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Maximize sales of food products with online shopping

  • 4 min read

With up to 15% of sales now online and growing, it’s more important than ever to maximize this sales opportunity.

Online shopping for food in Canada has increased to 12-15% of total food purchased at retail. Consumers are embracing this option and as retailers improve their ability to execute, the penetration will probably continue to increase. This impacts the entire food industry and suppliers must ensure their products get into the virtual shopping cart, just as they must ensure they get into a real one.

There are a number of opportunities for producers and processors to increase their sales within the online segment of their customer’s business.

  1. Check all of your customer’s websites weekly for your products
    Think of this as your online service level. Your product needs to be there and if it's not, you’ll both lose sales. There are many things that have to happen to ensure your product is where it should be. If your product is not displayed correctly or where it should be, take a screen shot and share it with your customer. They are losing sales too.
  2. Consider moving some trade spend to these platforms
    You only have so much money to spend on trade spend(the dollars you invest with retailers to drive your sales). This is spent on ads, in-store specials, demos, etc. There are many opportunities starting to appear on retailer’s websites where producers and processors can promote your products. Ask about costs and if you do participate, measure the results to see your return on investment. Retailers are able to execute regional programs online and there is little cost to them.
  3. Check the photos of your items
    Similar to printed flyers, check to make sure your photo is correct. If not, don’t complain, provide a solution. Find out what resolution they need and provide it to the right people.
  4. Add value with recipes for holidays or events
    There are many opportunities to add value online. We know consumers are eating more at home and some need more help in the kitchen. When they’re shopping for food online, there are opportunities to supply recipes, cooking tips, etc. Retailers should create links to your product that’ll get your item on the shopping list and help them at the same time.
  5. Take advantage of consumer data
    Looking for an advantage? Determine if it’s beneficial to get access to the data of who is buying your products. Your customers know, and each retailer will use this information differently. Those with loyalty programs are collecting data and using it. Most retailers want you to pay for this information. The investment can be worthwhile to determine if you’re reaching your target market and if their consumer matches your consumer.
  6. Specialty sections – are you there?
    Many retailer sites have specialty sections. To appear in this section, it probably requires a flag on your listing. If there’s no flag, the product will not show up. This is where you’ll generate incremental sales, so make sure if you should be there, you are.
  7. Check the links to your items in specialty sections
    Consumers look for the easy way to shop. Retailers are putting these specialty sections or themes on the e-commerce sites, just like they would build a display in-store. Make sure the link to your item works.
  8. Check special categories to make sure you are there
    Consumers are shopping for these categories and in-store they would rely on packaging to tell them. If they have someone who is lactose intolerant in their house, they’ll use these tools. This is an example where online is easier than running all over the store looking for products.
  9. Customer ratings – where do you stand?
    This is new for food but is the norm in online shopping for other categories. Consumers shopping online are more likely to depend on these reviews to influence their purchase. You should be looking at these to understand what people are saying about your products.
  10. New arrivals – are you there?
    There’s a brief window where a new product will get extra attention. Make sure you check this as soon as your product is available. There are some consumers who look for these products and you only have 1 to 2 chances to get their attention.
  11. Consumer research for online shopping
    Watch consumers navigating the site to see if they can find your products. Make sure you use people in your target market to understand how they go from the home page to your category or your item. It’s not always the route you or retailers might take.
  12. Online coupons are an opportunity
    Coupons have always been an effective tactic to use for generating sales. Online coupons are even easier for those who know how to use them.
  13. Visit other retailer e-commerce sites
    There are so many great retailer websites you should be checking out. You’ll find great ideas to share with your customers. You can also compare prices in your category in different markets across Canada. This can be very helpful if you’re in commodities.

    Until the consumer puts a product in their shopping cart and goes through checkout, your job isn’t done. With up to 15% of sales now online and growing, it’s more important than ever to maximize this sales opportunity.

Article by: Peter Chapman