E-commerce is a dynamic and creative method of doing business. Whatever line of merchandise you are in, going online has many benefits and is almost necessary in order to keep up with competition. If you manufacture a food product, starting an online business opens you up to a whole world of customers, literally at your fingertips. If you are looking to grow your business and expand into new territories, or if you are just looking for a niche market, e-commerce has great advantages.
Establish your brand name. Often successful food product websites begin with a following that leads them to the world of online distribution. Food is all about taste, and you can't taste online. Thus it makes sense to have people try your food product before you bring it online. Getting customers excited about your brand will also generate a buzz that will build its own marketing hype, making it easier for you to build up your brand before and after your online launch.
Identify your niche market and design a marketing plan to hit the right target. When you do business online, you can reach customers from all over the world, but in order to generate high sales volume you need to locate and market toward those you believe will actually buy the product. You can't advertise to everyone, and you don't want to spread yourself too thin. Focus on the the right audience.
Follow legal guidelines. Food manufacturing and distribution in the U.S. is heavily regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Contact the department of health in your area to get information on permits that are relevant to your product and to make sure that you are complying with all regulations.
Hire staff and invest in storage and preparation facilities. The practical aspects of setting up your operation can't be underestimated. You may need a lot of freezer space or an industrial oven. Make sure you have enough workers to handle food preparation as well as sales and customer matters.
Design proper packaging. Food products need to stay fresh, making shipping and packing a delicate matter. Boxes can get thrown around and can get delayed in the shipping process. Packaging needs to account for these possibilities. Each product needs to be evaluated to see what works best.
Stay on top of customer service. With a food product, natural marketing tools are newsletters with recipes and free samples of new products. As with any business, answer emails and return calls promptly.
- Work with next-day or second-day air to ensure quality and freshness. Try to get deals with shippers.
- Don't ship food products unless you have tested them for freshness. Don't take on more than you can handle.
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