Online shopping arrives in Barunga!
If you’ve ever used the Woollies or Coles online shopping service, then you’ll know how the Barunga Store online shopping experience will play out.
The new online shopping website is now live, and customers can create an account, choose their shopping and pick it up from the shop - or in some circumstances we will even deliver! You can learn more about when the orders must be in and when the shopping arrives, and other info from the website. https://barunga-store.myshopify.com/
Why online shopping now?
The online shopping website was primarily created in response to the COVID19 travel restrictions. Before COVIV19 most of the people in Barunga travelled to Katherine Woollies to do their big shops, and we heard people’s concerns about having to shop exclusively at the Barunga store because of the travel restrictions.
After consultation with the store owners, it was decided an online shopping website was the best way to make sure people were able to continue to get what they want, at prices similar to what they were used to paying. We were very resolute this was not the time to be making money off people in a vulnerable situation.
Pricing transparency will lower prices
The second reason for the website, and this will become more relevant as the travel restrictions are lifted, is about giving a point of comparison for pricing in community stores.
AIG makes no secret of its passion in calling out overpricing in community stores throughout the NT, and this site offers a resource for people to compare the prices in their community store, with prices in the Barunga Store. We’re confident we have the best prices in the NT for essentials, and we want all community store customers to know what an alternate pricing structure looks like.
“A very important side effect of the site will be transparency in pricing. Anyone can log onto the site and see the prices in the Barunga store. If there is a difference in the price of the same product in their store, they have every right to ask why. Change comes from knowledge and we hope this site can be used as a tool to educate people about the prices others have in their stores”. Steve Smith, AIG CEO
People are frustrated and powerless
People in communities throughout the NT are feeling frustrated and powerless to challenge the prices in their stores, and we want to give them some tools in fighting for their food security rights. Obviously, this website isn’t going to be the silver bullet in fairer pricing, but another tool in the toolbox to challenge the status quo of pricing practices throughout the NT.
It’s a similar concept to the petrol pricing websites that publicise petrol prices per region, and were very effective when they first started in calling out unethical pricing and giving people the information they needed to make informed choices.
In the longer term the petrol pricing websites achieved a more even price structure by naming and shaming petrol stations that were price gouging. We hope our website will bring the whole pricing issue out into the open a bit more, and eventually stop people being ripped off in their community store.
Proud of our prices
Prices on essentials in the Barunga Store are matching Woolies in Katherine which is a significant achievement through shopping around for suppliers, limiting profits on essentials like fruit and vegetables, and not receiving rebates from suppliers for stocking their products.
You only need to follow conversations on social media about store pricing to see many people claiming it isn’t possible for community stores to price match with Woollies or Coles and we are very proud that we can. Log onto the site and see for yourself!
We are a tiny player in the store management scene, so if we can do it, then we firmly believe all of the store management groups can do better for sake of food security and promoting the overall health of the people living in communities.
Uptake is the next big challenge
The website has just been launched and educating and encouraging people to use it will be the next challenge. We know that people’s shopping preferences are not driven by price alone, but it is important that consumers understand how we can get the prices we do and how to keep them low.
Prices are so low because lots of people are shopping there, which means we can order in bulk and reduce the freight cost component of community store pricing. We can only keep prices low if people continue to shop at the store after the travel restrictions are lifted. The bottom line is, if people in Barunga want cheap community store products, they have to keep shopping at their store.
Our message to people who rely on their community store
Check out the prices on the site and see how they compare to your community store. If you can see a huge difference, take it up with the store managers (who should be taking it up with the store owners).
Community stores play a huge role in the overall health of the community, if people can only afford to buy bad food because the healthy stuff is priced prohibitively, they will continue to have bad health. This is something worth fighting for.