The Importance of E-Commerce in the Food Industry

Although food is a physical, emotional and sensory-driven experience, much like everything else these days ー it must get itself a following online. 

It doesn’t matter how juicy and soft your burritos are - if you don’t have the meaningful tagline and the slick logo, a modern audience won’t look twice. 

We live in a branded world where marketing is the make or break for any business. If you don’t look good on the world wide web, the chances are you won’t sell. Modern customers need a brand with a purpose to buy into, not just a great physical product. 

Online shopping is here to stay; and a bridge to new customers

Given the growing influence of e-commerce, the buying and selling of goods over the internet, and the need for food companies to develop their products digitally is greater than ever. Online sales saw a huge 32.1% increase from 2019 to 2020, compared to a 6.9% increase in retail sales in the same year. 

In 2020, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to 4.28 trillion US dollars and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to 5.4 trillion US dollars in 2022. Online shopping is one of the most popular online activities worldwide, and Americans spend an average of 6.31 hours on the internet each day. 

Despite the food and beverage sector being the largest industry in the U.S, it has famously fallen behind its consumer electronics and household product counterparts in adopting e-commerce, largely due to the perishable nature of food and drink products and the specific delivery/storage needs. 

But thanks to the ever-growing sophistication of technology and changing consumer behavior (arguably brought about by the pandemic and the huge emphasis on online food delivery) the food and beverage industry’s e-commerce revenue is projected to exceed $26 billion this year. 

Online food delivery took up 13% of the entire US restaurant market during COVID-19, and it is expected to grow to a whopping 21% by 2025

Even traditional bricks-and-mortar food companies are setting aside millions to develop their e-commerce processes. Just last year McDonalds brought in Silicon Valley tycoon Atif Rafiq as their new Chief Digital Officer, tasked with building the fast food giant’s online presence. 

Embrace E-commerce for your Food brand sooner than later

From forums and Facebook groups to recipe e-books, there’s huge potential for food companies to find their feet online.

Failure to recognize this may well lead to abject marketing campaigns that suggest a disconnect with modern day customers who are now actively looking for, and are influenced by, a company’s online channels. 

The trick? Do not waste time. Just as the housing market moves quickly, the very best website names (domains) are being snapped up by suitors as we speak. 

A great domain name is the equivalent to a multi-million dollar duplex in the Hollywood hills ー it signposts you, gives you status and provides a stepping stone for your business to grow and become a pacesetter in the sector. 

But competitors are swooping in and taking the best domain names out there – so food companies must act fast when looking for a great domain name for their e-commerce website. 

Top Tip 

It is worth noting that this year, descriptive domains look set to take over. Companies can make their web address more self-explanatory by utilizing both sides of the ‘dot’ like machachusetts.coffee or veganfood.la, for example. 

Not only does this contribute to your SEO ー how easy it is for customers to find you online ー but it gives you an extension that is easy to remember and establishes your brand. 

Take the headache out of logistics

As we’ve mentioned, one of the main reasons the food and drink industry fell behind in the world of e-commerce was due to the complexities of delivery timeframes and storage requirements, with food having to be kept frozen, cool, or delivered quickly. 

There is now a whole new network of digitized systems that take the headache out of food delivery – cutting costs, streamlining processes and beating your competition in the process. 

Here at Buffalo Market, we do just that. Distributed using a near-daily direct store delivery service, our trusted team works with you to decipher appropriate delivery timeframes to the retailers you want to work with. 

What if demand soars? What if we lose track of orders? What if our stocks can’t keep up? All these issues are taken care of. 

Stocking and restocking, liaising with retailers, orchestrating delivery flows – our organized and robust systems ensure no product is left unaccounted for, being packaged, stored and delivered to the highest standard. 

Top Tip  

If you’re to start your e-commerce journey, it might be worth tapping into the huge modern trend of plant-based health foods. Alternative proteins, regenerative agriculture, all the plant-based, nutritious stuff that feeds the planet as well as the customer. 

And guess where the majority of these green-minded consumers shop? Online. Vegan and plant-based foods are the fastest-growing category of foods that people are ordering, according to leading food-delivery companies in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

It makes sense - targeting a particular demographic on a channel they use with a product you know they’ll love. The demand is already there, and as the leading distributor of purpose-driven food and beverage brands, Buffalo Market can help you stand out from the rest. 

Leverage data to become tomorrow’s e-commerce champion

One of the major reasons CPGs should embrace e-commerce is the sheer amount of data it provides.

In a digitized world, data is king – it allows you to analyze and gain invaluable insights into the way your market shops and their common purchasing patterns.

Companies can use this information to build their next marketing campaign, getting them ahead of their competitors and connecting them to their ideal target customer base better than ever before. How does Amazon provide accurate product recommendations, knowing exactly what you want, and what you don’t? It’s all in the data. 

Aside from that, there are huge opportunities to tap into social media and the discussion around food online. Instagram and Facebook have become influential channels in the industry, allowing brands to communicate with their customers one-on-one and develop their brand voice, furthering their reach of a do-gooder with great intentions. 

This is perfect for challenger brands looking to disrupt the market and reach more customers than has ever been possible. 

What’s perfect? With the shoppable developments of social media, users then click onto your profile, and can then shop your products in-app – e-commerce and social media meeting in perfect harmony. Food manufactures should invest time and money into these platforms if they want to be ahead of the game and secure sales from an otherwise disengaged audience. 

How to succeed in the online food market 

Embracing e-commerce ASAP is only going to better your consumer packaged goods business. 

Not only will you learn a whole new world of marketing and business, but you’ll be well prepared for the next new wave of technological advancement. 

Our world is changing and adapting at a stratospheric rate and failure to get with the programme will leave you behind. 

How can we help?

Buffalo Market distributes, stocks, and merchandises some of the fastest growing and most world-positive brands available to major and independent retailers across California. With our near-daily DSD and merchandising services, we keep high quality brands moving. 

Are you looking to work with some of the fastest growing, most world positive, emerging brands?  Tell us more about what you're looking for and we will reach out to you ASAP.

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