- E-commerce remains a relatively small retail channel for U.S. consumers, but it is also the fastest-growing way that RTE snacks are purchased, according to a new report from The NPD Group.
- Consumers' online snack preferences run the gamut. Top snack foods ordered online come from all three main categories: salty, sweet and better-for-you.
- Most of the snacks most commonly purchased online have several common qualities: longer shelf life, shipping-friendly shelf stability, lower price tag or more accessibility for bulk purchases, or premium varieties that are harder to find or more expensive in other retail channels.
Food and beverage manufacturers may have faced challenges as online shopping first surged in popularity, especially if they didn't have an effective e-commerce plan in place. But e-commerce is quickly becoming more navigable, with many manufacturers selling products online directly from their own websites, such as Snyder's-Lance's Snack Shack.
More manufacturers are also embracing e-commerce opportunities by forming partnerships with other established entities. These range from dedicated online retailers like Amazon, Thrive Market and Alibaba to meal kit and subscription delivery services, such as Hershey's partnership with Chef'd.
With the rise of e-commerce, self-checkouts and mobile devices came the decline of impulse buys at grocery stores. But as e-commerce software and data analysis evolve, manufacturers can now encourage similar last-minute purchases as consumers ready for checkout. Companies often tailor these selections for the individual shopper based on items in the consumer's current or past online shopping carts.
Manufacturers can also embrace the innovative digital marketing strategies that e-commerce enables. These could include "visual storytelling around the taste or health attributes of the product, or quick click links that auto-populate the consumer’s cart with candy, sweets, and healthy snacks," David Portalatin, vice president and food industry analyst at NPD Group, said in a statement. Others include Mondelez's "buy now" buttons embedded in shoppable ads or social media channels with direct links to e-commerce capabilities.