E-commerce attempts to crack Latvian grocery market

The Central Statistical Bureau announced that 53.8% of the Latvian population uses the internet to purchase goods and services and that the percentage is slowly increasing, with the biggest e-commerce users between the ages of 16-34, according to Latvian Radio's “Eiro Fokusā” (“Euro in Focus”) broadcast on January 20.

Latvian Food Retailers Association Chief Executive Noris Krūzītis said that although internet shopping is becoming more popular, Latvia is still statistically at the bottom in terms of Europe.

“In Latvia, according to “Eurostat” data, we're one of the ones who use e-commerce less, including for groceries. When we say the yearly increase is 30%, don't think of anything extremely big, but we see that the movement is positive,” said Krūzītis.

There are tens of businesses offering groceries online, but most offer niche products or don't make deliveries every day. “They include eco products from farms. But the most visible everyday delivery services include veteran Nuko, Barbora has already been operating for several years. A new addition to this market is Rimi.” said Krūzītis.

“Of course, just like with a traditional store, discounts and delivery methods play a big role,” said the association's chief executive.

"Barbora" Representative Liene Dupate-Ugule said that last year their turnover increased by 68%, showing that people are changing their habits and are placing more value on their free time. “We already have three fulfilment centers, the number of employees has increased 30%, and our car park has grown 30%,” said the representative.

“I have two children myself, I frequently shop online because it's a lot easier when you have a heavier purchase, which is appreciated by families with children,” said Dupate-Ugule.

She also compares Latvia with the other Baltic countries. Lithuania, as a larger commerce country, has always been more active in every sector, while Estonians have been geared more towards technology. “In Latvia we're also thinking about how to alleviate the shopping experience to make it more enjoyable, convenient and operative,” said Dupate-Ugule.

"Internet shopping is unmistakably a very much growing niche. The most popular product groups are fresh produce and products for children and newborns. If we look at studies about the main obstacles to choosing to purchase groceries, that would be due to possible worries over product quality,” said “Rimi Latvia” e-commerce Director Didzis Kirstuks.

“One important position is millennials from 21 to 35 years of age, then business people aged 35 even to 45, new mothers, and in the middle are also seniors,” said Krūzītis.

Data from the Central Statistical Bureau shows that 46.2% of people living in Latvia haven't made any internet purchases in the last year due to the habit of shopping in person.

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