How to build an ecommerce business that sells food

Ecommerce business owners and food marketers share 12 tips on how to create and run a successful online food business.

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“Food photography is key,” agrees Carr Fitzpatrick. “An appetizing ecommerce site is vital to success. Our business more than doubled when we brought our photography in-house and [re-shot] our products with a consistent look and feel,” she says. “Stock imagery does not sell because today's foodie consumer is too savvy.” Rather, consumers want to see exactly what it is they are buying.

7. Make your product descriptions unique. “Every product needs a unique, memorable description,” says Sara Lancaster, the chief communicator at The Condiment Marketing Company. “Not only is this useful for search engine optimization, but clever copy writing will convert sales. Include stats (e.g., weight, ingredients, type of packaging) but also describe [the] flavor,” she advises. “Since your reader can't smell or taste what you're selling, which is presumably very tasty, take them there with your words.”

8. Include product videos. “Record your fans tasting [your product] for the first time and describing the taste,” says Lancaster. Or “do a blind taste test with your product and competing brands and video the experiment.” You could also create a video montage of customers enjoying your product(s), set to mood-enhancing music. The point is, people are very visual, and “video has impact,” she notes. And don’t forget to share your videos on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram!

9. Include customer reviews and testimonials. “Help customers decide what to choose by having reviews of the products from other consumers [on your product pages],” says Aihui Ong, founder and CEO, Love With Food, a subscription service offering all-natural and organic snack boxes. “Studies have shown that 90 percent of buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. So having this feature will help customers feel more at ease making a purchase.”

Similarly, if a customer raves about your product, on social media or via email, quote her on your website (with permission, of course).

10. Consider offering free shipping. “Just do it,” says Lancaster. “When you're competing with Amazon Prime and other [big] retailers, it's imperative to offer free shipping. To recoup costs, consider an order minimum and then markup accordingly.”

11. Make it easy to contact you. Include contact information – a phone number and email address, not just a form – on your home page and elsewhere. “Customers appreciate feeling like they can reach you if they have an issue, and it helps to establish that their concerns matter to you as a business,” says Ong.

12. Finally, don’t forget to market your business on social media. Food is visual. So be sure to share images of your products on Pinterest and Instagram, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. “Social media is a great platform for online food businesses,” says Mark Fachler, founder & COO, Veestro, which delivers healthy, organic, plant-based meals and juices. “It's visual and provides the opportunity to share.”


Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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