As we get closer to the Summer Fancy Foods Show later this month, we’ve been thinking a lot about food. Well, actually, we pretty much ALWAYS think a lot about food, so it would be more accurate to say that we’ve been thinking more about selling food online.
The best food sellers will sink hours into development before even thinking about launching online. Eventually, though, there comes a time where selling online becomes necessary. These days, ecommerce is a given: customers are going to expect online options. If I find a hot sauce I love at the farmer’s market, you can bet I’ll check to see if I can pick it up online next time. Plus, of course, selling online vastly expands your customer base.
Unfortunately, food can be one of the trickiest products to sell online. Or rather, it can be one of the trickiest products to sell well online. The cool (or frustrating, depending on who you talk to) thing about food is that every product – from artisan bitters to organic matzoh – presents a unique set of challenges.
Still, there are some general rules that can help with selling food online. That’s why we’re dedicating an entire blog to the ins and outs of the ecommerce of food.
Of course, one thing that all food has in common is shelf life. Depending on your product, this will be more or less of a pain. If you sell organic, preservative-free pita chips, you’ll have less time to work with than if you sell candy designed to survive the apocalypse.
Regardless of the longevity of your product, however, the principal remains essentially the same: you’ve got to use some math. This means factoring in not only enough time for a product to be shipped to your 3PL (third party logistics) provider, but also enough time for them to sell it, AND enough time for your customer to consume it.
Packaging is always a consideration with ecommerce, but with food items it must be impeccable. Think about this scenario: you’re shopping for a particular type of trash bag, but all that’s left is a damaged box. Do you buy it? You might, depending on the day and how much you care about that brand.
Now, replace the product with a box of cereal. In this case, fewer people will buy it, even though you know that the inner bag is probably intact. Damaged food is, for many customers, spoiled food. Because of this, sturdy packaging is an absolute must for food sellers. This is especially true when dealing with services like FBA, when kitted items need enough care that they can survive shipping procedures, and adhere to the packaging and prep requirements set by Amazon.
Buying anything online is a funny thing: it requires relinquishing a certain amount of knowledge and replacing it with convenience. Here’s the thing though: you don’t want your customer to feel this way. When listing an item, food or otherwise, detail and precision are key.
Photographs and descriptions matter. You will want to be sure you’ve got appealing high-res photos, both of the packaging and of the product itself. With food products in particular, ingredients are a key part of your brand, so make sure you take photos of those too. Your descriptions should answer questions that a consumer might not be able to answer without the product in front of them: taste, ingredients and what makes your product different.
Descriptions should not only be enticing, but they must also draw in customers via search. This means looking through your competitors and writing your descriptions accordingly. Your title, bullet points, and product description should be chalked full of keywords that will result in your target audience finding you, while still being easy to read. Next, find additional keywords that are not present in your copy and program them into the back end of your listings under Search Terms.
Since your customer is having the product delivered, online selling is a great opportunity to upsell. Brick and mortar customers have different mindsets. Unless a customer is shopping at Costco, they may not always be open to going home with five of the item they came there for. But with online selling, creating easily accessible options to buy more for a better price can be a great way to increase sales. Secondly, offering Subscribe & Save on Amazon and your own shopping cart can help you gain a loyal customer base and increase monthly sales.
Check out our blog on multi-packs to see if your product is well-suited to this method of sales.
As we get closer to the Summer Fancy Foods Show, we’re going to continue thinking about food – especially the free samples we can’t wait to try. Even more than free samples, we’re excited to meet the people behind the food, and to chat about how our passion for ecommerce and your passion for food, can come together.