The online food market represents a massive opportunity for ecommerce brands.
Forecasts for the future suggest that 70% of US shoppers could be buying groceries online by as early as 2022. Sounds exciting right? But let’s put that number in context within the overall food industry.
Food ecommerce is expected to account for just 2.5% of total US food and beverage retail sales this year. Compare that to non-food ecommerce, which is projected to hit around 17.5% of total non-food retail sales in 2018.
This means there is a smaller slice of the (apple) pie to go around for ecommerce food brands, and competition is already fierce. So how do you build a brand that stands out from the rest? You have to offer something unique, compelling, and, of course, delicious.
To help you carve out your slice of the pie, we’ve put together a list of the best ecommerce food brands to provide inspiration for your own marketing. Learn from the best, and hopefully, your ecommerce food brand can find a space to thrive.
Product ordering, fresh food delivery, and a respected brand
Obvious choice, right? Amazon already dominates ecommerce, with its market share expected to rise to 49% by the end of 2018. It also already has an 18% share of the online food and beverage market. This is more than double Walmart’s share.
So what has led to Amazon’s success in the ecommerce food market? The introduction of Prime Pantry helped cement its dominance by allowing Prime customers to order single items in everyday sizes instead of in bulk, eliminating cost-prohibitive delivery fees. If you live in Seattle, Northern California, Southern California, New York, or Philadelphia, you can also use AmazonFresh, the same-day fresh food delivery service. This helps overcome the typical customers’ reluctance to buy fresh food online.
Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods has also helped it increase share, with a quarter of Amazon customers saying that they are more likely to purchase groceries from Amazon now that Whole Foods is part of the Amazon family of brands.
Social media mastery powers food ecommerce
Owned by Buzzfeed, food network and online retailer Tasty is leading the way when it comes to growing a brand through social media. While food is one of the more social media-friendly industries, Tasty now has more Instagram followers than Starbucks. The company mostly posts videos of recipes, but you can then head over to the website to buy the recipe book, meal kits, or the One Top multi-use kitchen appliance.
3. Tea Forte
Data targets the perfect audience
Not all brands have the resources to appeal to such a wide audience as Amazon and Walmart. That’s why it’s key to understand your customer niche and go hard for that audience. That’s just what luxury ecommerce brand Tea Forte does. The company knows the ideal target for is 45-55 years old, has a high disposable income, is interested in health and wellness, and are well-traveled.
To best serve these customers and drive beverage sales, Tea Forte unifies customer data across channels and platforms to can understand what products buyers love, what they buy most, and what kind of messages to send to buyers. That allows the Tea Forte team to tailor and personalize marketing campaigns and achieve better results.
Delivery innovation at scale
As Amazon introduces new services and buys companies to conquer the food market, Walmart is trying to keep in touch by offering its own innovations in online groceries. Delivery is one area that differentiates the best ecommerce food brands from the rest. This is why Walmart’s new delivery service makes it stand out.
The company partnered with smart-lock startup August Home to allow a delivery person to enter a customer’s home securely, and put grocery orders in their refrigerators. Check out the video below to see how it works in more detail. This is seriously innovative, and solves one of the major concerns with fresh food delivery.
5. Beer Hawk
Embrace omnichannel marketing
Fully embracing omnichannel marketing is crucial to the success of any brand. Sometimes that means targeting brick-and-mortar locations, even if you are a pure play ecommerce retailer. That’s exactly what online beer retailer Beer Hawk did. While you can buy beer from them directly only, they also decided to open a physical location to better interact with customers.
In the case of Beer Hawk, the company offers value by hunting out the world’s best beers. The physical store allows customers to taste the drinks, buy in-store, as well as order in-store and get the beer delivered to their homes. This helps the brand join up different channels and create a seamless experience for buyers.
Focus on cutting-edge technology
There’s a reason that online wholesale grocer Boxed is rumored for acquisition by the likes of Amazon and Alibaba. The company describes itself as an online version of a bulk-buy wholesale club that targets millennial shoppers. Boxed has specifically been investing in technology to make it stand out.
The company introduced group ordering, which allows collaborators to add and delete items or invite others to participate. This is aimed at group households like students or young people sharing an apartment, as well as businesses. Also great for groups, Boxed offers the ability to divide the price of the order and charge participants for their share through Venmo. Then there is the augmented reality feature in Boxed’s mobile apps, which lets shoppers see the size of items and visualize whether they will fit on their shelves or in their cupboards. All-in-all, it’s a pretty impressive ecommerce food shopping experience.
Solve a customer problem
Cake company Bakerdays offers personalized cakes with next day delivery to your home, but they go a step further. The brand also solves the problem of a grocery delivery when you are not at home. This is a particularly difficult problem when delivering food items as fresh and delicate as cake.
So how do they pull it off? Bakerdays makes small cakes for one to two people that fit through the letter slot of most doors. It’s an impressive way to solve what many would consider a tough customer problem. Bakerdays then provides opportunities for upsell and cross-sell by offering other products and accessories, such as personalized helium balloons, candles, and gift items.
Subscriptions for consistent business
One way to get a consistent revenue from online food orders is through a subscription service. Meal kit provider HelloFresh has overtaken Blue Apron in terms of customer satisfaction according to YouGov’s Impression score, which asks respondents if they hold an overall positive or negative impression of a particular brand.
The company has been advertising on a massive scale, with a clear message and brand strategy: be funny and quirky, while showing how easy it is to create a tasty dinner from its meal kit boxes. Despite the demise of a few of its competitors, HelloFresh has shown that through clever marketing and good use of data, meal kit boxes can work as a sustainable business.
Convenience, speed, and delivery price
Sainsbury’s is a British grocery retailer that is also overcoming the problem of delivering fresh food to its customers. They offer their customers the convenience and speed necessary for success in the fresh food market.
Take the example of a pint of milk. You’re more likely to run out to the grocery store if you run out, rather than order it online. Sainsbury’s offers an alternative. The retailer’s Chop Chop service delivers up to 20 items to your door if you live in London within 60 minutes with no minimum basket spend. The delivery charge is reasonable too (£4.99, which is approximately $6.50).
Over to you
We’ve provided you with our pick of the best ecommerce food brands, but we’d love to hear what you think. Let us know which companies inspire you to achieve greater success and inspire you to step up your marketing game.