Specialty Food Magazine

FALL 2017

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://specialtyfoodmagazine.epubxp.com/i/873281

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Page 87 of 107

Julie Gallagher is managing editor of Specialty Food Magazine. Download the full session, "Building a Profitable E-Commerce Business," at learning.specialtyfood.com @ specialtyfood.com still use an old-style shipping table that bases rates on order totals. Sellers can also change a buyer's cost perception by shifting some of the shipping price to the cost of the product. Cox has learned through consumer testing that a product cost- ing $24.95 with a $5 shipping charge, for instance, is more favorable than a product costing $19.95 with a $10 shipping charge. The strat- egy works well with specialty products since their exclusivity doesn't allow for a lot of head-to-head price comparisons, he said. A well-designed, easy-to-use website is another common denominator when it comes to e-commerce success. Cox advised food makers to continually improve their site and to make it sea- sonally relevant with corresponding color palates and packaging. Visual appeal can also be achieved by investing in high-quality food photography. "In every test we've run, visually appealing pictures sell more food," he said. "Do what you have to do to make the food look great. We've all seen photography where the focus is the ham but there is so much greenery. The item you're selling needs to be the hero of the shot. Does it look good enough to eat? That's the goal." Direct-to-consumer sellers should also focus on their site's functionality and test any changes on all major browsers and ver- sions so that it's rendering as expected for all users. Navigation and organization should be easy to understand and page load times should be as quick as possible. "Anything longer than four seconds and people will leave your site," Cox warned. "It's also part of Google's algorithm to punish slow-loading sites." He also recommended using bigger "add to cart" buttons since they're more effective than smaller ones; providing a shipping calen- dar that shows specific arrival dates; and making it easy for buyers to send multiple gifts to different destinations. Order forms should require the least amount of information possible, Cox noted. "Don't make people register on your site to spend money with you," he said. "People want to have the option of not registering." Having a good handle on site traffic and a strategy for driving it, also sets successful e-commerce food businesses apart. Cox rec- ommended taking advantage of the e-commerce tracking function of Google Analytics, which he said provides a wealth of information. He also urged attendees to consider driving website traffic by using in-package coupons and calls to action such as "visit our web- site for storage tips and recipes," on products distributed through a wholesaler such as Costco. "If you have tens of thousands of boxes of your product out there it's a great way to drive traffic back to your site," he said. "Vosges Chocolate put a 10 percent off coupon in their candy bars and it was a fabulous source of traffic." Promotional emails can also be effective, but relevancy is key. When Zingerman's sent an email announcing new balsamic vinai- grettes to previous balsamic vinaigrette purchasers, the results were "phenomenal," according to Cox. Reminders about shipping cut-off dates around the holidays offer another meaningful reason to send emails to customers. "Just like with snail mail, you want to segment your list for improved performance and alter your email cadence based on pur- chase history and whether recipients are opening messages or not. Segmentation and messaging are key." Exceptional customer service is the fifth important differentia- tor at a time when Amazon is offering next-day or even same-day delivery, said Cox, who is a proponent of empowering front-line employees to do what's necessary to quickly resolve any customer issue. "Zingerman's out in Ann Arbor has built its whole business on service. Everyone in the organization is passionate about the product. They train people extensively from the founders down to those working in the stock room. You can call there and anyone who answers the phone can give you very good answers to ques- tions," he said. Cox also recommends that businesses invest in a high-end user experience, especially when their products are given as gifts. "Allen Brothers and HoneyBaked Ham do a great job with thick gold foil to wrap those hams and it just has a much higher perceived value," he said. The most tangible experience is that end box or end cooler experience so you really want to aim for a wow factor." THE FASTEST-GROWING E-COMMERCE FOOD BUSINESSES SHARE FIVE COMMON TRAITS: 1. A key differentiator, whether it's price, selection, or service 2. An adequate number of products to drive traffic to the site and a high enough profit margin 3. A well-designed, easy-to-use website 4. A strategy for driving site traffic 5. Exceptional customer service FALL 2017 83 article bug

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