The first online sales of fruit and vegetables in Spain emerged in 2002 in the form of Lamejornaranja.com, which said it could ship oranges anywhere on the Iberian peninsula within 24 hours.
Its success has spawned competitors such as soyagricultura.com and lafrutaencasa.com. Transport remains one of the most important parts of expanding this trade. Those involved need their goods delivered to customers - whether private individuals or retailers - within 24 hours.
Courier companies are best positioned to help. SEUR, for example, has implemented an e-commerce solution that enables better communication with its clients. Joaquim López, manager of a logistics platform at SEUR, explains: "The key to success in e-business in general, and fruit and veg in particular, is transparency and the ability to get information to customers so they can track the produce in real time."
All this obviously comes at a cost. For B2B, i.e. trade between producers and retailers, the additional expense can be absorbed into the overall logistics operations of the distributor. This is not the case, however, for direct sales to end-customers.
"Individual consumers do not want to bear transport costs. E-commerce is coming up against this obstacle," explains Luis Aratun, director of courier company Tips@.
In order to clear this obstacle, it is essential to focus on the added value of the produce. That is why organic producers have had success in a market as niche as online sales of fruit and vegetables.
Shared offers are even more a guarantee of success. Take directodelcampo.com,for example, which groups together 70 producers for distribution throughout Spain. This solution also provides more choice to customers, with the ability to buy a whole range of fruit and vegetables depending on the season. Grouping producers together is an effective way of spreading throughout the year what is, by its very nature, a hugely seasonal business.