The online food business is flourishing! It’s not surprising because people love eating in the comfort of their homes, given the pandemic.
However, starting a small business is not as easy as it seems. While anybody can easily start a food business, it requires preparation, continuous learning, and effective strategy to succeed.
We heard this first hand during Prosperna’s latest event, MSMEs on the Spotlight: What’s Next in Food and Beverage Businesses.
We invited successful business leaders in the food industry to share their stories, experiences, and helpful tips about running a successful online food business:
- Martin Jordana of Cookie Dude PH
- Chef Jonas Ng of James & Daughters
- Jerwin Damay of Tintan’s Pastries
Dennis Velasco, Prosperna’s CEO and Founder, and Jean Deocariza, Prosperna’s Social Media Manager, hosted the event.
Keep on reading! We’ll share tips to help you succeed in your online food business and highlights from our “MSMEs on the Spotlight” event.
1. Identify Your Target Market and Understand Their Needs
Before launching your food business idea, you need to understand your target market. As any savvy business owner knows, knowing your target market is vital to your success, especially for online businesses.
With so much competition, it’s essential to identify the group of people you want to reach with your product or service. Otherwise, you’ll be lost in the sea of other businesses vying for attention.
Think about it – if you’re trying to sell gourmet cupcakes to a group of health-conscious women, you’re not going to have much success. But if you focus on selling cupcakes to pregnant women craving sweets, you’ll be much more likely to succeed.
Bottom line: if you want to succeed in the online food business world, start by identifying your target market. By understanding the needs and wants of your potential customers, you can craft a business model that meets their expectations and a marketing strategy that can reach them.
2. Focus on Your Niche and Continue Growing
When you try to be everything to everyone, you end up being nothing to no one. So, focus on a specific audience, do your market research, and serve them well. Not only will this help you stand out in a crowded marketplace, but it will also make it easier to build a loyal following of customers.
For example, if you specialize in healthy vegan cuisine, you can attract customers looking for delicious and nutritious meals. Similarly, if you focus on kid-friendly recipes, you can become the go-to source for parents looking for easy and tasty meal ideas.
By growing in your niche, you can focus on what you do best and become known for your unique offerings – building brand loyalty and trust.
Just like what restaurant owner Chef Jonas Ng of James & Daughters said:
“Anybody can open a restaurant. There are so many people in the restaurant industry right now. What we started to focus on was we’re never gonna be the best, we’re never gonna be the cheapest, we might as well be the most unique.”
3. Choose a Catchy and Memorable Domain Name for Your Website
Your domain name is your online identity. It’s how buyers will find you, and it’s essential to building your brand. So it’s worthwhile to take the time to come up with a good one.
To help you pick a memorable and catchy domain name for your website, here are some things you need to remember:
- Keep it short and simple.
- Make it easy to pronounce and spell.
- Use relevant keywords.
Martin Jordana of Cookie Dude PH shared the story of how they came up with their business and domain name:
“My girlfriend is a big F.R.I.E.N.D.S fan. There was an episode where Ross was selling girl scout cookies, and he got competitive selling. He called himself the Cookie Dude, and that was where we got our reference, and we ran with it.”
Such a simple name, but it would surely get the attention of F.R.I.E.N.D.S fans. And even if you don’t get the reference, the name is still relevant, catchy, and memorable for cookie lovers.
4. Create an Attractive and User-Friendly Website Design
Having an online presence is essential. But simply having a website is not enough – your site needs to be attractive and user-friendly if you want to succeed in the online food business.
Here are some tips to help you create an attractive and user-friendly website design for your food business:
- Use high-quality images. Given that you’re in the online food business, you must be able to showcase your product to your customers where they could say that it’s tasty just by looking at it.
- Keep the navigation simple. Not everyone is techy enough to explore your website, so plus points if you make it easier for your customers to navigate through your website.
- Use clear calls to action. Don’t leave your audience hanging! What do you want them to do next? Is it to place their orders? Or maybe get their free vouchers by subscribing to your list? Whatever it is, clearly show your calls to action, so they know what to do next.
- Use white space to your advantage. Also called negative space. These blank areas on your website make your content easier to read and gives your audiences time to relax their eyes and prevent eye strain.
|It’s easy to create a user-friendly website if you’re using a simple online store builder! (Just like ours! *wink*wink*)
5. Develop High-Quality Content That Is Both Informative and Engaging
It’s important to remember that quality is key. Informative, well-written content will help improve your website’s search engine ranking. And it will also encourage visitors to spend more time on your site – and hopefully convert into customers.
Here are a few tips to help you develop content that is sure to please both search engines and visitors alike:
- Write for your audience, not for the search engines.
- Keep your content fresh and up-to-date.
- Use engaging visuals to complement your text.
6. Use Social Media to Reach Out to Potential Customers and Build Relationships With Them
Thanks to social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, businesses can now easily:
- Connect with potential customers.
- Get them interested in your product.
- Build a relationship with your consumers.
Just like what Jerwin Damay of Tintan’s Pastries shared during the event:
“During the first day of the lockdown, March 16, 2020, she (his wife) baked pound-sized cookies, and she just said, ‘let’s send this to PGH’. We sent, I think, a hundred or 200 pieces of pound-sized cookies during that time to frontliners, and then we just sent it anonymously. But the feedback was that it was so great.”
“The stories of the frontliners were that they hadn’t eaten lunch or dinner that day and were eating the pound-sized cookies as a meal for that day. So with that story, it empowered us — and pushed us — to make this program called ‘Bake It Forward’.
We didn’t even think of it as a marketing strategy during that time, but it became a way for us to grow during the pandemic. People started to order, and friends also started to support the ‘Bake It Forward’ Movement, so we were able to send 10,000 pieces of pound-sized cookies during this time.”
7. Offer Great Customer Service and Respond Promptly to Customer Inquiries
The online food business is a very competitive industry. That’s why you need to offer excellent customer service and respond promptly to customer inquiries to succeed.
Chef Jonas Ng of James & Daughters shared how they are with their customers:
“We actually try to have a restaurant where regulars know regulars. We all know each other by name, and our guests know us by first name. We know them. They get to make requests. And they treat us like their extension kitchen.
We’re starting to build a real community where our guests know our other guests. We get to know our guests and invest time and effort in getting to know our clients. They become regulars. Then they become our friends. And we become a part of their lives, which is truly different and truly enriching.”
|Responding to customers promptly is easy with a social commerce app that funnels all messages into one inbox!
8. Keep on Experimenting and Innovating
With so many choices and so much competition, you need to stand out from the crowd. And the best way to do that is to constantly try new things and find new ways to improve your business.
That means experimenting with new recipes, new ingredients, and new cooking methods. By staying up to date on the latest trends in the food industry, you can constantly innovate and develop new food products.
Here’s what Martin Jordana of Cookie Dude PH said about that:
“We’re so proud of where we are, and I think it has a lot to do with our product. We love it. We love the quality of ingredients we use. We make sure we don’t skimp on any of our good-quality ingredients: lots of chocolates and very good real butter… Alexis took so much time and love in making the cookie. It probably took us three or four months in just trial and error in making the perfect, consistent cookie.”
But innovation doesn’t stop there…
9. Find a Better Way to Reach Your Customers
The restaurant industry is constantly evolving from innovating a food product to venturing into the online food delivery business. If you’re not constantly innovating, you’ll quickly fall behind in today’s online food business.
For restaurant owners with a brick-and-mortar restaurant business and offering a restaurant delivery service:
- Have you already set up your online ordering system with a reliable online food delivery platform or mobile application?
- Have you considered opening online grocery stores to sell non-cooked food online?
- How are you ensuring food safety and managing customer satisfaction so your customers can enjoy restaurant-quality food at home?
And for all small business owners in the food industry – to reach your target market and expand your customer base:
- Are you already doing digital marketing, such as social media marketing, influencer marketing, and email marketing?
- Are you leveraging technology to find new ways of selling your food, such as using a food delivery app or a social commerce mobile app?
- Have you considered streamlining your online food ordering process and food delivery service by using an eCommerce platform that allows you to automate ordering, payment processing, and book shipping?
Bottom line: You can attract new customers and keep them coming back for more by constantly innovating and making things accessible for your customers!
Now that you have an idea of how to succeed in the online food business, It’s time to put your business plan into action.
Keep in mind that running a food business is no easy feat. It is essential to keep track of your online marketing efforts and analyze the results to see what is working and what is not.
Doing so will help you stay ahead of the competition — and be on your way to a successful online food business!
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