Many food suppliers, such as manufacturers and importers, achieve virtually all of their sales through the webshops of wholesalers or retailers. That means it is very important to be properly represented in those webshops. Yet we find that many of our customers pay far too little attention to that fact.
7 reasons to focus more on e-commerce
Based on research conducted, we know that in the Dutch foodservice and bakery sector, 85% of all purchases are made online. That percentage is a bit lower in Belgium. The rest is achieved in self-service wholesale, ordered by phone or via email. When you look at it that way, it’s really an open door: Of course you want to look your absolute best in the important shops!
Want 7 more reasons? Here are the essentials when it comes to product information for e-commerce:
1. being easy to find
Roughly 90% of food professionals do their research for new purchases by searching on Google. Approximately 70% do so on a very regular basis, according to research conducted by GROUP7 and Het Nederlands Kokspanel. We also wrote about this in our previous article ‘Getting more results from webshops’. A good product name and comprehensive description greatly increase your chances of being found.
Remember that more and more online shops are ‘open’: you can see the products in the webshop, even without logging in.
When you search for a brand name or generic name, you often find retailers and wholesalers that carry that particular product. You end up on a product detail page and that’s exactly what you want. Being easy to find is essential for food e-commerce.
2. Be inspiring and sell more
Wholesaler websites are the no. 1 source of information and inspiration. About 30% of all hospitality professionals consult wholesaler websites/shops on a weekly basis for that purpose, according to research conducted by Het Nederlands Kokspanel and Foodservice Community Belgium. When you offer a wealth of information about your product – what you can use it for, what its unique benefits are, how to serve it, what it can be combined with, etc – you will be easier to find and more appreciated. And your product will be added to order lists sooner.
This is how wholesaler webshops become sales channels that can be leveraged to attract new customers. And once you make it on the order list, you usually stay there for a long time for repeat purchases.
3. Provide a great customer experience
Remember that professional buyers on webshops are usually in a rush. ‘Too little time’ is the absolute number one challenge facing entrepreneurs and (especially!) chefs. In fact, there is a lack of skilled workers to be found in the kitchen. And on top of that, there is a lot of pressure in terms of costs. This all means that orders need to be placed quickly. Not being able to find a product is then a huge inconvenience for buyers. Moreover – open door – you miss out on sales as a provider when buyers are quick to opt for an alternative.
4. Building (or maintaining) your brand
The average buyer visits their primary wholesaler’s webshop as many as 10 to 20 times a week. Orders are not placed all at once, of course. For example, there are changes and small additions. And many companies get two or three deliveries a week. Isn’t it strange then that this exact place is not properly used for marketing communications?
Manufacturers – especially those with A-brands – spend a lot of time and money on marketing communications. Their own media (websites and socials), advertisements, brochures, exhibition stands are usually top-notch. You can make good use of wholesaler webshops to communicate all the unique benefits of your brand and products. So make good use of those opportunities. There is no other place where you can reach your (potential) customer as often as on webshops. Moreover, this is also the place to actually sell that product. In short: webshops are the ideal environment for marketing.
5. AVOID WASTING TIME AND MAKING MISTAKES
Missing product information will inevitably lead to questions from customers. So if you spend little time working on webshops, it won’t save you time at all in the end, it will actually cost you more.
In practice, we also see that it can be difficult to distinguish one product from another. And that in turn, that creates frustration with the supplier. There is a decent chance that the frustration here will be directed towards the manufacturer.
6. Selling effectively
All that effort you put into selling can easily be wiped away with weak product information. This happens when a customer is still not able to find the desired product in the end, or remains uncertain about whether it is the right one.
Suppose a customer has gotten excited about a particular product because of a certain advantage it has (e.g. lactose-free), but that advantage is not mentioned on the webshop. There’s a strong chance the sale will not go through. Or an item is so poorly photographed that they end up with doubts. This means that any previous sales efforts will still be wasted.
7. Complying with obligations
Among other information, the product name, ingredients, allergens, nutritional values, storage instructions and alcohol volume of your items need to be listed on the page where a product can be purchased. That obligation officially falls on the party selling the product, i.e. usually the wholesaler. The wholesaler, in turn, makes the supplier responsible for providing that information. In the food sector, this is very often done through PS in foodservice, a specialist in this kind of product information.
Listing product information in conjunction with PS in foodservice is excellent for both manufacturers and wholesalers or e-commerce platforms. And fortunately, there are plenty of great examples.
However, we also see a lot of situations where certain components are missing. In day-to-day practice, we encounter wholesalers who are unable to display all of their product information on webshops, usually due to outdated software or software that is hard to customise. And we also come across manufacturers who do not provide complete product information.
Working on your ‘Perfect Store Online’
A Perfect Store Online is a webshop where customers can find the right products in the right place, presented in the best possible way to influence their purchase behaviour. In a future article, we will list what you can do to achieve that. We will show you how a perfect store can help you achieve successful e-commerce in the food sector.
GROUP7 also has a Perfect Store Check guide, which you can download for free. See the banner below.
Surveys by Het Nederlands Kokspanel and Foodservice Community were used for this article.
Mandatory product information via Voedingveilig