Is your food manufacturing business ready for the e-commerce era?

May 20, 2022
By Mehreen Hasan

One of the biggest changes in consumer spending in recent years has been the increase in online shopping. Ecommerce continues to be a significant portion of total sales, as consumers increase the frequency of online orders. The number of U.S. households that bought groceries online more than quadrupled from 16 million to more than 64 million in the last four years. Some consumers are even using online shopping exclusively, contributing to forecasts that 20.5%, or $263 billion, of retail grocery sales, will be through online channels by 2026. 


How can food manufacturers stay on top of the booming e-commerce trend?  


To embrace e-commerce is to embrace digital 

For many consumers, food is more than something they just eat. People are looking for quality ingredients, and they seek out informative labels that tell them what they want to know. They want to be able to replicate experiences they’ve had at dining establishments, or make a meal that looks #instaworthy.  


This is the time for food manufacturers to really embrace digital. With easily accessible recipes, drool-worthy photos, or behind the scenes of the food manufacturing process, showing the sustainability behind the brand.  


Posting content your customer can relate to will help them build trust in your brand, and if you haven’t already, rev up your e-mail marketing engine. 


Can your technology keep up with buying preferences? 

Now your buyers want to buy your brand’s products – are they able to do so online? Odds are it’s been a while since you implemented your ERP system. The average lifecycle of an ERP implementation is 10 years or more. If that’s the case for you, it’s likely how you do business today has changed dramatically. If you have introduced new sales channels into your business since that upgrade, there is a chance they are running as sidecar systems. Evaluate bringing in new channels like e-commerce, drop shipments, or direct-to-consumer into your ERP upgrade. 


According to recent research on B2B purchasing: 

  • On average, B2B buyers in the food and beverage industry report that they make over 428 business-critical purchases or orders each day. 
  • 44% most frequently turn to a supplier’s e-commerce site as the channel of choice when placing these orders. 
  • But unfortunately, nearly 1/5 of those buyers face online order errors every day. 
  • Only 48% of industry buyers feel their expectations of suppliers’ websites are met to a great extent, with the other half reporting expectations are only somewhat, very little, or not at all met. 
  • Food manufacturers need to make sure they have a robust online purchasing system that can offer their buyers a positive experience – and one that seamlessly integrates into their ERP.  


ERP systems today need to extend outside the four walls of the business, and this includes how you manage the supply chain, purchase goods, process sales orders, and manage inventory.  This information needs to happen in real-time on-demand. Cloud architecture supports all of this. 


But with this comes an abundance of information, and is vital that your ERP system is able to process all this information in a way that is easy to retrieve, and displays it in a quick-to-understand manner. When your ERP is combined with food inventory management software, your food business is a lean, mean, unbeatable machine. Tracking ingredient availability across the full supply chain can identify potential shortages ahead of time, giving you the opportunity to adjust your production schedule. And, identifying surplus ingredients provides the opportunity to reduce food waste and manage production accordingly. 


Ecommerce is here to stay 

The rise of e-commerce presents an opportunity for food companies to dig deeper into the technology that is helping businesses pivot as consumer shopping trends shift. Food manufacturers need wide access to up-to-date information to stay ahead of the trends. Harvest Food Solutions’ cloud-based systems give you maximum access and control to optimize your supply chain. Give us a call and let’s talk about getting your business positioned for the customers of today – and tomorrow. 

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