Increase in e-commerce sales offers ‘huge’ opportunity

THE increase in online food sales amidst the Covid-19 pandemic offers a ‘huge’ opportunity for manufacturing and trade companies, CBS-System has said.

Timo Schaffrath, the firm’s marketing and PR manager, said, “A recent study from GlobalData has forecast that the UK online food & grocery retail market will grow by 25.5% this year. Nevertheless, even before coronavirus, the figure for 2020 was still an impressive 8.5%.”

He added that proper planning will be ‘essential’ to maximise the opportunities to continue the trend – and rather than trying to make short-term gains, companies should take the longer view.

Mr Schaffrath said, “An online shop cannot, and need not, be built in a day. To be successful from the start, it is important to have the systems in place to ensure all relevant information is correctly displayed and regularly updated, and that customers receive a fast response and prompt deliveries.”

CBS said that an adequate ERP system to act as the technical basis for the digital shopping baskets is key to achieving this. The firm said that ERP is essential because, “It lays the foundation for easy implementation of automatic, up-to-date agreements on prices and discounts, and product specifications such as weight and use-by dates. It also delivers vital traceability information once a product has been despatched.”

The company also recommended the establishment of a coherent and easy to navigate representation of their existing product catalogue. To achieve this, CSB said that the home shop page should replace the store’s website homepage – thus reducing the number of clicks for customers to reach the page to begin their shop.

Another suggestion from CSB for the successful establishment of an online shop is for companies to start with their current customer base. Mr Schaffrath said, “Online selling will firstly provide added value to existing customers and enable a business to establish itself in the market; this is preferable to trying to attract new customers from the start, which will inevitably require substantial investment. Similarly, it will be more economical in the short-term to stick to the local area rather than attempting to go nationwide or global from the outset.

“Online shopping is fast becoming the new reality for the food sector. With the perfect integration of ERP and an online shop, companies will be off to a flying start in being able to make the best of this opportunity.”