Food eCommerce is one of the fastest-growing product categories in eCommerce, experiencing year-over-year growth of 58.5% during 2020. According to Statista, the industry is forecast to bring in nearly $26 billion in 2022.
This major eCommerce growth signals how consumers are becoming more reliant on online shopping to meet their needs in the food and beverage category.
So, what can businesses in this space do to leverage this growing consumer interest?
In this post, we're going to cover the biggest food eCommerce trends in 2022 that are helping food and beverage brands to gain market share and boost online sales.
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What is Food eCommerce?
Food eCommerce is where food and beverage businesses sell products via an eCommerce platform or online store. This includes fresh and non-perishable items, as well as everyday or specialty goods.
Despite being one of the biggest sources of expenditure for consumers, food eCommerce has been relatively slow to take off compared to other product categories. This has been due to the difficulty of transporting perishable products to the end customer, promptly.
But with the rise of same-day delivery and delivery apps such as Instacart and UberEats, it's never been easier for brands to guarantee speedy delivery and near-instant gratification.
Without further ado, let's take a look at the biggest food eCommerce trends that are influencing how brands sell food online:
Top 9 food eCommerce trends
Consumers expect fast shipping & deliveries
Having a super-fast delivery service is a must for any online business, especially when selling food and drink. Many food and beverage products are occasion-based, such as bottles of champagne or birthday cakes. This means that timely delivery is essential to ensure a positive customer experience.
Plus, when a customer gets a craving, they want their favorite snacks right then and there. The rise of same-day delivery methods such as UberEats, Deliveroo, and Instacart has upped customer expectations for seamless delivery.
Studies show that 88% of consumers are willing to pay for same-day delivery, so this trend is one that all food producers should be paying attention to.
Ethics and transparency
Consumers are more conscious of the impact of their purchasing habits than ever before. From the environmental degradation caused by palm oil plantations to slave labor in supply chains, shoppers increasingly want to see evidence that food brands are ethical in their operations.
Transparency and ethical selling can take many forms in this industry. It requires providing a full and detailed list of ingredients and information on where they are sourced from.
It also means allowing customer reviews to be placed on your product pages so that prospective shoppers can make an informed decision about whether to purchase. 93% of consumers say that online reviews influence their purchasing decisions!
When we think of subscriptions, it's usually fashion, beauty, or wellness offerings that come to mind. Yet curated or replenishment subscription business models are quickly becoming one of the biggest trends in the food and beverage space.
Enrollment in subscription programs surged by 48% in 2020 over the previous year, with a 25% increase in the food and beverage category alone. Meal kits, which saw a big increase in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, are behind much of this growth.
Food subscriptions mark a significant change in consumer behavior as shoppers look for convenient, reliable, and most importantly safe solutions to restock their pantries and experiment with new brands and products.
Personalized shopping journeys are becoming really popular in this niche. Research by Epsilon found that 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when a brand offers personalized experiences.
Beverage eCommerce is no exception. Personalized product recommendations and even personalized product offerings should all be on the table (pun intended) if food brands want to deliver a memorable shopping experience.
Although shopping cart abandonment rates in the food industry are lower than in other categories, they still represent a lot of lost revenue. Personalized cart abandonment emails that offer prospective customers a discount code or free shipping are an excellent way to entice customers to purchase.
Cross-selling is where brands suggest companion products related to items that a customer has selected. It’s a widespread eCommerce trend designed to boost the value of retail sales. Prompts such as 'people also frequently purchased' and 'shoppers are also interested in' provide eCommerce businesses with ample opportunities to maximize each transaction.
Cross-sells can be particularly lucrative in the food and beverage industries, where products span a wide price range from high-end to affordable. For example, beverage companies often present mixers alongside expensive spirits to entice shoppers to add extra products to their cart.
Luxury and niche products
As competition in the food and beverage space heats up, food production has gone artisan in a big way. Thanks to nostalgia, changing eating habits, and more consumers appreciating the finer things in life, the shift towards craft ingredients and small-scale production has become a major trend.
In the past five years, the artisan food and beverage sector has experienced a 28% annual growth rate, according to Innova Market Insights research.
Naturally, small-batch production and high-end ingredients mean that artisan foods go hand-in-hand with the growth of the luxury food market. But to justify high price tags, brands need to offer both a superior shopping experience and product-centered marketing that explains why they are worth the extra cost.
Mobile eCommerce (or “M-commerce”) has grown rapidly thanks to increasing smartphone penetration. According to Statista, 72.9% of all retail eCommerce sales were generated from mobile commerce - up from 58.9% in 2017.
Because it enables consumers to shop on the go, it's opened up far more opportunities for food and beverage brands to get in front of customers at key times of day - like the much-anticipated lunch break or the 3 pm craving!
With apps like UberEats just a tap away, this has made mobile commerce an important industry trend.
It's no secret that social media and food eCommerce are a match made in heaven. All of those beautifully-lit images and videos of desserts, cocktails, and cakes have made platforms such as Instagram and TikTok magnets for foodies everywhere.
As result, influencer marketing has rapidly become a popular tactic by food eCommerce brands to produce user-generated content, gain glowing endorsements from key figures, or produce viral influencer campaigns that boost brand engagement and drive traffic and sales.
There's a common saying that two heads are better than one, and this certainly rings true in the world of co-marketing and brand collaboration.
By pairing up with another food or beverage brand for a social media campaign or content marketing initiative, food businesses can extend their reach and increase brand awareness amongst new audience segments. This is a particularly good strategy for up-and-coming brands, who can leverage the larger followings of better-known food producers or influencers to increase their profiles.
However, it's important to make sure that any potential partnership is a good fit for your brand and reflects a series of shared values. Otherwise, you can end up diluting your brand identity and/or confusing loyal customers.
The 8 Hottest (or coolest) food & beverage businesses
1. My Muesli
My Museli is a German company that allows customers to choose from over 80 different muesli blends and have them delivered to their door. Online shoppers can also create their own custom muesli, enabling them to meet dietary requirements or preferences through the complete personalization of the product.
Their interactive Museli Mixer tool makes it easy for consumers to design their muesli at home or on the go via mobile. Shoppers can filter between different ingredients and even save their favorite blends to reorder at any time, creating a convenient and user-friendly service that enhances customer loyalty.
2. Gin Kingdom
Gin Kingdom is a specialty gin store that sells varieties of gin from around the world, in addition to accessories like tonic and glassware.
Like many beverage businesses, Gin Kingdom aims to boost Average Order Value (AOV) by enticing customers to purchase additional items. Their front page predominantly features pre-assembled gift sets and low-priced complementary products:
Showing related products online enables Gin Kingdom to cross-sell effectively to customers and gain an edge in a competitive space like the beverage industry. Gin Kingdom also offers express delivery services to the United States, helping to create hassle-free customer journeys that meet expectations for rapid delivery.
3. Angel's Cup (subscription)
Coffee subscriptions are an over-saturated category. Angel's Cup has found a point of difference by offering coffee lovers a boutique tasting experience on a monthly, bi-monthly, or weekly basis.
All subscribers receive samples of single-origin coffee beans that are designed for 'blind tasting'. Angel's Cup encourages people to taste each coffee before checking its origin and tasting note to improve their tastebuds, creating a unique consumer shopping experience that boosts customer satisfaction.
Giapo is an ice cream parlor based in Auckland, New Zealand. It's become famous internationally for pushing the boundaries with unique flavors and luxury flair.
Their drool-worthy Instagram showcases their innovations, from 3D-printed chocolate to so-called 'selfie cones.' They've also entered into noteworthy partnerships with major brands including Nespresso to showcase how they inject a bit of luxury and fun into everyday life.
It's a powerful content marketing strategy that has won Giapo legions of fans and glowing customer reviews online.
5. The Mediterranean Food Co
The Mediterranean Food Co has operated as an Italian grocery store since 2001. It sells food including specialty meats and cheeses, as well as herbs, spices, and luxury gift hampers.
Their eCommerce website allows customers to place online grocery orders for both home delivery and click and collect. Customers can also access an extensive recipes section and made-to-order services for certain products, such as antipasto platters and tiramisu.
Mediterranean Food Co also has a B2B eCommerce revenue stream, where other food businesses such as cafes and restaurants can set up wholesale accounts to purchase goods.
6. Storm and India
Storm and India is an organic tea company from Australia that supplies customers with loose-leaf tea, teabags, and tea-making accessories via their online store. All tea ingredients are either grown locally at the company farm or sourced from responsible vendors.
Rather than viewing tea as a commodity like many beverage brands, Storm and India have framed their products as a lifestyle offering for living with a healthy and ethical mindset. Their website and social media talk extensively about how they source ingredients, and even how they design teabags in-house to avoid potentially toxic chemicals.
7. The Caker
The Caker started out as an at-home food business supplying keen bakers with pre-assembled kits to make delicious cakes from scratch. This quickly took off and turned founder Jordan Rondel into a well-known food entrepreneur.
Rather than hiding behind her product, Jordan is front and center as part of The Caker's influencer-led marketing strategy.
She uses her personal Instagram account as The Caker's primary marketing and sales channel to maintain an emotional connection with her followers. Her feed is a mixture of product promotion, baking tips, and updates about her daily life and the food industry, helping to stimulate online sales and build a rapport with loyal customers.
8. Dandelion Chocolates
Dandelion Chocolates is a bean-to-bar chocolate company based in San Francisco with a strong focus on creating unique, high-end chocolate products that push the boundaries of confectionary.
Like many boutique food producers, Dandelion Chocolates dedicates a significant section of their website to explaining their process and where their beans are sourced from. They also do regular collaborations with other high-end confectioners to create compelling products:
Food eCommerce is a dynamic and rapidly growing category of the eCommerce marketplace, and there are no signs of consumer interest slowing down in the near future.
As competition in the sector heats up thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, food and beverage brands will need to pull out all the stops to impress customers and boost retail sales.
From super-fast delivery to personalized food production and curated subscriptions, the trends described above hold the key to boosting conversion rates and brand engagement in 2022 and beyond.