With the emergence of COVID-19, the globe has been tormented by an unexpected risk to public health that has harmed the global economy and the supply chain. The unanticipated coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic rapidly expanded over the globe, and not a single country remaining unaffected by this global pandemic. The larger areas of infection began implementing massive social limitations (known as PSSB) on 10 April 2020, and other areas quickly followed suit. With the first instance of COVID-19 in regions of the world, the need for manufactured foods and pharmaceutical items rose. These results are also in accordance with findings on COVID-19 multi-impact management and findings on COVID-19 pharmaceutical/healthcare process innovations.
2.1. The Pandemic’s Consequences on the Food Purchasing Supply Chain
Agricultural production, post-harvesting management, manufacturing, distribution services, and usage of food products make up different phases within the supply chain. First, there are regulations that need to be followed by food companies and examined by the authorities. Considering the food supply chain, one of the most important sectors of the economy, it has been seen that COVID-19 has an impact on the entire process, from the field to the consumer. In light of recent challenges in food supply chain, there is now considerable concern about food production, processing, distribution, and demand. COVID-19 resulted in restrictions on the movement of workers, changes in the demands of consumers, the closure of food production facilities, restricted food trade policies, and financial pressures in the food supply chain [15
]. Therefore, governments should facilitate the movement of workers and agri-food products. In addition, small farmers or vulnerable people should be supported financially. Facilities should change the working conditions and maintain the health and safety of employees by altering safety measures. Moreover, the pandemic also affects employees, as the virus spreads by human-to-human contact. Due to this reason, several governments closed their borders to the travel of workers; therefore, the supply chain has been highly affected. The COVID-19 virus has affected workers’ health. Moreover, the virus spreads by close contact with others experiencing COVID-19 symptoms; therefore, worldwide governments imposed very serious limitations on the transportation of all types of products, including food items, via land, rail [18
], sea, or air. According to recent studies, food item transportation via these vehicles decreased by 65% due to border restrictions.
The COVID-19 scenario has had a significant influence on a number of industries, including agriculture, planting, and harvesting. Furthermore, before the incidence of COVID-19, a manpower shortfall was already a serious problem [6
]. As a result of the increased manpower shortfall generated by the virus and the physical separation which must be maintained during manufacturing, this issue has an impact on the ability of farming and food manufacturers to work effectively. Food and agricultural product distribution was restricted by such conditions, causing issues in assuring a consistent supply of food to consumers [24
Considering the facts that numerous industries rely on vital supplies, most of these are highly sensitive to shortfalls, as their supply must come from domestic markets. High-value goods are additionally affected through logistical constraints that influence food supply platforms because of their short shelf life [25
]. As a consequence, the food industry’s logistic efficacy is crucial, especially during the above-mentioned global challenges. Two major important challenges within the food supply chain are obtaining raw materials from suppliers and ensuring food transfer from manufacturers to ultimate consumers. These problems are limiting the agricultural sectors’ ability to operate normally, and they could have serious ripple effects regarding food quality, freshness, and health, limiting accessibility to markets and causing price increases [26
]. Governments need to take serious initiatives to reconfigure food supply lines while they fight the virus. The volume and mixture of agriculture products that varies by item and country determines the impact of virus insecurities for farming production. For agricultural productivity, high-income countries often use capital-intensive approaches, whereas low-income countries depend mainly on manpower. As a result, the supply chain must be kept functioning, with a special emphasis on the fundamentals of logistical issues [15
]. Although dynamic settings have been highlighted as an essential study component in earlier SCM crisis management investigations, it is rarely considered a crucial factor in actual crisis management approaches. The global COVID-19 pandemic, on the other hand, has transformed dynamic environments from an abstract idea to a tangible reality for everyone. Widespread restrictions on the movement of people, in particular, have had significant logistical consequences. Meat, fruit, vegetable, dairy, ready-to-eat foods, and other consumable items are all part of the food industry [2
Food and agriculture industries, on the other hand, can be classified under two types: capital investments and manpower. Wheat, corn, maize, soybeans, and oilseeds fall into the first sector. In the second, high-value items include fruits, vegetables, and fisheries. Limitations placed between towns, provinces, districts, and countries restrict the transportation of food products. As compared to essential items, acquiring large products demands a great amount of effort. As a result, the time-sensitive nature of agricultural operations, as well as the need for higher output growth, may contribute to agricultural sustainability through technical advancement and manpower upskilling.
The constraints posed by movement restrictions (national or international border closures) and fluctuations in consumer need are significant. Consumers were unable to eat outside due to these limitations and were required to cook their meals at home. Furthermore, because of the risk of contracting COVID-19 in stores, customers avoided going to markets and supermarkets. The supply chain has an impact on not only manufacturers, distributors, and users, but also on labor-intensive food processing companies. The productivity of many companies was decreased, stopped, or significantly delayed as a result of workers who were determined to be positive for COVID-19 or who were afraid of getting sick at work, primarily at meat-processing food industries at the time of the epidemic. Because of these factors, it is estimated that production capability fell about 25% in late April of 2020.
2.2. The Online Food Market
Consumer packaged product companies must reconsider their products in a new manner, particularly in terms of the online experience, information delivery, and how customers engage with physical food products. Because more people are adopting the use of mobile devices for shopping, food companies must consider the online shopping experience, whether it be on smartphones or computers, attentively. Online purchasing (and the related experience), which is boosted by the pandemic, is anticipated to continue to become a significant new source for food items and services post-pandemic. As per food, online grocery shopping increased by 55% in 2020, up from 44% in 2019. According to 2020 research on online purchasing, “factors influencing buyer willingness to switch to online purchases are including potential risk, price-search intention, mobility, and time of delivery,” and “gender partially mediates the effects of behavior, design, and web appearance variables on shopping online concern. To make the transformation among online and offline shopping easier, online food retailers are focused on price, assortment, simplicity, and service” [14
]. However, innovations in online shopping produces instability from known and routine behaviors, which can lead to increased risk levels, doubts, and distrust, which products and food marketers must be aware of.
Despite a plethora of studies on online customers and their preferences, the elements that impact buying behavior are still poorly understood. The studies that have been evaluated are extremely diverse, focusing on different aspects of online consumer behavior. As a result, a complete approach is required that takes into account the amount of technological instability, an individual’s commitment to isolation, adaptation to online purchasing, the availability of an acceptable consumer experience, and decision-making speed. The presence of this knowledge gap necessitates a deep comprehensive exploration of online purchasing behavior under unstable pandemic conditions with respect to its key drivers.
The goal of this study is to create a composite measure of online purchasing behavior based on the drivers of the COVID-19 pandemic and then to use it to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on online consumer purchasing behavior, taking into account digital marketing competence, supply chain capability, customer satisfaction, and the effects of periodic discount rates and outsourced logistics. In the process of achieving this goal, the following six hypotheses (See Figure 1
) were formed:
Hypothesis 1 (H1).
Overall digital advertising potential is correlated to the performance of (relative) e-commerce platforms.
Hypothesis 1a (H1a).
The association among perceived digital marketing and (relative) e-commerce business effectiveness is mediated by seasonal discount rates.
Hypothesis 2 (H2).
E-commerce network competence has a significant connection with observed supply chain abilities.
Hypothesis 2a (H2a).
The correlation among social logistics capacity and (relative) e-commerce network effectiveness is mediated by logistics services.
Hypothesis 3 (H3).
User satisfaction (reviews rating) is connected with (relative) e-commerce platform effectiveness.
Hypothesis 4 (H4).
Buyer satisfaction (review ratings) is positively correlated with observed digital marketing potential.
Hypothesis 4a (H4a).
The correlation among observed digital marketing and buyer satisfaction (review ratings) is mediated by seasonal discount prices.
Hypothesis 5 (H5).
Buyer satisfaction (review ratings) is positively correlated with observed supply chain capabilities.
Hypothesis 5a (H5a).
The correlation between observed logistics capabilities and buyer experience (review ratings) is mediated by logistics services.
Hypothesis 6 (H6).
There is no known relationship between observed digital marketing capabilities and observed supply chain capabilities.