Over the past years, the world of eCommerce has seen jaw-dropping growth rates, fueled in part by a new generation of consumers who are digitally native and regularly use the internet for shopping. In this fast-growing online shopping world, grocery sales have tripled in the past 6 years and are expected to quadruple by 2023. If you’re not selling your food products online, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity.
Scale with OMS
For local protein bar brands that were traditionally restricted by the geographical location of their retail stores, lean eCommerce platforms like Shopify have enabled them to ship nationwide, all with just a few clicks of a button. Brands selling on multiple online channels (eComm store, Amazon, eBay, etc) can use inventory and order management software (OMS) to connect multiple stores and manage multichannel inventory, orders, and shipping from one central location. Apps like TradeGeko, Multiorders or Brightpearl are all-in-one retail operations platforms that allow merchants to automate their internal processes from order through to fulfillment.
Today’s “online shoppers across regions expect quick fulfillment of online orders”, found a 2019 study conducted by UPS. However, for smaller brands, gaining access to a nationwide distribution network that allows fast shipping is still cost prohibiting, as are traditional 3PLs. To answer this need, a host of providers have launched fulfillment networks of their own (Amazon FBA, Shopify Fulfillment Network, eBay Managed Delivery) to allow sellers access to cost-effective fulfillment that increases delivery speed and responds to the delivery expectations of online shoppers.
Advertising on ride-sharing apps
According to a previous study conducted by AAA, drivers in the United States spend around an hour driving each day, opening up the opportunity for hyper-targeted advertising based on geographical location. Brands can promote products via ride-sharing apps (think ads on platforms such as Uber or Lyft) or by creating targeted voice ads on top streaming apps such as Spotify or Pandora. Going a step further, as voice-enabled eCommerce continues to expand and evolve, ordering products in advance of store arrival and placing online grocery orders through Siri are becoming reality.
Being able to offer your nutritional products across a variety of channels provides your customers with different opportunities to engage with the brand, building brand loyalty and creating deeper, more meaningful connections. Your consumers are looking to engage with your brand at every level, so allowing them to try before they buy is a sure way to create a competitive advantage. Local events, pop-up stores or other retail activities that go beyond a website click are all opportunities to bridge the gap between digital and retail, by helping you increase your customer lists, or by enriching already existing digital customer profiles. Once in-store customer information is captured, brands can continue the dialogue with digital initiatives (emails, remarketing campaigns, other forms of marketing automation) meant to nurture prospects and customers and turn them into brand advocates. Being able to share loyalty points across all customer touchpoints is another cross-channel initiative that boosts advocacy and brand engagement.
Product discovery platforms
While not technically part of the eCommerce ecosystem, product discovery platforms are a recent trend in the food industry. With roughly 190,000 new CPG products landing on the shelves each year, platforms such as Rangeme.com allow emerging food brands to get discovered by the leading retailers like Target, GNC, Whole Foods, and more. By connecting buyers, suppliers and service providers, product discovery hubs like these have revolutionized the CPG space and allowed thousands of brands to be discovered by retail buyers.
Compelling brand experiences with video
As customers continue to spend more time watching video, we are seeing this trend translate into the food eCommerce experience as well. Going beyond the promotional video provides further opportunities to use video instead of product pictures, for a more personal and engaging experience. Successful protein bars brands use a blend of videos like influencer content as well as user-generated content in their digital market strategy.
Custom subscription programs
eCommerce subscriptions have increased over 100% a year over the past six years, with over 15% of all online shoppers having enrolled in a subscription service online. The advantages of allowing customers to receive products on a regular basis are significant: the subscription model helps drive repeat purchases and helps significantly increase customer lifetime value. To go one step further and create even more personal shopping experiences, allow your customers to personalize their food subscription and offer extra value by using rotating offers, smart product recommendations, and flexible program options.
According to recent studies, over 25% of consumers in the US have abandoned an online order in the past quarter due to a long or overly complicated checkout process. Removing friction at checkout remains one of the most effective ways of boosting store conversions and offering a seamless digital shopping experience. Using dynamic checkout buttons, Shopify and other eCommerce platforms make it easy for store owners to incorporate PayPal, Google Pay, and Amazon Pay in their checkout process and skip the cart page entirely.
Another trend in optimizing your online food shopping experience is using micro-markets such as Instagram or Facebook to sell your products without interrupting the social experience your customers are engaged in.
To create long-term emotional connections with their customers, successful food brands create conversations and provide feedback opportunities at every step of the buying process. An entire ecosystem of apps power these consumer conversations: from apps that generate and send micro-surveys in the form of SMS messages where the customers can simply reply with a word of feedback, to chatbots powered by Artificial Intelligence that can answer customer questions promptly and accurately. Creating personalized customer conversations offers incredible competitive advantages, and the tools are only getting better thanks to machine learning technology.