Posted on April 14, 2020 by staff

Virtual food market to deliver essentials to vulnerable people


A Manchester-based technology company is launching a ground-breaking way to help key workers and vulnerable people get their essential household items quickly and safely during the COVID-19 crisis.

At the touch of a button, Mercarto Fresh arranges delivery for food such as fruit and veg, eggs and bread to the doorsteps of those who are most at need.

Moved by the plight of NHS staff being confronted with empty supermarket shelves after finishing marathon shifts the team at online marketplace platform Mercarto looked at how it could use its established technology for good. In just a few days, the firm switched its focus from building online stores for businesses and developed a virtual food market for public use.

Mercarto founder and CEO Sean Brown said: “As this national crisis began to escalate, we knew we had to look at the resources available to us and think about how they could be used to help people who are struggling to buy food online.

“Whilst consumers are struggling to access fresh produce, the local producers I have spoken with are struggling with an influx of demand that is unmanageable. Mercarto Fresh helps to manage that demand while adding delivery direct to consumers within a matter of hours.”

The firm is now calling for calling for local suppliers including food outlets, farms, farm shops, and independent stores to populate the virtual market. Once stores are created users can purchase goods from suppliers within a 10-mile radius and either collect their shopping or arrange delivery directly from the site.

To create a fair system for all shoppers there is a restriction of two items per customer on each product line to provide fresh produce to as many people as possible.

After hearing that taxi firms had experienced a huge drop in trade, Mercarto has teamed up with Street Cars to trial a delivery service in Greater Manchester before a nationwide roll out.

Brown said: “Street Cars has an enormous network of taxis and I knew it was the company we needed to work with for a project like this. Trust, reliability and extensive experience of Greater Manchester’s roads are key for ensuring customers receive their deliveries as fast as possible during this difficult period.”

Measures have also been put in place to ensure the utmost hygiene and safety levels for suppliers, delivery drivers and customers.

Brown added: “We are living in unprecedented times and the current situation is unknown territory for us all. But, despite the uncertainty we want to provide everyone with the opportunity to feed their family fresh, nutritious food. It’s one less thing to worry about.”

Suppliers wishing to sign up to Mercarto Fresh can do so for free. They are then taken through a quick and simple process to upload their product inventory to start selling to customers.