How to Gain Shoppers Preference in Food Products Online?
It is a fact – winning consumer trust in food industry has never been harder. And it is even more true for selling food products online. Consumers are becoming more and more demanding when it comes to buying food. They want healthy and quality food and they increasingly want to know, how their food is produced, what the exact ingredients of food products are and where they come from. When you are selling food online, meeting these demands and giving consumers confidence in your product is crucial.
Increased Consumer Demand for Transparency in Food Production
As consumer surveys and market researches around the world show, such as those of A. T. Kearney and Nielsen, today’s consumers are more passionate about the food they eat. They are demanding increased transparency into food production for safety, ethical, and religious reasons. In their purchasing choices, they give preference to food that is deemed more “real” and healthy. Big brands seem to be on a losing streak, as consumers search for authentic, non-processed food and are embracing the free-from segments (non-genetically modified, organic, gluten/preservative/ additive-free), increasingly looking for locally sourced foods on one hand, and on the other, discovering and embracing novel, foreign ingredients like quinoa, while seeking new food experiences. But above all consumers value quality.
Quality, Freshness & Safety Guaranteed
The question of quality and freshness and the inability to inspect goods prior to purchasing seem to be the biggest obstacles to online shopping for consumable categories. According to Nielsen’s 2017 Connected Commerce Survey, more than two-thirds of online respondents globally (69%) agreed that they prefer to examine products personally, while more than six in 10 online respondents (64%) agreed that they were concerned about the freshness or quality of products purchased online.
But that does not mean consumers are not willing to shop for food products online. What they need, is additional reassurance in the quality and safety of the product as well as of the safety of their online shopping experience as a whole.
The same survey showed that more than 40 % of those who were considering buying perishable goods online, but are not buying online at the moment, would definitely be encouraged to buy online by the inclusion of freshness labels, telling them how many days the product stays fresh after it is delivered, as well as by the inclusion of detailed product descriptions about the origin of the supplier and nutritional information. If this information was backed up by a money-back guarantee for fresh produce that did not meet the consumer’s expectations, more than half of the respondents would definitely be encouraged to buy the fresh products online.
Be the Eyes & Ears of Consumers – Offer More Information
Since consumers are unable to inspect the goods prior to purchasing them with their own senses – eyes, hands, noses, and ears – online retailers need to do that for them. To be credible and to win the trust of their shoppers, food producers and retailers offering food products online need to provide consumers with at least the same amount of information as the consumers would receive by personally holding the product in their hands – like quality photos of the product, ingredients and nutrition listed on the label, possible quality labels the product holds, country of origin, allergens etc. But better yet, provide more information!
Be Transparent, Use Digital Technology & Social Media
We are living in the age of connected consumerism. Nielsen’s 2017 Connected Commerce Survey stated 3.5 billion people are using the internet, there are 7.4 billion mobile-phone subscriptions and 1.79 billion active Facebook users, and the numbers are rising. Increasingly, everything and everyone is moving online, resulting in the breaking of old habits and establishment of new ones.
Consumers not only shop online, they make an increasing amount of purchasing decisions online – they search for information, compare products, producers, shops, prices, seek advice from friends and family, as well as virtual social circles they belong to, based on their interests and preferences, give advice, share their (dis)satisfaction etc. And as mobile technology advances, much of this is going on real-time.
6 Practical Tips to Win Shoppers Preference
So, if you want to gain shoppers preference when it comes to your food products online, you have to make sure your online presence stands out in the crowds. These are the basics you can and should do:
- Be completely transparent about the ingredients and preparation process. Use digital technology solutions such as OriginTrail to communicate your food product’s origin clearly and in a consumer friendly way.
- Display any awards or food hygiene certifications prominently next to your products online.
- Add customer testimonials to your products and display reviews prominently (not just the good ones).
- Make your online presence mobile friendly. Consumers carry their mobile phones with them everywhere and use them increasingly as purchasing aids. Use available mobile technology and solutions such as OriginTrail’s mobile app as a direct communication line with your customers, at the same time offering them the benefits of knowing the exact origin of all the ingredients in your product, its nutritional value, and other useful information through the app.
- Communicate with your customers well and quickly, especially if there are any delays or other concerns about your product or their order.
- Engage with your customers through social media. Effective interactions generate excitement around your brand and keep your products at the forefront of your customers’ minds, not to mention develop brand advocates in the general public. That is why social media is where you should be investing your marketing budget. Whether this is Facebook, Twitter, sponsored blogs, Instagram, affiliate marketing or another platform, it is imperative to be part of the social chatter going forward. Social media also gives retailers and food brands more opportunities to embrace and reward consumers who use it to spread the good word on their behalf.
Do Not Compromise On Quality
But whatever you do, only sell quality food products online, make sure the quality is constant and that the delivered food products meet your customers’ expectations. The expectations you help build, if you do all of the above-mentioned things right.
As Nicolette Quaedvlieg, policy officer for Quality & Food Safety at Fresh Produce Centre, explained for HortiNext, the quality of online products should be better than what is offered by supermarkets. “You have to take it one step further. People are less disappointed when they pick up a product at the supermarket with a quality defect than if they had bought the same product with the same quality issues online. That’s simply not acceptable to them.” While Harrij Schmeitz of the Fresh Information Management Center added: “The consumer must not be disappointed. If consumers fail to find the quality they seek online, you will lose them and they will purchase their products elsewhere.”
- Ecommerce guide: Selling food online
- HortiNext: Food safety and quality critical success factors in online sales
- Nielsen: We are what we eat. Healthy eating trends around the world. January 2015
- Nielsen: What’s in-store for online grocery shopping. Omnichannel strategies to reach crossover shoppers. January 2017
- RetailDIVE: Food for thought: 7 trends set to define grocery retail in 2017
- T. Kearney: Is big food in trouble?