Blog Posts Coronavirus Drives Food & Beverage Shoppers Online

Ecommerce food sales surged 183 percent between March 1 and 25, 2020, compared to the same period last year, a NetElixir study shows. Experts predict that the trend toward shopping for food and beverages online will continue, even after the coronavirus pandemic subsides.

In order to accommodate this shift, grocery retailers and food and beverage companies need to understand the complexities of ecommerce fulfillment. Saddle Creek’s new ebook provides insights into the unique issues related to fulfilling online orders and offers strategies for addressing them effectively.

Following is an excerpt from the Food & Beverage Ecommerce Fulfillment Guide

Ecommerce Fulfillment Challenges

Before embracing ecommerce sales channels, grocery retailers and food and beverage companies should develop a clear understanding of the unique fulfillment challenges associated with those channels. Following are a few of the top concerns:

Unpredictable Demand

In these uncertain times, demand is likely to be volatile. As seen in March 2020, fulfillment operations must be prepared to gear up rapidly to accommodate record order volume. However, they also need to be capable of dialing back should business slow. Flexibility is key.

Labor-Intensive Order Profiles

The ecommerce business model typically involves a high volume of relatively low-value individual orders that must be piece-picked – a labor-intensive practice. To further complicate the process, shelf-life concerns for food items often dictate that orders be picked strategically to prevent product obsolescence.

Expectations for Responsive Service

Online shoppers have become accustomed to fast and free (or low-cost) deliveries. Orders must be processed quickly and efficiently – ideally the same day they are received. And then, of course, they must be shipped to arrive within an ever-shortening time window.

Low Margins

Ecommerce tends to be less profitable than traditional grocery sales, due in large part to higher labor needs and rising parcel shipping costs. Fulfillment operations must seek out every opportunity to create efficiencies and reduce costs while upholding service levels.

Multiple Sales Channels

Gone are the days of selling exclusively through a single sales channel. Retailers and food and beverage companies need to sell wherever their customers are buying. That may include online stores, third-party marketplaces, subscription boxes or mobile apps. Consumers expect a seamless experience across all platforms.

For strategies to help address the fulfillment challenges associated with food and beverage ecommerce, read the ebook.