Posted on February 21, 2011
Filed Under (Advice, Ecommerce, General Business, Marketing) by jennifer

As many home bakers and sellers of food products have found out, you have to be one tough cookie to be successful at selling food online. Not only do you need a good ecommerce site, you need good packaging and a good shipper. You also need to make sure you are in compliance with local health department regulations.  (For government information about selling food, go to the FDA’s Food Industry site.)

To help you determine if running on an online food business is right for you — or to help you make your existing ecommerce food business more successful — I spoke with three successful online food sellers (Hope, Faith & Gluttony Bakery, Venissimo Cheese, and Peanut Butter & Co.) who shared their recipes for selling food online.

To read what they had to say (and save yourself some potential heartburn), check out my article for Small Business Computing titled “Small Business Ecommerce: How to Sell Food Online.”

To whet your appetite, here are the Five Questions to Ask Before Selling Food Online:

“The foods that sell best [online] are ones that you can’t get within driving distance of wherever you live, or they’re something you can’t make yourself,” explained Venissimo Cheese co-founder and cheese wiz Gina Frieze. “You have to offer something unique and different,” added Peanut Butter &Co.’s founder and president Lee Zalben, who suggested prospective online food sellers ask themselves the following five questions before opening an online food store.

  • Is the product temperature sensitive? “If it is, that could be an obstacle,” he said.
  • Can the product be packaged in a way that’s easy and safe to ship? If it can’t be, you may want to think twice, as the cost could be prohibitive.
  • Is this something that people can easily buy someplace else (like their local grocery or specialty food store)? Before you sell something online, be sure to check out the competition and determine what extra value you add.
  • Is the presentation or the assortment or the product unique in some way? “If not, it’s a problem,” he said.
  • What kind of shelf life does the product have? “If it’s something fresh that has to be prepared every day and then shipped in one or two days, then that could be an obstacle,” said Zalben.
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