Amazon and other popular online shopping sites have made it easier and easier to search for products and have them delivered right to our doorsteps.
So, perhaps it’s not surprising that the people in charge of making purchases on behalf of businesses are beginning to expect the same kind of experience. They expect shopping to be streamlined, personalized, and convenient.
Business-to-business companies that are able to provide this kind of frictionless purchasing experience for their customers will naturally have an edge over their competitors. This may be especially true in the crowded food and beverage manufacturing industry. Food manufacturers that are able to put their products up for sale online quickly and effectively can boost revenue and clarify their place in the market.
Here are a few ways the best food manufacturers are adapting to the world of eCommerce.
Dynamic Pricing and Quicker Quotes
Setting prices for products is never a simple process, but it can get even more complicated for food and beverage manufacturers.
These businesses must adjust prices in real-time to account for shifts in supply and demand and supply chain interruptions. This means making pricing adjustments in response to factors such as disease outbreaks, import suspensions, disasters, and weather events.
This constant analysis has traditionally made for a cumbersome process, as industry consultant Fabio Freitas writes in this Manufacturing.net article. In the traditional pricing model, all deals are required to go through an extensive approval process that relies on intuition and lacks transparency. There’s usually a time-consuming negotiation process as companies strive to protect their profit margins. This traditional model is not suited to the fast-paced style of the digital age. These days, a delay in a quote or in getting products up for sale can mean big losses. The column even references a survey of manufacturing leaders that found that “fair pricing and quote turnaround time were two of the most common points of frustration for their customers.” Price negotiations were cited as a major culprit in slow turnarounds and order fulfillment.
Food manufacturers need to be able to “price at market speed,” Freitas writes, by leveraging what he calls “dynamic pricing software” that uses algorithms and machine-guided learning. These programs can help company leaders inform pricing decisions quickly and spot patterns that can help with strategic decision-making.
Selling Directly to Consumers Online
Many food manufacturers still rely on relationships with retailers for the majority of their sales.
However, this may be changing as more consumers get comfortable with ordering food and beverages directly online. Food manufacturers that fail to give consumers a chance to buy directly from a user-friendly web store could be missing out on a big revenue boost.
As we mentioned in our post on providing a totally integrated shopping experience for your customers, today’s cloud-based POS systems can connect directly and seamlessly with your website. These POS systems integrate in-store sales, online sales, and wholesale orders into the same system, which makes it much easier to manage inventory and analyze data across all sales channels.
You can also use your web store to sell other retail products, such as branded apparel and accessories, to diversify sales. A web store also makes it much easier to showcase and link to special products to boost their sales.
For example, London-based craft beer seller Hop Burns Black explains on the Vend blog that their POS system actually boosts sales by allowing them to upload new products to the site more quickly than competitors, taking advantage of their fans’ desires to get the best beers right away.
As Hop Burns Black co-owner Jen Ferguson notes, “Hardcore beer fans don’t want to wait to get their hands on the newest must-have beers.”
A professional online store can also be a great way to give other potential partners and retailers an introduction to your brand. Interested parties can browse through your products, look at pictures, and check out customer reviews, which can go a long way toward convincing them to buy before they’ve even tasted your product.
Creating a Personalized Experience
Many of the digital tools that consumers love today to leverage data to make personalized suggestions for individual consumers.
We’ve grown used to Netflix’s suggested shows based on our viewing patterns, for example, and Amazon’s recommended products based on what we’ve purchased.
Food and beverage manufacturers can give their consumers a similar experience by working to target their products to individual consumers.
Many cloud-based point-of-sale systems can do this within your web store with product recommendation apps.
But creating a personalized experience is also important for your wholesale customers and retail customers. Sometimes, this personalization is done the old-fashioned way, without the use of digital tools.
This Shopify guide on how to start a food business gives a great example of such personalization in McClure’s, a specialty pickle business.
McClure’s staff worked to develop personal relationships with retailers and incentivized them to get invested in its mission with direct interaction. They interact with retail partners directly to create menu pairings and plan events that focus around a combination of the retailer’s other products and their own. Food and beverage manufacturers can make similar efforts with restaurants and farmers’ markets, working to create win-win arrangements that boost sales for everyone.
As Freitas wrote, customers aren’t just buying a food product. They’re looking for manufacturers that will be pleasant to work with, that will make their own jobs easier, and that will drive their own profitability. By doing everything you can to help them drive that profitability, you create valuable relationships that last for the long term.
Telling a Story to Stand Out
There are plenty of food products on the market today, in every conceivable category. As more and more food and beverage manufacturers develop their online presence, you need a way to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
One way to do that is by cultivating a “story” for your brand and your products, then telling that story effectively online.
Focus on what makes your products different, better, or more interesting than your competitors. Make sure that the advantages are clear to your website visitors and that your company’s unique personality stands out.
Your brand story could explore where the ingredients in your products are sourced, where your special recipes come from, and how your owners developed their passion.
Then, give customers a way to connect with that story by following you on social media or through email.
How to Choose a Software System to Power Your Manufacturing Business
Your cloud-based POS system will be the cornerstone of your company’s eCommerce strategy. Choosing one that’s equipped with the right tools can make or break your company’s efforts to stay relevant in a quickly changing digital landscape.
You’ll need a system that enables you to do the following things:
- Sell wholesale and retail from one seamless system
- Sell in-person and online from one seamless system
- Observe important trends and data across all channels
- Upload and manage products
- Market your products beautifully
- Connect to your audience online
There are many powerful tools that food and beverage manufacturers can use to accomplish these goals.
If you want to learn more about all of the options available to you, we’d love to hear from you at Cloudscape Technologies. Our mission is to empower business owners in their pursuit of the very best cloud-based business software. We partner with the industry’s top solution providers to get businesses like yours up and running with their new systems quickly and smoothly.