A Hypermart outlet in Surabaya. (Antara Photo/Zabur Karuru)

Hands Off the Cart: Non-Contact Grocery Shopping on the Rise During Pandemic

BY :JAYANTY NADA SHOFA

APRIL 06, 2020

Jakarta. Grocery shoppers will no longer need to push a shopping cart around a supermarket during the Covid-19 pandemic.

To curb coronavirus spread, Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto has recently signed a ministerial regulation dictating the requirements for local governments to implement large-scale social distancing.

That includes the temporary closure of public spaces while sparing essential businesses like supermarkets and drugstores. Freight transport for supermarket supplies is also exempt from transport limitations.

Since the coronavirus outbreak began in Indonesia, supermarkets have been fighting their own battles, including facing waves of panic buyers. That eventually led to the National Police's Food Stability Task Force rationing purchase for rice, sugar, cooking oil and instant noodles.

Aside from assuring their shelves well-stocked, grocery stores still need to keep their shoppers safe from the virus.

A commonly found measure at supermarkets around the country is marking the spots where customers should stand in a queue to maintain physical distancing.

Others carry out thermal checks before letting shoppers enter the premise.

However, this does not shut down the possibility of encountering asymptomatic carriers – either in the queue for the tills or when walking down the aisle.

To keep the risk of contagion to a minimum, multi-format modern retailer Matahari Putra Prima (MPPA) has introduced the "Park & Pickup" program, a non-contact shopping service allowing customers to have groceries delivered to designated parking lots.

"Customers will not need to get off their car [to grab their groceries]. This new service complements our existing [non-contact shopping] programs, the web-based Hypermart Online and Chat & Shop on WhatsApp," MPPA's corporate secretary and director, Danny Konjongian, said in Jakarta on Monday.

Hypermart Online will serve parked shoppers in twenty of its outlets across the Greater Jakarta area.

As for its WhatsApp counterpart, the "car delivery" service has been made available at all MPPA grocery stores, including Hypermart, FoodMart, Primo, Hyfresh and SmartClub.

The Park & Pickup service also allows customers to put more groceries on their shopping carts.

Danny also encourages shoppers to go cashless, using digital payments such as OVO  to avoid potential virus transmission from banknotes.

All MPPA grocery stores will still be open for business with home deliveries available from 9.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. every day, Danny said.

"These programs are here to offer the public shopping alternatives [amid the pandemic]. We are also implementing hygiene protocols in every outlet to ensure a safer shopping experience," Danny said.

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