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Convenience: What You Need for Tomorrows Customers

November 15, 2016

by Tom Bryce-HartLocal Line

Service is about empowering your customers to be successful. As the food system advances, the way we judge service levels is going to change, and convenience will become the most important service factor to keep your customers happy. The most important part about convenience for your customers the “pre-order” stage. This includes things like “What products do you have? How many of them are there? What’s the price? How do I order? When is it coming?” The “post-order” stage includes what time the truck arrives, and if the delivered products match the order. We believe the best way to provide ordering convenience for your customers in the future is through custom e-commerce.

By this point, most people in the food industry take for granted that e-commerce will grow rapidly in the coming years, but in case you’re not yet convinced, here’s some quick facts:

  • By definition, every one of your future customers will be millennials.
  • 40% of millennials say if they could buy EVERYTHING online, they would.
  • 79% of millennials have found new products browsing on their mobile phones.

There is no denying that your customers are building habits online. They’ve likely bought from Amazon, or at the very least been browsing on websites with storefronts. You future customers will all have a Netflix Account, and Facebook, and probably Uber. Heck, maybe even Snapchat. Think that’s not important? It is. They’re building habits through experiences and you’re missing opportunities to get in front of them where their attention already is; online. Eventually, you have to believe they are going to start asking why it’s so easy to order their groceries with Amazon and have them delivered within hours, but such a headache to order their weekly proteins with your excel sheet.

Put yourself in your customers shoes.

What is their day like?
How many other responsibilities must they manage alongside ordering your products?
How many other suppliers do they have? How do they interact with those suppliers?
How do they feel when it comes time to place an order with you? Do they roll their eyes and get it over with as quickly as possible? Or do they take time to browse what other products you might offer?
If they wanted to order a hand-forged Japanese knife (example) would it be easier to find, price and order that knife at 3 am than it would be to price and place a weekly order with you? Probably yes.

The benefit of an online catalogue is an ability to have information readily accessible: custom product prices, inventories, information, pictures, delivery schedules, minimum orders, delivery fees, and more. All customized for each customer. That creates a convenient, personalized experience. When you don’t provide these services, it leaves your customer waiting and forces them to ask for information and confirmation.

Waiting to be acknowledged is not an empowering feeling for a customer to have.

How do you capitalize?

Unless you have a store that your customers can visit at any time and can find the relevant ordering information, you are not providing an empowered purchasing experience. The only way to accomplish the level of instant service your customers have become used to in other areas of their lives is by moving online.

Getting set up is not difficult.

To some it may still feel like new technology. Others worry more about the cost of hiring a third-party to build and maintain an online store. But regardless of your hesitation, there is no question that to survive moving forward, small and medium-sized B2B and B2C food-businesses will have to adopt e-commerce. When you become a Local Line customer, you get your personal e-commerce solution to empower your customers, on top of industry recognized CRM solutions and reports for your business. It will take you 30 minutes to set up, and you start with a 30 day free trial. You can empower your customers and receive exposure to new customers all while REDUCING the amount of time you currently spend on sales and marketing. For example:

When it’s Thursday and one of your customers forgot to place the produce order for Friday and remembers at midnight, your customer can pop in to your store and submit the order without having to get out of bed. In the morning you won’t have to decipher voice mails left in the middle of the night to properly assemble your P.O’s.

When your CSA clients are eager to start building their baskets, you can direct them to your store where they will be able to build custom baskets without you having to constantly check the remaining inventory. Set seasonal products to appear on the virtual shelves only as they become available.

When a potential new customer asks about where to get your products, or how much they cost, with Local Line you can give that potential customer the keys to your store and say: “Come on in any time, we’re always open for you.”

This article was written by Tom Bryce-Hart, originally posted on Local Line‘s blog. You can get in contact with Local Line by emailing them at [email protected]