Successful Online Selling for Food Businesses

When it comes to online food sales are you still waiting to join the party? Now that retailers are open again it’s important to maintain your online presence to keep your customers coming back for more.

There’s still plenty of market demand for online direct sales.

Sales of food in the UK are set to break through the £21bn barrier by 2022.  The one sector fuelling this growth is the online/direct to the consumer market.  By 2022 £1 of every £11 spent on food will be spent online according to IGD Retail Analysis.

It’s safe to say that the pandemic has been the fuel that has fired online sales for local producers. Are you taking full advantage of this? Can people buy your products easily and securely online? The process needs to be as easy as possible, or you risk losing custom. Don’t have too many steps to take, or hoops to jump through. Keep it simple, don’t bombard shoppers with too much information or too many choices or they may get confused and leave. By all means, make suggestions based on their shopping habits or relevant products but just have a few.

The conversion to online food selling

During 2020/1 we switched from helping our producers, who normally market to their consumers via the farmers/local market network and person to person selling, to improving their online offering, helping them to sell via an eCommerce website. Click and collect and home delivery were the new customer experiences and we worked carefully and closely to build the best and most relevant customer experience based on their needs. 

  • One client experienced online growth of 300% from their sales in 2019 compared to 2020, and during 2021 they have maintained their sales figures through a well-crafted marketing plan.
  • Packaging was a major priority for many of our clients. Making sure that the lovingly made products arrived safely, looking good and were fit for consumption.
  • One of our clients has told us how much easier it has been running their business since we created their new eCommerce website. Not only were they able to handle the increase in orders, but they were also able to send out thank you and follow-up emails, keep stock levels updated and easily manage their customer base. This allowed them to concentrate on fulfilling orders and growing their business.
side oven fruit loaf

Maintaining demand for online sales

Now that things are returning to some sort of normality it’s important to create a plan to maintain the growth of the last 18 months. Even an overnight success (and there have been a few) needs a long term marketing and sales strategy to keep them in the game and grow to a profitable business. We have worked with our clients to help them keep their new customers, whether that is through outstanding customer service, increasing their product range or offering a service that you just don’t get anywhere else.

There are still many people who are afraid to visit shops and supermarkets, and online shopping has helped them get the products they love delivered straight to the door. Some people have just got used to the convenience of buying online, and like to support local artisan producers.

Whatever the reason, online shopping is here to stay and we can help make the process smooth for everyone.

Specific issues for Local Food Producers

  • Losing your personality.  For many of our local producers, their passion is the reason they make the unique food products they do and the fear that this would be lost when the markets closed was real.  Through packaging and leafleting and keeping in touch through email with product developments and news we have replaced that fear with a much more robust relationship.  Social media which a huge part of the population flocked to in their droves has enabled us to help our clients show really great stories of products, unique food-producing methods and the behind-the-scenes goings-on in quirky memorable ways.
  • Missing the fun! For many they loved the banter of manufacturing, wrapping, packing and going to market to sell to and meet their regular clientele.  We are all missing this element in our lives for sure, but where is the opportunity? Through direct mail and having a customer-friendly eCommerce site with a click and collect, delivery or mail-order service we were able to increase delivery options as well as fulfil their regular customers’ needs.
  • Communicating through media rather than in person. For many, they loved what they did because of the people they met, whether consumers or wholesalers. At Yorkshire Media, we have helped them choose the right social media platform(s) and helped them created their own strategy of storytelling and content they want to share so they can continue to engage with their audience, keep in touch and sell their produce.
  • Challenging Values. Every producer has their own reason why they do what they do, for some it’s a side hustle, while for others it’s a full-on commitment to building a stand-alone profitable food business.  We can help you decide which online route is the best for you.
malton food market

If all of this sounds daunting we can help. We have worked with a lot of food and drink companies to improve their online presence, reach new markets and grow their business.

Get in touch on 01964 542916 or email hello@yorkshiremedia.co.uk for a no-obligation chat.