How CPG brands can thrive with e-commerce

Whether a consumer packaged goods company is just getting started or it already has a strong brick-and-mortar following, it’s a good idea to establish an online presence. However, it can be difficult to determine what should be included on an e-commerce website and how it will benefit the brand and its customers. The advantages to an online presence can outweigh the struggles of getting one started, so it’s important to understand the why and how of creating a website for a brand.

Online can be a “powerful tool”

A consumer packaged goods company that has only ever sold in brick-and-mortar retail locations can not only increase awareness with an online site, but can also grow sales. Likewise, smaller startup brands can get attention and get the word out about their products by showcasing them on a company website, says Manny Picciola, managing director with L.E.K. Consulting.

“For smaller brands just starting up and trying to get distribution, online can be a very powerful tool to drive awareness and get initial sales,” he says. “We encourage our smaller clients to build a community and put a lot of energy behind building visibility around their brands.”

For instance, he says, suppose a brand is trying to expand into a particular region with a big chain like Costco and doesn’t have a big retail presence yet. “They can point to the traction they’re building online and it can be very powerful to have that to show their success,” Picciola says. “A great example is Udi's. They built a big presence online with recipes and information from dietitians, and it really engages the consumer.”

Larger companies should build sites by the brand

Bigger companies that own multiple brands should create separate websites for each product line, Picciola says. “Depending on how your brand is positioned in the marketplace, it can have more or less importance to be in e-commerce,” he says. “If it's a product used in recipe development, having a strong e-commerce site helps the consumer explore recipes and see the product ingredients, along with a ‘buy’ button to purchase the products, which can be very important.”

The same goes for a brand that has an international presence but wants to grow stateside, or one that is strong in a particular region and aims to expand across the country. “Consumers are very loyal to brands, so ensuring that each brand has its own site is almost more important than the corporate presence,” Picciola adds.

Avoid this common mistake

In some cases, brands are so eager to get online that they don’t create a website that’s consumer-friendly, Picciola says. “One of the biggest stumbles we've seen is not letting users and consumers contribute and talk about the brand on the site,” he says. “Static pages with great images and a store locater are standard, but brands that have done well online have created an interactive place, have shareable content that they’re constantly refreshing and have a great Twitter or social feed that they've really brought to life. That's something we've seen take a company’s website from 1.0 to 2.0,” he says.

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