3 simple tips for selling food and drink online

07 December 2020, 08:12 AM
  • Nikita Yan, managing partner at Studio More!, explains how can brands and retailers can boost their online sales and make their products more discoverable
3 simple tips for selling food and drink online

As the country has made a significant shift to online sales this year, many independent retailers and brands have realised they are struggling to get their existing clientele to order their long-standing favourites online rather than pick them up in person.

Here, I explore how brands and retailers can grow online sales revenues with some simple-to-implement design principles.

Visibility & clarity: the basic rules of brand pack design

Packaging design has long been focused on as the holy grail of ‘shelf standout’. But in 2020, more than ever before, we’ve had a more challenging brief: It’s not just about standing out from the competition anymore, but also capturing and retaining the short attention span of the online consumer.

There are a few golden rules to follow to stand your brand in good stead for selling online. 

Firstly, be mindful that the two main downfalls with the online presentation are:
1. Product images are likely to be much smaller than the actual size of the product
2. You are only showing the front of the pack.

When consumers are used to buying brands within a physical retail environment, they simply see the brand as more prominent because the pack is larger. They’re able to make out finer detail and text by touching the product and seeing the other sides of the packaging. When sales shift online, it’s common to see a drop in revenue because consumers simply can’t recognise the packaging anymore.

To alleviate this, the front of the pack design needs to be as clean and clear as possible. Well-established brands should distil their brand design down to the core qualities that the consumer recognises. Be ruthless about removing anything that doesn’t serve to aid consumer recognition. Smaller brands can take the risk and let product description, or name, have the top hierarchy, followed by the brand itself.

But there is a complication here: 2020 has also witnessed a mass shift in consumers’ mindset towards health-consciousness. So, whilst we are strongly in favour of ‘decluttering’ the pack, it’s also crucial to avoid making the front of the pack look so stripped back as to seem ‘artificial’.

And of course, if the brand has a broader portfolio, it’s more important now than ever before to make it as easy to navigate the range as possible. Use the time-old tools of colour and other visual cues to drive recognition of different variants.

Tried & tested: the basic rules of an e-commerce site

If you are a retailer moving online for the first time this year or getting more serious about your e-commerce offering, don’t reinvent the wheel just yet. Stick to a good e-commerce platform that offers a wide range of layout options.

A good platform will allow you to ‘stock’ and manage a range in excess of 100,000 products (so you’re unlikely to outgrow it any time soon); whilst giving you the flexibility to update other content regularly – such as featured products, promotions and marketing initiatives.

All of these work to lengthen the consumer’s attention span on-site and ensure they’re more likely to come back.

And just a little note: Please, please make sure there is a BUY button on each page. It sounds simple, but too often, retailers fail to make this easily noticeable and leave money on the table as a result.

Humanity & personality: the basic rules of marketing communication

Whether you’re a retailer or a brand, it’s likely social media and email have become more critical to driving traffic to your business than ever before. And with it comes the inevitable struggle to create engaging, valuable content that enriches (or at least doesn’t annoy) the consumers, whilst keeping you in front of mind. 

Whichever communication platforms you choose to use, please don’t consider it a one-way megaphone. Be engaging, interact with your audience, thank people, answer questions. Take the newsletter as an example: make sure you personalise it using merge tags, consider signing it off yourself (as the most senior person in the business) rather than using the third person ‘we’ throughout, which reeks of megaphone-style email blasting.

And, above all, let your copy radiate your natural tone of voice. We find a great test of tone is to read the email back: does it sound like you’re talking to a friend that you admire? I.e. respectful of their intelligence, but also friendly and warm.

Ultimately, you should treat your consumers as you wish to be treated yourself. People swiftly see through false personas.

Brands and retailers alike, now more than ever, need to be pros at communicating your point of difference. Understand that terms like Organic and All Natural are the new norms; they shouldn’t be your unique selling proposition.

Furthermore, use descriptors on the products you sell to improve consumer understanding, and not to alienate them with jargon. In the absence of in-store trial, it’s become more crucial than ever to communicate what they should expect before they buy. The penalty for not addressing this are declining sales and rising return rates.

Take the time to consider your brand personality and what interests your customer has revealed to you. Explore this intersection for themes and generate content plans accordingly. Don’t be tempted to post or send something on the fly, because you’re aware that you haven’t emailed for a while.

And above all, be consistent: your customers will subliminally appreciate the dependability of your brand presence and be more inclined to buy from you if you crop up in their inbox or social feed on a regular (but not invasive) basis, with relevant news and offers.

Image courtesy of Studio More

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