Digital is shaking up the food and drink industry

Gaining shelf space within brick-and-mortar stores is still fiercely competitive, but eCommerce offers brands new opportunities.

Article abridged from Strawberrysoup’s Guide to Digital Marketing for Food and Drink Brands. Download for FREE here.

The accepted paradigm for success in the FMCG sector used to be a little more straightforward:

‘Cultivate solid relationships with the major retailers, focus on creating great products, build a respectable brand and get creative with your marketing.’

While gaining shelf space within brick-and-mortar stores is still fiercely competitive, eCommerce offers brands the opportunity to build a solid relationship with the end consumer and sell direct. Direct-to-consumer and third-party retailer eCommerce websites currently account for 36% of specialty food and beverage sales. However, it doesn’t work for every brand and there can be a whole host of contributing factors to the success or failures


Impulse Behaviour, Voice-Enabled Tech and the Age of Convenience

…it is shoppers’ appetite for ever-increasing convenience that so often determines success from failure.’ – Alastair Lockhart.

eCommerce websites, Mobile Apps and Voice-Enabled devices, are all appealing to the time-poor consumer. Research in the Waitrose’s Food & Drink report, highlights a staggering ‘65% of Britons visit a supermarket more than once a day […] over half are unable to decide what they are having for dinner until lunchtime and 1 in 10 will decide just before they eat.’  

Consumers are becoming last minute heroes. Why you may ask? The answer is because they can be. Not only do consumers want more convenience with faster and cheaper delivery, according to Mintel, 35% of UK online grocery shoppers say the ability to add products to their grocery order through voice command is appealing.

What opportunities do websites provide for FMCG brands?

1. Brand positioning

A website is a communication tool. Not simply words, pictures and the application of brand guidelines, but a culmination of elements which help to communicate to the user what the brand is about and what sets it apart in the market. A website should be seamlessly consistent with every other touchpoint of the brand.

A good way to understand what brands really want from their website, is to consider ‘how brands want to make their competitors look?’ – believe it or not it’s usually a powerful and revealing way of crystallising what a brand truly stands for.

2. Showcase your product

A brand’s website provides a platform for communicating the product positioning, USPs, provenance of ingredients, the story-worthy process of production. This isn’t just for the trade, but more importantly for the end consumer who wishes to understand why they should pay the asking price for a product or service that can be purchased with a director competitor for half the price.

3. Help customers understand where to buy

This can be as simple as logos – or indeed as engineered as a ‘stockist locator’. If the brand has its own brick and mortar stores, then driving footfall to them and showing them on a map will most certainly be on your list of website requirements. Key retailer logos, such as: Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Harrods, can add gravitas for brands expanding their reach and without a doubt make sense to include across a website.

4. Selling products directly to a consumer

If you can make the ease of purchase painless, then your brand is doing it right.  Websites can enhance selling by added opportunities like online discounts, gift-wrapping services or an alternative payment method. Further to this, for a brand to increase its repeat business it’s perfectly legitimate to create a loyalty program of its own, or develop a subscription-product proposition. The latter can be as simple as ‘subscribe and save’ carrying a financial incentive to the user.

5. Customer insights

Understanding on-site behaviour of users, gaining insight into demographics and purchase habits can ultimately help guide new product development and insight into how the brand can best optimise its UX and website.

A prime example of this is Sipsmith’s Sipping Society subscription proposition which ultimately contributed to the launch of their Lemon Drizzle Gin  into their mainstream product range after it started life in the inaugural subscription box.

In conclusion, digital is empowering brands and retailers with the opportunity to shake things up and above all test and learn what works. A brand website isn’t just an opportunity to capture sales, it’s a powerful communication tool and a hugely valuable data capture platform that shouldn’t be underestimated.

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