That’s the power of the internet.
Online shopping is a big industry. Just look at the sale of groceries online – it’s a $6 billion market. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a sliver of that pie? Yep – you and me both.
There’s one problem: building your online business is tough. The food industry is still face-to-face. Sales are made in person. The internet simply helps you sell to brick and mortar stores.
However, over the last few years, many solutions have popped up to increase your sales to consumers from coast to coast.
Below, I’ve described a few avenues you can take to increase your online food sales. Some are more expensive than others, but none are out of reach.
Let’s take a look:
1. Your own online store
This one’s a given. At every farmer’s market and retail demo I’ve done, this question always gets asked: “Do you sell online?” And I hope your answer is yes. Selling online opens up your food product to a nation of hungry consumers. Here’s a couple of pros and cons for creating an online store”
- Another revenue channel – it’s great to sell direct to consumers, isn’t it?
- Nationwide market – customers from all over can order you product
- Meet customers – interact directly with customers to learn how they use your product.
- Inexpensive: many online stores are free or just a couple bucks a month.
- Time – it takes a while to pack up the order and ship it out
- Money – it’ll cost you a couple hundred bucks to get boxes and such
- Maintenance – keeping track of inventory and making sure your store doesn’t crash
2. Monthly subscription boxes
Subscription boxes are all the rage. There’s monthly this and monthly that. You can’t keep it straight! Getting your product into a monthly tasting box is a great way to expose your product to thousands of customers. Here are a couple other things to consider:
- Great exposure – tons of people try (and hopefully buy) your product
- Less marketing – the subscription company does all of it for you
- New customers – chance to break out of your hometown
- Expensive – all those small samples you provide add up
- Spotty ROI – you may not make your money back
- Newness – new monthly subscriptions may not be as lucrative as larger companies.
3. Square market
Even though it’s an online reseller, Square market is loaded with small stores. Plus, if you already use Square to make mobile payments at markets, fairs, and festivals, it’s a natural extension of your company.
- Easily discovered – with thousands of hits a month, customers are bound to find you on Square
- Simple setup – if you already use Square, you’ll have a store in just minutes.
- Inexpensive – same with the credit card fees, Square charges 2.75% of the sale. No monthly fees. Now, that’s awesome.
- Limited branding – you can’t quite make the store your own yet.
- Limited layouts – again, not much choice with how your product shows up
4. Online resellers
Amazon.com is huge. There’s no denying the power of selling on the world’s largest retail website. And there’s so many more online resellers, too. From Abe’s Market to Joyus, there’s plenty to go around.
- Selling to an established market – customers are already coming to the site!
- Easy setup – just send product information over and they’ll likely do the rest for you.
- Drop-shipping – you keep the inventory and ship product out when orders come in.
- Competition – look at the number of products already on the site.
- Drop-shipping – you need people to get the orders together
- Sales pressure – if your product doesn’t sell, you might be dropped from the site
5. Gift basket companies
- Less work – They put together the baskets – you just sell the product
- It’s always busy season – Gift giving is year-round
- Partnerships – Gift basket vendors like to work with the same people – you’re in it for the long-haul.
- Smaller sizes – gift basket companies like sample-size products
- Margins – they may suffer on smaller-sized product
- Inclusion – you may only be in 1 or 2 gift baskets
Selling online can be a fruitful endeavor for your food business. Whether you select one or all five of these ways to sell your food product online, you’ll be successful. After all, it’s another sales channel for your business.
How have you fared selling online? Am I missing any pros and cons or ways to sell? Let me know by leaving a comment below.