24 July 2020, 08:18 AM
  • Quality produce, a strong service and communicating with customers are the ingredients needed to stand out from the crowd
How to: Sell cheese online

With online sales soaring during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, many cheesemongers are making the essential pivot to selling their cheese offering online. When it comes to buying fine cheeses, and especially when it comes to trying something new, the advantage for customers coming into the store is the opportunity to sample and discuss the various options. When it comes to selling online, people still need to feel that they have been armed with all the information needed to make the right choices as well as experiencing top-notch service. So what are the key ingredients to clinching those sales?

Grab every opportunity
According to Matthew March-Smith, co-founder of online cheese destination Pong, it’s essential that your website is able to convert at every opportunity. “If you’re a retailer and you want a successful online shop, you must approach its build and marketing with a thorough understanding and strategy of it as a series of ‘conversion’ points,” he explains. “From the beginning of the customer journey, for example sitting on the sofa, at a laptop and entering ‘order cheese delivery’ into Google, all the way through to the text beside the ‘Checkout Now’ button at the end of the order process, every stage is an opportunity to convert or not convert a sale. The ranking in the search results and consequent traffic into relevant pages, your ‘bounce rate’ from your landing page (how many customers simply take a look and leave), your prices and average order value, your basket abandonment rate and ultimately your eventual conversion rate; all of these together will have a huge impact on how successful your online shop is.”

The customer journey is key
Keeping your customer in mind when it comes to the layout and inventory of products is also part of the process of being able to convert into sales. Keep bestsellers at the forefront and seasonal produce should be highlighted when appropriate. For example, during the Christmas selling season ensure that popular cheeses such as Bries and Stiltons are easy to find. Keep descriptions of cheeses clear and concise to avoid online shoppers feeling overwhelmed, but ensure that all important information remains. Use your knowledge of ideal cheese companions to suggest perfect pairings that encourage upselling.

The run up to Christmas is the ideal time to kick this into action and can provide the opportunity to recommend multiple accompaniments and added value items. For instance, push your selection of premium crackers at every opportunity – could you create a chance for people to size up for a good price? If selling wine and spirits is also in your remit then recommending cheese and alcohol pairings is also a great way to ensure that customers are getting everything they need in one fell swoop.

Communication, communication, communication
These days the online selling sphere is so much more than just having a website, and engaging with customers in as many ways as possible is the key to success. Unlike an in-store experience, customers are not able to ask questions off the cuff, so a FAQ section can answer popular questions as well as be a place for cutting and storing tips. If you have the resources, a live chat option could also be a way to allow customers to be able to have questions answered quickly and efficiently in order to go ahead with their purchase. Communication should still be continuing even after customers have paid for their order and left the website. Email marketing allows retailers to carry on letting customers know about new produce, special offers and even offer more information or background into the brands and producers that they stock. Stay focused on what needs to be gained from each newsletter or email correspondence and ensure that all content is relevant and adds value to current and potential shoppers.

Social media also comes under the selling cheese online umbrella, and allows retailers to add an extra personal touch to their services. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram offer the chance to showcase produce, recipe ideas and to connect with customers. Keeping the customer experience at the top of the list will ensure that setting up shop online is a success.

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