Selling food online? Here’s what you need to know.

Online food is a growing market with huge potential. Consumers are starting to consider buying not just their weekly groceries online, but also niche, gourmet and hard-to-source foods. There have also been improvements in the supply chain infrastructure, so getting food from warehouse to customer doorsteps, with freshness still intact, is easier than ever.


A key challenge faced by online food suppliers is the fact that customers are used to buying food with their senses. Smell, sight and samples are what generally tend to entice consumers to make food purchases and these are obviously absent from computer screens, posing issues that need to be addressed by online retailers who need to win over consumers.


The good news, however, is that consumers tend to shop online for foods that are particularly high end and luxurious and will thus pay higher prices for these products. That’s good to know, considering selling food online is an expensive business. For example, you will need to pay for enhanced packaging and speedy delivery. So how do you effectively sell food online, given the lack of sensory allure at your disposal? And how do you deliver foods on time and intact?




It is absolutely paramount that you invest in good, professional photography that can really convey the delicious details of your foods. If necessary invest in studios and professional lighting to guarantee the best results. This may seem like an expensive endeavour, but it will pay for itself in the long run. Customers are often bought or sold on the basis of how good your food looks on screen. It is the most important thing when it comes to swaying buyers. If you’re tackling the photography yourself make sure you invest in the right equipment. These snaps need to be more than just website photography, they need to be so detailed that they communicate the smell and taste of the foods to the consumer.


If you are struggling to think up creative ways to display your foods, consider looking into lifestyle photography. Many eCommerce sites are made up of this type of photography, which is basically a style which showcases products in their natural environments and as how they were intended for use. For example, if you are selling vegetables they might be shown in a salad outdoors on a hot day. Popcorn could be shown being enjoyed by individuals sat on a couch in front of the TV. By seeing products being used in the way that they were intended, consumers can make their purchase decisions based on whether or not they will have a genuine use for whatever product is on display.




Food is perishable. That’s the number one thing that you have to bear in mind when it comes to selecting distribution and delivery channels for your products. Customers will want what they have purchased delivered fast and before it decreases in quality in any way. You must make shipping companies aware of these demands before you sign up for their services. You will also need to be much more exact with the timings of when your foods will arrive to the customer’s door and negotiate an alternative storage place in the event of the customer not being in. Foods are not products that can be stuffed into letter boxes. Often food is being ordered as part of the catering for a special event, in which case you will need to settle on a definite delivery time and your couriers may need to lay out the produce, incurring an additional pre-negotiated fee for your customer.




The best way to protect the items you send out to your customers is through appropriate packaging. If you are concerned over whether or not your packaging effectively preserves the shape and quality of what it’s containing, mail the item to yourself and find out how well it is protected through your current approach. Remember, of course, that packaging is another way for you to showcase your brand. Weave your brand’s colours and fonts into all paper and boxes you use and create a style that radiates all that you are as a company.


Selling food online is tricky and not without its challenges. However, more and more consumers are looking online to buy foods, often of an exotic nature. With consumers willing to pay more for luxury and hard-to-find foods, the market is lucrative. Make sure you deliver your products on time and with freshness tightly sealed.