Food and Beverage Industry in eCommerce
The food and beverage industry is one of the biggest and oldest industries in the world. Despite being around for ages, the food and beverage industry hasn’t really changed according to the times. A clear indication of this is the fact that the number of eCommerce outlets in the F&B industry is relatively low. And, the number becomes even more negligible when it comes to the B2B food and beverage industry.
Handling your F&B business through the eCommerce channel might seem scary at first but, the rewards are much too great to pass on. B2B business operates under the assumption that neither their clientele nor their mode operation will change. But, eventually, every business will have to change to meet the needs of the customer.
The scariest drawback for the B2B F&B industry is that in case of an unprecedented event they could end up taking the worst fall. Because the products are perishable and they can’t keep them stored forever especially when the quantity is huge. eCommerce eliminates this possibility by giving your business an omnichannel presence.
The omnichannel presence doesn't just mean your eCommerce store and your physical store for a B2B business. It means that you can expand your business to the B2C or even the D2C spectrums. It enhances the flexibility of your business and opens up new opportunities.
The future of F&B belongs to merchants with an omnichannel presence
F&B eCommerce delivers accuracy and immediacy, 2 aspects consumers desire the most.
Meal kit services, fresh produce, and ready-to-make meals are delivered to the front door. With rapid shipping, urgent fresh food orders can also be delivered with ease.
Customers get a convenient way of selecting, picking and ordering their favorite food. Also, get easy access to nutritional specs and sourcing info about the food.
Side by side customer reviews helps to ease the decision-making process for new visitors.
Nearly 50% of all U.S. B2B businesses offer their full product line online
Online grocery sales in the U.S. are projected to grow to $59.5 billion by 2023
- Retail eCommerce revenue from food and beverage sales amounted to almost $7.5 billion by 2020
- U.S. online beverage alcohol sales hit $2.6 billion in 2020
The Challenges Involved
Many people often hesitate when they have to take their F&B business online. This is usually because they are afraid of going into something new which they have no prior experience. But, staying in your comfort zone can only get you so far. What you need is a reliable eCommerce partner who has experience working with all the spectra of the food and beverage industry.
The other troubling factor about running an F&B industry is that the food items are perishables, and hence time is critical in the F&B industry. You can’t store the products in a warehouse indefinitely when you are dealing with perishables. As an eCommerce expert who has worked with the online sales of perishable goods, we can guide you to make the right choice for your eCommerce store. You can add logistical functionality to your eCommerce store to set the date and time of the delivery as well as use expedited shipping. Furthermore, the admin can track all the orders from the back end and even group them together geographically to make shipping simpler.
Since we are dealing with perishable goods, product handling is a lot more complex than typical eCommerce. You might not be at the capacity to set up a pickup service for everyone or every locality. One way to tackle this problem is to provide a pickup option to the locals near you or your warehouse from where the products can be directly collected from you. Even in the case of delivery, please keep in mind that consumers are already used to paying delivery fees to UberEats and InstaCarts.
Apart from this, there is also a legal aspect that you should be concerned about. The sale of any food items in the U.S. is taken seriously and the FDA regulates all foods and food ingredients sold online. It is absolutely essential that you follow these regulations under all circumstances. You need to stick to strict operational practices to ensure food safety and quality. If you fail to do so the consequences could be severe.
You also need to consider exactly what kind of food and beverage products you’ll be selling online. The F&B products that are sold online can be broadly classified into 5 segments - Food, Seafood, Alcoholic Beverage, Coffee & Tea, Restaurants, and Confectioneries.
Expertise in All Types of Food & Beverage Business
Each food and beverage business is unique. And so the way you go about managing your F&B business changes with the type of F&B product you are selling. For example, the FDA regulates all foods and food ingredients sold online. However, meat, poultry, and certain processed egg products are an exception to this as they are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
You need an eCommerce partner who has proven expertise in serving all major F&B segments so that your business is guided in the right direction. The major F&B businesses include Food, Seafood, Alcoholic Beverage, Coffee & Tea, Restaurants, and Confectioneries. And no two businesses are the same, each F&B business has unique requirements as well as features.
This section consists of essential food items such as meat, veggies, eggs, dairy products, etc. Essential food items are perishables and extra care must be taken when dealing with it. Time is an important factor when it comes to essential food products. You can’t afford to lose the freshness of the veggies or dairy products you sell. Selling inferior quality products can only cause damage to your F&B business. Whereas meat and eggs can be stored for a longer period without any damage.
With the help of eCommerce, farms can sell to both wholesalers (B2B) and retailers alike or you can even sell directly to the end consumer (D2C). The best option, however, would be to keep an omnichannel nature to your business which lets you sell to multiple customer categories. This gives your business flexibility beyond comparison and prepares your business for any unprecedented eventualities. We can help you bring the best out of your business and help you strategize your eCommerce venture regardless of the nature of your business (B2B/B2C/D2C).
Seafood is one of the most promising markets in the F&B industry and holds a great deal of profit potential. One of the reasons behind their high-profit potential is the demand for seafood is almost always high. The demand for seafood is even greater at places where there are no coastal regions nearby. The Food Marketing Institute’s survey found 56% of Americans eat seafood at least twice a month.
Virtina, as a company that has worked on multiple eCommerce stores for the seafood industry, can help shed valuable insights into the working of a seafood eCommerce store. Our experts can guide you to create that equally accessible by B2B, B2C, and D2C. With features like individual pricing, Virtina can optimize your eCommerce store for omnichannel selling.
When it comes to alcoholic beverages, the eCommerce field is very different from that of food items. The most prominent of these differences is the nature of the products. Unlike food items, they don’t go bad with time, so the storage and sales are much easier when it comes to alcoholic beverages. However, when you are dealing with alcoholic beverages it is important to make sure that the legal aspect is checked.
You can visit the alcohol control board websites and find out the regulations regarding the sales of alcoholic beverages. You’d also need a liquor license for the business. It goes without saying that sales of alcoholic beverages to people below the age of 21 is illegal and you need to ensure that the age restriction is followed in the website. Our team of experts can help you set up custom functionalities that help you effectively control the age restriction of your buyers and more.
Coffee & Tea
Although coffee & tea can not technically be classified as an essential food product, it is considered essential by the people who use them. Every coffee or tea drinker would not prefer to go a single day without their favorite drink. A study commissioned by the National Coffee Association found that 64% of Americans drink a cup of coffee every day!
It is also relatively easy to store and transport. And the best thing is that if your product is good enough it shouldn’t be too hard to find customers that buy from you on a subscription basis. The Virtina team can set up a subscription program that is automated, which means that you can just sit back and relax while the website does all the work for you. We can even make your eCommerce store handle its own tax returns and more.
The restaurants are also embracing the eCommerce way of life today. They are cutting off the middle man from delivering their own products and making more revenue from it. It also makes it easier to manage reservations, book dinners, and more. It is also an excellent platform to promote your restaurant to a wider audience.
We can help you strategize your restaurant business online and bring up the best eCommerce plan for it. You can even implement a loyalty program on your restaurant’s website and this is just one of the ways to help you boost your revenue. Our team of experts analyzes and formulate strategies that are tailor-made for your business.
Confectioneries are one of the first food and beverage businesses that shifted to the eCommerce platform. It is already a well-established sector in the F&B industry. Confectioneries are a high demand product and offer a promising market for your business. But in order to be successful in this field, your business needs to be heard of by the customers. Virtina will help you set up the right tool for this job. Everything you need to bring your business to the limelight from SEO to email marketing plugins.
Our team of experts can create a custom theme for your store that aligns with your brand and what it stands for. With the help of custom plugins you can implement special functionalities for your website. Make use of the custom functionalities on your site for attracting more customers to your website like reward programs, or get creative and implement a lucky spinning wheel.
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