Today’s consumers have changed a lot.

In the digital economy, people are doing their own research and want to make informed purchases. To sell food online to consumers, it’s important to consider what they care about and to be able to provide that service. When it comes to local food, consumers care about:

Supporting local economy

Consider the local economy like your neighbourhood. You want to make your living environment the best possible, versus helping out someone else's. Consumers love a good story and to support causes with their purchases. Buying their food from a local farmer allows them to support their cause and put their money back into the community economy.

Food transparency

Large food corporations are not transparent with where our food comes from. Consumers go into large grocery store chains and are able to select from thousands of options, however are unsure of who made or grew their food and how long ago it was harvested/produced. Local food producers are the face of their food and create relationships with their customers. For more on transparency, check out this post.  

Reducing food miles

Food miles are the measured distance a food product must travel before reaching its end location. The impact of a product’s food miles is dependent on the mode of transportation and the distance and time that product needs to travel. When a consumer buys local food, it can help to decrease the impact from distribution as the products have less distance to travel, therefore will release fewer emissions.

Increased nutrients

Food has severely lost its nutrient richness in the last 5 decades. Modern agricultural systems are focused on growing large quantities of large food fast and in turn have depleted our soils, which is stripping nutrients from our food. In a study conducted by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, they studied the nutrient content of 43 different fruit and vegetable species grown in the US. They found severe declines in protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C. Another study found that today we would have to eat 8 oranges to get the same amount of vitamin A our grandparents generation would have gotten from a single one. Local food producers grow food on a smaller scale with focus on creating a sustainable practice resulting in good, nutrient filled food, therefore a consumer buying local will get more out of their purchase.

Local food offers customers food that is good for the environment, good for them and good for their community. Play off that. When thinking to sell food online consider why they would purchase from you versus any other food producer. Can you offer those mentioned points above?

Often consumers don’t even want to engage the vendor at all. Online sales are continuing to increase and increase yearly. Consumers want the ability to purchase everything from high end goods such as cars or technology, to groceries. Companies such as Amazon and EBay, took advantage of this trend and are now the largest retailers online. Therefore it is essential for food producers to be able to offer the same service.

The question is now, how do I, as a small business owner, sell food online direct to consumers?

Be online!

In order to sell food online, you need to be online. As mentioned above, every consumer is online. This is the best way to reach new customers and make it easy and fast for them to buy from you. Spend time on your website and online store so that is appealing and functioning. If you need help creating a website with an embedded online store, Local Line can help!

Know your customers

Consumers are like goldfish, easily distracted and have short memories. Meet them halfway.  Find out what platforms they frequency use and what are they looking for when ordering. What can make it the most convenient for them? If you match the needs of your customers to the services of your business, you are giving them fewer reasons not to order from you.

Be everywhere

Tying into the theme of knowing your customers, be everywhere they are. If your customers are on social media, at certain retailers, or are frequent on other platforms, be there too. If consumers constantly see your content they will be more inclined to order from you.

Stand out and be unique

There are so many products available online. Make sure your products don’t get lost in that. Create branding that is uniform among all platforms and is unique. Tell your story and play into trends in the industry.

Use “Buy Local” platforms or initiatives

Many states and provinces have local food producer directories for buyers to find farmers and producers in their area. Make profiles on these directories so that your business pops up when searched. Provide a link or contact information to allow consumers to buy from you easily.

Word of mouth

Even if a lot of your sales occur online, don’t forget that there are people behind their computers. Producer-buyer relationships are important and need to be prioritized. Word of mouth is always extremely helpful in the food industry. A personal review from a friend in person or on their social media is a lot more powerful than an random person’s online review. Make customer service a priority and people will rave about your product to their friends.

Each channel you sell to has a different approach, however for each type of buyer the most important point to consider is convenience. Don’t make it hard for people to buy from you and start selling online today!