E-commerce has reached the grocery aisles. In fact, online grocery shopping has nearly doubled in the last year. A report by the Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen shows that 49 percent of U.S. consumers are now shopping for groceries online. And retailers from Amazon’s Whole Foods to Target, Kroger and Sam’s Club are investing in it too. 

Selling fresh foods online is very different than selling cosmetics, apparel, electronics or household goods in the online space.  Perishable foods have a much shorter lifecycle and that means special handling and packaging materials.

So what to do if you’re not prepared? There are many things to consider when preparing fresh foods for e-commerce. For one, skip the overpacked tertiery and/or secondary packaging. And as a top concern for consumers, make it frustration-free. However, if your product must be kept cold, make sure the appropriate packaging is used — and a temperature reader on pack wouldn’t hurt.

Tetra Pak found that 80 percent of consumers in South Korea — the most developed country for e-commerce — and 74 percent in the U.S. say they would avoid goods with several layers of packaging for environmental reasons. 

As online grocery sales increase, food and beverage producers need to look closely at their packaging and come up with lightweight solutions for the journey from the warehouse to the delivery. Additionally, demand for sustainable packaging is still on the rise, so do the due diligence early and reap the rewards of consumer loyalty later.

Online grocers must be able to stay one step ahead of competitors, including giants like Amazon (with its purchase of Whole Foods earlier this year) and Walmart (which purchased Jet.com for online purchasing). Options such as “buy online and pick up in store” are gaining momentum, as is fast-and-free home delivery. 

Is it worth it? For any grocery retailer, you bet. Smart packaging with unique digital codes will enhance the online grocery experience, providing an easier way to shop. Read about smart label technology on page 28.

Learn more about e-grocery in a Q&A provided by Tetra Pak on our website at  packagingstrategies.com/webexclusives.

Personally, I prefer to “click and pick.” It’s easy, free, and I don’t need to be home in order to get a delivery. Plus, my dogs go haywire when the “scary” delivery driver comes to the door. So how do you grocery shop?

Kristen Kazarian