopping habits. In China, many households like to do their grocery shopping at wet markets or supermarkets, and for some, the daily trips are a form of social activity.
But Covid-19 forced a behavioral change. With severe restrictions on movements during the pandemic lockdowns, many consumers found themselves having to buy their fresh produce and meat through alternative means.
One popular method that emerged was to pool orders from a residential compound and place them with a neighborhood grocer, who would then drop off the orders at one point to minimize physical interaction.
After the lockdowns were lifted, the shopping behavior stuck. Many consumers were still reluctant to visit crowded markets and jostle with others to get their groceries, especially now that they can place their orders through mobile apps and pick up the purchases in their own time.
By 2025, nearly half of China’s grocery shopping is expected to take place online, up from 20% currently, according to an estimate by Goldman Sachs. The online grocery market is projected to reach 7 trillion yuan in five years, the bank said.
To cater to this shift in consumer behavior, Pinduoduo introduced a next-day, self-pickup grocery service called Duo Duo Maicai. The service is part of the main Pinduoduo app and also available as a standalone mini-program in WeChat. Duo Duo Maicai was launched in August in Wuhan and Nanchang and is now available in most provinces in China.
How does it work?
Duo Duo Maicai is a natural extension of Pinduoduo's mobile commerce platform and an integral part of its ecosystem. For cities where the service is available, Duo Duo Maicai is featured on the main Pinduoduo app. This offers users the option to purchase a curated selection of items at lower prices and pick them up the next day. At the same time, they can continue to enjoy the fun and interactive experience and discover other categories of value-for-money products.
Buyers can place an order for groceries before 11 pm and pick up their orders from 4 pm onwards the following day. There are designated pick-up points for convenient access.
As China’s largest agricultural e-commerce platform, Pinduoduo works with millions of farmers, merchants and logistics providers. The platform first gathers information on the types and availability of local agricultural produce, then curates a list of items to be offered to shoppers each day.
The aggregated daily orders are then fulfilled by regional warehouses and sent to various pick-up locations.
By matching demand from local communities with supply from local farms, Pinduoduo is able to reduce transportation time, minimize wastage and cut down on the costs of logistics. This is especially so for leafy vegetables, which are more prone to spoilage if they must travel long distances.
Duo Duo Maicai also saves on the last-mile logistics by having the consumers pick up the purchases themselves. These savings also contribute to lower prices, making the offerings even more attractive.
For many farmers of leafy greens and other more delicate fruits, Duo Duo Maicai also represents a chance for them to take part in the digital economy.
What is available for purchase on Duo Duo Maicai?
Depending on availability, one can buy fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat, poultry, dairy products, alcohol and beverages, snacks, condiments, household necessities like detergent, and medical supplies like masks and sanitizer.