A Comprehensive Guide on How to Sell Food Online

How to Sell Food Online

Are you looking for how to sell food online? Are you a beginner to sell food online from home? I think you are in the right place. Let's see how I can help you.  

The technological inflammation is greatly visible in the present era. The eCommerce industry is one of the remarkable examples of such kind of inflammation. In a simple word, an eCommerce business refers to the process of buying and selling any goods, foods, or services through the internet. But there are some specific rules for starting every business, and that helps to accelerate any business. 

In this regard, the online food selling system is one of the trending businesses worldwide. The first online food ordering system was invented in 1999. Thus, it's not a new concept at all, but the entire procedure is updated day by day so that we can start this business easily and effortlessly. In this article, I will try to illuminate the whole process of how to sell food online that will be so favorable for you. 
 

Case Study of an Online Food Business 

Now, I would like to share my personal experience about why I prefer online food selling systems and how I started selling food online.

I had a small restaurant business in my area, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, I have failed to earn my expected revenue from my restaurant business. When the lockdown started, the number of customers at my restaurant dropped to almost zero. I was really disappointed in this scene, but the truth is, Safety First! Under the circumstances, it is normal for no one to go out to eat.

No one could not want to go outside from home because everyone believed in this principle of "Stay Home, Stay Safe!" In this circumstance, I realized that I need to do something different, which would be effective at this time. In this case, I think and rethink what can be done?

A few days later, I was just staring at a few statistical reports when I noticed the importance of online grocery shopping and online food delivery systems. 

"eCommerce revenue in the food and beverage sector exceeded 15 billion U.S. dollars in 2020." Source

According to this statistical information, I found out about the revenue from food and beverage eCommerce sales. I began to wonder if anything could be done through the eCommerce business. So I keep trying to gather more information and learn some wonderful facts about online grocery shopping.

"In the United States, almost 52 percent of grocery shops were offering online delivery systems." Source 

After that, I tried to integrate the concept of eCommerce food and beverage business and online delivery system. I decided to start an online food selling business through the integrated thinking of e-commerce commerce and an online delivery system.

So, this analytical data has acted as an influencer to identify the right path of my business. Then, I realize what I should do in this circumstance to utilize my resources properly. From this incident, I have been inspired to start an online food selling business. Now, my business is streaming smoothly, and I have been able to achieve my desired profit.

Assumption  

I am optimistic you can understand the importance of an online food selling system according to my personal experience. You may even be interested in selling your homemade food products at home through an online food delivery system. If you have a restaurant and you want to serve your food items to the customers, then you can incorporate the online food delivery system in your business. Moreover, you need to consume the exact concept of how to sell food online.

"The story of any one man's real experience finds its startling parallel in that of every one of us."  -James Russell Lowell                                                         

10 Steps to Selling Food Online

I will try to illustrate a comprehensive guide on how to sell food online, and the step-by-step procedure of this process is explained in this article. So, this article will be very convenient for you to understand the complete process of selling food via eCommerce platforms. Let's deep dive.  

Step 1: Learn the Law

Learn the Law

The first and foremost duty is to know the food law of your country. It entirely depends on your country's laws and regulations. Thus, according to your location, you must follow the rules and regulations of selling food online. The law of one region will never match the law of another, so you have to be careful about this. For example, you cannot apply India's food law to the United States. Thus, depending on where you want to start your business, you must know the laws of that country. 

For example, if you want to start your business in the United States, you can follow these food laws and regulations. On the other hand, when you live in India, you need to follow these laws. Although these laws depend on the country, each country has some specific rules, but these laws are not the same for all countries. If you have an idea about these laws, then you can start your business smoothly.

"A law is valuable, not because it is a law, but because there is right in it." - HENRY WARD BEECHER

Some Laws and Licensing Aspects

Here, I will discuss some rules and licensing aspects that you must have to know about selling food online.

  • Need to have a valid business license according to your state
  • Must have to ensure a neat and clean environment of your kitchen and conduct an annual inspection in your kitchen by the health department 
  • Required a zoning clearance approved by the health and agriculture department   
  • Need for sufficient resources and obligate apparatus in your kitchen to store any kinds of food like dry food items or cold items
  • Pets are not allowed in your home and kitchen. But if you are an extreme pet lover, you need to be very careful about keeping your kitchen environment healthy.

These are some common and fundamental laws that apply to all states. Before starting any food selling business, you need to perceive these general rules as well as some other laws based on your location.

Step 2: Find Your Niche

Find Your Niche

Niche is one of the significant findings for starting any business. When you want to launch an online food selling system, you need to clarify your niche. Without finding your niche, you may begin your business, but you will not sustain here for the long run. So, it is an essential basis for starting a business and surviving successfully in the marketplace. 

Moreover, you need to have a good concept for your customer and your potential customer. You have to remember that not all food lovers are your potential customers, but you can only consider them as your customers. So, the main niche of your business is to find out the potential customers.

  "Choose the niche that you enjoy, where you can excel and stand a chance of becoming an acknowledged leader." ~ Richard Koch

There are some metrics to find out your business niche that will help to ensure a constant flow of your business revenue. So, these following aspects can assist in figuring out your business niche.

Target Audience

For understanding your niche, you need to consider your target audience. You cannot satisfy your customers if you assume everyone is your customer. Thus, you need to fix your target audience before proceeding. For instance, the food list that you will provide for the younger generation is definitely not the same for the kids. So, you have to decide which types of customers you will choose.

Food Trend

If you already select your target audience, then you have to understand the food trend. When you know the upcoming food trends, you can easily understand the changes in food preferences. The present food trends also help you capture customer demand, and you can observe food trends through search volume and google trends.

Food Business Ideas

Are you concerned about your food business ideas? This step is one of the crucial niches of your business. Nowadays, there are many food businesses available, but you need to find out which one will be perfect for you. If you want to start a small food selling business with low investment, you can try the following things. 

  • Fast food restaurant 
  • Open a bakery
  • Chocolate marketing 
  • Ice-cream parlor
  • Organic products 
  • Dairy products 
  • Bread, Jam, and Jelly marketing
  • Biscuit marketing
  • Burger and pizza restaurant 
  • Coffee and tea shop
  • Pickle marketing
  • Chinese food shop 
  • Meat or seafood marketing 
  • Sweetshop
  • Grocery shop 
  • Spices marketing, and more! 

Step 3: Analyze the Market and Competitors

Analyze the Market and Competitors

After finding your niche, you need to analyze the market and your competitors. Without conducting the market research, you can not gain your expected revenue from your business. Thus, market research and competitor analysis is the critical and essential factor for starting any business. 

Market Research

Proper market research helps to fulfill your business niche successfully. You can identify your customers, observe their needs, and examine the buyer's journey. So, this step affects the decision making and product development process as well. Moreover, you can conduct your market research in two ways: 

  1. Qualitative market research and 
  2. Quantitative market research
Qualitative market research

Qualitative research refers to identifying and gathering the thoughts and opinions of your customer. To conduct qualitative market research, you can understand the customer's experiences, choices, and preferences

To perform qualitative market research, you need to follow these methodologies: 

  • Interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Archival research

Some specific steps will help you to accomplish your qualitative market research for your business. Those are pointed out in the following section. 

  • Need to set business goals
  • Choose the perfect location based on focus groups
  • Prepare open-ended questions
  • Recruit participants
  • Collect demographic pieces of information like:
    • Age 
    • City 
    • Gender
    • Residence 
    • Profession 
    • Marital status 
    • Income, and so on
  • Create a release form 
  • Interact with participants
  • Analyze the overall assumption. 
Quantitative market research

Quantitative market research refers to the approach of identifying the customer's needs and preferences based on analyzing numerical or statistical data. To conduct quantitative market research, you need to follow these methodologies: 

  • Polls
  • Experiments
  • Surveys 

In the case of quantitative market research, you can also follow the steps of qualitative market research.

Competitor Analysis

After completing the market analysis, you need to conduct the competitor analysis to identify your opportunities and threats. It is the most crucial segment of any business success. So, it might help if you analyze your competitor by following these steps.

  • List down your competitor
  • Create a concise overview
  • Identify their customer
  • Mark out their pricing 
  • Observe their marketing strategy
  • Find out their competitive advantage  
  • Identify their strength and weakness

enlightenedLearn More: 7 Unique Ideas to Create a Restaurant Marketing Plan That Maximize ROI

Step 4: Find Your Supplier

Find Your Supplier

Supplier plays an essential role in your business to serve the necessary goods and ingredients. Even if you decide to sell homemade food or pre-prepared food, the supplier will play a significant role in your business. Indeed, most of the entrepreneurs have failed due to a lack of proper suppliers. Thus, it is one of the most challenging parts to start your business and maintain your business continuity.

Moreover, there are a few steps you need to follow in choosing the right supplier for your business.

Set Your Criteria

Every business has some specific criteria, and that will vary from business to business. Before choosing the supplier, you need to prepare your business criteria. 

  • Maximum waiting time between placing an order and receiving a product
  • Clarify about your order quantity 
  • Understand your supplier's ability
  • Product quality ensuring a thorough quality assurance process
  • Specific terms and condition
  • Allows return policy
  • Enough communication flow with supplier   

Browse Your Preferences

For selecting the right supplier for your business, you need to ensure some criteria. So, you can evaluate the potential supplier based on the following criteria.

Business Types

According to your business model and types, you need to select your supplier. For instance, if you want to sell your food products, you need to search for your business-related wholesale supplier and manufacturer. 

Reliable & Trustworthy

It is the most important criteria for choosing any supplier. You must select the reliable and trustworthy suppliers that can protect your business from any kind of deception.  

Recognition

It will be better to choose a recognized and reputed supplier for your business because a reputed and recognized supplier guarantees the best quality products and services. Before selecting the suppliers, you need to collect those suppliers' feedback from other business owners.       

Call and Evaluate Bid

After completing the previous steps, you can call your selected suppliers for bids. To call for bids, you may need to fill out a Request for Proposal (RFP) form or a Request for Quotation (RFQ) form. Also, you need to clearly mention the details about your products and services, quality, delivery period, standard quantity, and so on.

After that, you can evaluate the bids according to your business requirements. Without proper evaluation, you can not validate your suppliers.      

Supplier Performance Tracking

After choosing your suppliers, you need to track your suppliers regularly. Without monitoring the supplier's activities, you can not measure supplier performance.                                                                                                                                                      

Ensuring Product Quality

You need to collect your customer response to observing the quality of your products. By collecting the feedback from your consumers, you can ensure your product and supplier quality as well. 
 

Step 5: Focus on Name & Branding

Focus on Name & Branding

Proper business names can reflect your business activities. A business name can help to attract customers. With an appropriate name, your customer can understand what is the purpose of your business! Thus a business name plays a significant role in your business. It acts as the basement of your business, and after creating a business model, you need to consider your business name.

"A name is your identity, so your perfection relies on a perfect name." 

Moreover, any business name can be able to create an emotional attachment with the customers. It has an invisible power that can make a positive or negative impression of your business. Thus, it can influence to increase your customers in your industry. On the other hand, most companies fail in the beginning due to irrelevant names.

 

"Almost 80% of branding depends on a suitable name."

 

Branding

The right name not only interacts with your customers but also enriches your business performance through proper branding. After establishing your niche, you need to select a relevant business name, and then you can promote your business in various ways. Your branding can be able to reflect what you are providing and to whom you are providing it. 

"Branding acts as a silent influencer to influence your customer." 

When you want to sell your food products online, you need to explain why you are the best and why the customers will prefer your foods. The proper branding can help to perform these tasks quickly and smoothly. Also, branding can improve your business recognition by designing an attractive logo that helps to represent your business. Your business branding can assist in generating new customers and enhancing financial value and reliability

Brand Colors

Brand colors are the most significant component to represent your brand properly. Your brand's color can impress the customer because when a customer gets acquainted with your brand, they will first see your brand's color.

 

"According to research, almost 85% of consumers prefer color before choosing any particular product." -Source

Using your brand color, you can express your emotions and feelings that help to attract your customers. To choose your brand color, you need to maintain these criteria. 

  • Need to observe the color meaning
  • Identify the main substance of your business 
  • Analyze your competitor brand colors
  • Choose your desire colors 
  • Test your brand colors 

enlightenedLearn More: Choose the Right Restaurant Name

Step 6: Packaging and Labelling

Packaging and Labelling

After choosing an appropriate name, you need to apply proper packaging and labeling strategy. It is one of the most precious factors that play a significant role in branding your business. When you want to start an online food selling system, you need to be more careful about your product packaging and labeling. 

Moreover, you need to integrate your brand name, brand logo, and colors on your package. Proper packaging can preserve your food and enhance the customer experience. Also, it can be able to satisfy your customer and ensure your business success. 

"Good packaging and adequate labeling create a positive impression on your business."

So, I think you understand how proper packaging and labeling create both positive and negative impacts on your business. There are some certain rules and regulations for packaging and labeling your foods that must need to follow in your business.

  • Provides a complete list of usage ingredients 
  • To mention the net quantity or amount of your food
  • Uncover your business name and location
  • Clarify about your supplier
  • Need to say manufacture and expiration date     

Step 7: Pricing Strategy

Pricing Strategy

According to the previous discussion, you can understand why the business law is essential, how you can find out your niche, and the reasons behind choosing an appropriate brand name and colors?

All of your attempts may be declined due to the lack of a proper pricing strategy. Now, you can make your business profitable and ensure your business's continuous financial flow. Definitely, you are thinking, what is the way to do it?

The most significant thing for starting and running any business is to apply effective pricing strategies. For example, if you want to sell food online, you need to maintain some significant criteria. So, before fixing your food price, you can follow these things.

Market Comparison

Market analysis and comparison is the key factor for applying the pricing strategy. You need to compare the market value of any certain foods or items before fixing the price. Also, you have to observe customer preferences to understand how much they are willing to pay for any particular food. However, you need to set high prices when it comes to delivering high-quality products. On the other hand, if you want to attract price-conscious customers, you need to set low and affordable prices. 

Ingredients Cost

To prepare any food items, you must require some ingredients. Moreover, it is not possible to make any food without a combination of ingredients. But you have to bear some cost to purchase your necessary ingredients. For this reason, you need to follow the food cost percentage method for setting your food price. Also, it should be ensured that the ingredients' price does not exceed one-third of the price.     

Triple Pricing Model

Triple pricing strategy is the most common pricing method for any type of business. You can also apply this method to your restaurant business. This strategy is also known as the "good, better, best" pricing model. With this model, when you offer just one item like a burger, that will be considered a "good" item, and the price might be low and inexpensive. On the other hand, if you offer more than one item like a burger and french fries, it will be considered mid-priced items, and that is called "better" items. Finally, when you provide three or more items like burgers, french fries, cold drinks, and dessert, it will encounter the "best" items and the most expensive items.

Inventory Monitoring

Inventory monitoring helps to adjust your price range and understand the current situation of your inventory. Based on your inventory, you can determine precisely how much material has already been spent and how much more material will be needed for future production. According to these observations, you can set your food price, which will be very useful for your business.  

Gross Margin

Gross margin is a significant term to identify the value of sales increment. It refers to the amount of net profit after deducting any operating expenses. Moreover, it ensures to make better decisions for the promotional activities of your business. Also, it helps you to understand the net profit through cost analysis. After calculating the gross margin, you can easily estimate the price that will make sure your business revenue.     

Step 8: Create an Online Store

Create an Online Store

You can sell food online in three different but effective ways from home. For instance, you can use online marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, Airbnb, and eBay. Also, you can create your eCommerce platforms like Isshue, Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, Volusion, etc. The last approach is you can sell your food products through suppliers. 

Online Marketplace

The online marketplace creates global connections and attracts your audience. In this marketplace, there is no need to manage your entire system. You just deal with them to deliver your food. So, you can easily maintain your business activities and online food delivery process through the online marketplace. 

To sell your food product through an online marketplace, you need to create your account and list the products you want to sell. If you are going to sell your food products quickly and you are not interested in managing the entire website, you just want to sell food online from home. Then, the online marketplace will be the best choice to sell food online. 

eCommerce Platform

When you use an eCommerce platform to sell your food products online, you need to choose the right eCommerce platform. Moreover, there are lots of eCommerce platforms available, but it's not easy to select the best one. The right eCommerce platform can allow you to manage the entire system, and no technical knowledge is required to use this system. But for choosing the perfect eCommerce website for your food selling business, you need to ensure the following criteria.

These features can make your system more accurate and dynamic. It helps to reduce your workload and increase your business sales. If you want to provide an attractive website that has been included with all functionalities, you need to choose the best eCommerce solution. It helps to enhance your customer's experience and upraise your business revenue. My personal suggestion is you can use restaurant management software that will help manage not only your food selling process but also handle your delivery system. Besides, this software will be perfect for any type of business. For example, if you want to sell your food products from home or you want to open a restaurant, you can use the Bhojon restaurant management system in both cases.

"500+ Entrepreneurs rely on Bhojon software for their restaurant business" - Check Out: Best Restaurant and Food Business POS Software

Sell Food Products through Suppliers

This one is another approach to sell your food products online. In this process, you need not manage your large inventory and packaging or labeling activities. Moreover, you can take online orders and communicate with your suppliers. Then, your suppliers can deliver food to particular customers. This process is also called the dropshipping method. 

Do you want low-risk ways to sell food online? Then, definitely, you can try the dropshipping method. Moreover, this process can allow you to provide the best customer support, and you can spend more time on other promotional activities.

enlightenedCheck Out: Top Online Restaurant and Food Ordering Software

Step 9: Market Your Products

Market Your Products

The proper marketing strategy can build up a better relationship with your customers. It acts as the pillar of your business that helps to promote your business and ensure your business revenue. Moreover, you can reach your customers and achieve your goals through the proper marketing of your products. 

"Marketing is an effective approach to convince your customer." 

There are various ways to market your products and promote your business that is discussed in the following section. 

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is the essential factor to reach your customers, and through this process, your consumers can know about your brand. You need to use several paths to reach your intended consumers. Moreover, you need to connect with several food entrepreneurs that can help to build your brand awareness.  

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is the most significant factor to create brand awareness and market your products. Do you know how many people are connected with social platforms? 

"According to a statistical report, around 3.6 billion people are connected with social media." - Source

Now, you already realized, social media is a vast scope of marketing your products and service. When you initiate a food business, you can use various social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote your products and services. Twitter acts as the best friend for all food entrepreneurs and plays a crucial role in creating your brand awareness as well. You can also promote your food products through Facebook and Instagram that helps to enhance customer engagement with your business. So, these social platforms not only increase your business credibility but also ensure better interaction with your customers.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is another marketing approach that will help to provide the updated information to your customers. If you decide to start your business with an eCommerce platform, you can fill up some email templates that help to provide some exciting offers and the latest deals to the customers. So, you can create a monthly or festival schedule so that your targeted customers can understand your products, latest offers, and discounts. You can also survey to gather your consumer's preferences through email marketing, which will be very useful for further processing.  

Content Marketing 

Content marketing is an effective way to enhance your business visibility and provide some useful information that will be very convenient for your customers. Blogging or article writing is the best way to conduct content marketing. You can also perform video marketing and podcasting that will help you increase the number of visitors to your website. With the content marketing strategy, you can convert the visitors into leads, and then the leads will convert the potential customer. So, you can motivate visitors to convert the potential customer through content marketing.

Hosting Events

You can market your food product by conducting several kinds of hosting events. Moreover, hosting events help to grow up your business and build a strong connection with your customers. By organizing several cultural festivals or Valentine's Day celebration events, you can attract customers by providing a few platters and packages or some combo packages. This strategy will help to create customer engagement with your business and grab your business reputation.   

Create Infographic

Infographic is the visual representation to gather customer emotions and build customer attachment. Using a meaningful infographic, you can easily catch the consumer's eyes and convey your desired message. Moreover, you can visually represent your thoughts and theme with the infographic, and the customer can easily understand it. Finally, you can persuade customers to take quick action through an expressive infographic. 

Festival and Seasonal Offers

This one is another marketing approach to promote your sales and elaborate on your business activities. You can provide different types of festival and seasonal offers that will help to create a better interaction with your customers.  

SEO

Search Engine Optimization is the most vital approach for branding your business and promoting your food products. It helps to get your site to appear on search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., but you need to properly optimize your system according to the 200 SEO running factors. Some essential factors are given below. 

Keyword Density

Keyword density means the percentage of how many times you used the keyword in your content. But it may not be good to overuse the keyword in your content. The perfect ratio of keyword density should be 1-2% in your content.  

Latent Semantic Indexing ( LSI)

You need to use the LSI to get the best result from your content. It is one of the most significant ranking factors in SEO. So, the more LSI you use, the richer your content will be.  

Domain Factors

There are several domain factors that create a great impact on SEO. 

  • Domain Name- tries to make a short domain name.  
  • Domain Age- initially, the domain name doesn't matter, but it helps to gain authority after a certain period.  
  • Number and Hyphens - need to avoid any numbers and hyphens in your domain name
  • Domain History - need to check before buying a domain because spamming links are harmful to ranking, otherwise use Google disavow.  
  • Exact Match Domain - try to keep the business name and domain name the same.  
  • Domain Registration Length - need to renew your domain after expiring.  
  • Keyword in Subdomain - try to keep your desired keyword in the Subdomain. 
User Interaction

User interaction is one of the major ranking factors that affect your website's SEO. If your website interacts with more users, then your website will appear more valuable to Google. Also, some aspects are included in this factor; those are: 

  • Organic click-through rate (CTR)
  • Direct traffic
  • Bounce rate 
  • Repeat traffic 
  • Pogosticking
  • Pageviews 
  • Number of comments
  • Dwell Time
Backlink Factors

Proper backlink plays a vital role in marketing your food products and ranking your website in the Google search engine. So, you need to follow some criteria for the proper backlink.

  • Choose aged domain 
  • Linking root domain
  • Tries to link from separate C-Class IPs
  • Linking pages 
  • Anchor text 
  • Guest post
  • Authority gain, and more.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a practical marketing approach to market your food products. This process is one type of social media marketing like Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat. With this strategy, you can promote your business through food bloggers, social media accounts, and reviews. Moreover, you can take help from food bloggers to promote your food products that will be very workable for your business. 

Attractive Packaging

An adage goes that, "A book is judged by its cover." Similarly, your customers will be attracted by the packaging of your products. It will help to create the first impression of your consumers. If you provide a good quality product with ordinary packaging, that will fail to attract your customers. So, you need to ensure attractive packaging and enough protection to market your food products. 

Here you can get more unique promotional ideas for your online food selling business or restaurant business.  

Step 10: Delivery System

Delivery System

After ensuring all the above steps, it's time to provide your food products to a particular destination. For this circumstance, you need to maintain an effective delivery system to deliver your food items. Moreover, various food delivery platforms are available like Zomato, Foodpanda, Swiggy, Uber Eats, and more to provide you your business's logistics support.

"The total revenue growth rate in global online food delivery service is 7.5%." - Source 

These delivery platforms are applicable for any food business type, like having a restaurant or managing your business at home. If you want to deliver your food product from home or restaurant, the delivery man will collect the food from you and give it to your customer. To manage your online food delivery system smoothly, you can use any food delivery platforms that will be very convenient for you and your customers as well.

Final Thought

At first, I would like to appreciate for reading this article. Here, you can get a detailed explanation of starting an online food selling business.

“The combined effort of hard work and strategies ensures the key success of any business.”

That means to achieve your goal, in addition to working hard, you also need to follow these steps. With this article, you can observe the importance and some aspects of online food business laws. You will also understand how to perform business niche and market and competitor analysis. In addition, you can observe how to choose suppliers, brand names, and why you need proper packaging and labeling. This article helps to understand which pricing and marketing strategies are required to use. So, this article will provide a complete guide on how you can sell food online and what strategies you need to apply. This guide can provide you an absolute path to understand the overall process. 

Would you like to read: A Details View of Restaurant Billing Software