A recent IRI study found that online grocery will be a $100B business by 2022. For most manufacturers, this represents a not insignificant portion of total sales. Accordingly, here at Chicory, we have talked with numerous brands that ask us how to approach the swiftly advancing user shift to digital grocery shopping.

While nascent grocery eCommerce still has some maturing to do, food and CPG brand should begin preparing now. There are a few steps that must be taken when implementing an eCommerce strategy. Here are five ways to jump start your plan and get ahead of the competition.

Get Assets in Order

A major hurdle for CPG manufacturers is that product catalogues continuously change and so do retailer relationships. The very first thing to address in your eCommerce strategy, then, is take stock of your assets.

  • What SKUs are sold at which retailers?
  • Does that retailer sell every item online as well?
  • Does your retailer have the correct product descriptions and most up-to-date images for those items?
  • Do you have consistent assets across various retailers selling the same product?

Moving your products online means that you will start to have a direct relationship with the consumer. Make sure that your branding and assets are consistent everywhere that you are present.

Use Data to Build Your Customer Persona(s)

You may oversee eCommerce for a brand that has existed for years, possibly decades. So, your company probably has a good idea of what your “ideal” customer looks like. While this is a good starting point, odds are, your online shopper is going to be different from your customers of old. The good news, though, is that with an online shopper, you can make use of the wealth of data that the move to digital has made available.

To understand the brick and mortar consumer, you would have gone to a company like Nielsen. With online shoppers, you can start to get data from your owned media as well as companies that touch the consumer along the shopper’s online path to purchase. Online data is valuable because you can start layering to create complex shopper profiles and understand your customer better than ever before.

Leverage Owned Media

One of the great things about the transition to digital is that your brand can now have a direct relationship with the consumer. Chances are your company already has some of these tools:

  • Social media pages
  • Recipe pages
  • Nutritional information
  • Product pages

These are all assets that you can start leveraging tomorrow. Why are people coming to your website or liking your Facebook page? How can you transform those properties into a platform to experiment with different eCommerce strategies? Use your website and social channels to talk to people and ask more questions. Similarly, track every click and interaction to know what works for your brand.

Here at Chicory, we think that this type of owned media can one day become a huge win for both brands and retailers, driving eCommerce awareness and eventually facilitating purchases through the direct relationship with the consumer.

Build Awareness

The research tells us that online grocery consumption is going to grow. But that doesn’t guarantee that your growth will be the same or that it will be on par with your competitors. Awareness is going to be crucial.

Start thinking like a B2C company. If you started to sell your products on Amazon, make sure that your customers see that everywhere! Without physical shelves and the ability to be slotted in a prime location, it is on you to make sure that your customer not only knows that you exist, but knows where to buy your products.

For the time being, unlike a direct-to-consumer company, you aren’t going to know a direct ROI correlation. But, your company is most likely spending money on brand awareness and shopper marketing campaigns. It won’t hurt to incorporate eCommerce awareness into those existing initiatives.

Think Outside the Box

eCommerce has the potential to bring radical change to the way manufacturers and retailers do business. Your job as a manufacturer isn’t as easy as creating a marketing strategy. Think about how eCommerce can change business processes within your organization. How might other departments benefit from what you are doing? How might you leverage your direct to consumer relationship with other partners?

Embrace this new frontier. Try new things. Be an innovative category leader.

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