9 Food & Beverage Ecommerce Trends for CPG Brands in 2023

August 15, 2022

The food and beverage business is booming. The global packaged food market size is projected to reach $3,407.2 billion by 2030. And with thousands of new consumer packaged goods (CPG) businesses emerging every year, competition is fierce.

Online shoppers can’t interact with—or most importantly, taste—the items you’re selling in the food and beverage ecommerce space. But with so many brands leveraging a global shift to ecommerce, it’s certainly possible to scale your CPG empire online.

You just need to know how to reach DTC buyers and whet their appetite (pun intended.)

Below, we’ll share the current state of CPG ecommerce, alongside nine trends your food and beverage DTC brand should take advantage of.

Skip ahead to the CPG Ecommerce trends to try:

  1. Offer omnichannel fulfillment
  2. Use auto cart technology
  3. Offer subscriptions
  4. Be transparent about ingredients
  5. Sell via marketplaces
  6. Capitalize on TikTok
  7. Produce variety packs
  8. Create shoppable recipes
  9. Sell branded merchandise

The state of CPG food and beverage ecommerce

The ecommerce CPG industry is growing rapidly. In fact, food and beverage will account for 21.16% of all ecommerce sales in the US alone, generating $476.17 billion by 2025. This is an estimated 7.4% compounding annual growth rate (CAGR) for this vertical.

Food and beverage ecommerce trends food and beverage ecommerce
Credit: Statista

This growth is having a strong impact on the job market. According to the Consumer Brands Association:

  • One in every 10 American jobs is supported by the CPG industry
  • The CPG industry represents 10% of the U.S.’ national GDP
  • The average CPG job offers employees a $64,000 salary

To understand its explosive growth, we can look at how consumer tastes are changing amid world events. Take the grocery sector, for example. The average consumer spends between $150 and $300 per month on groceries. But instead of visiting their local brick-and-mortar store, the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns forced shoppers to grocery shop online.

What’s more, this shift seems more permanent than makeshift: online grocery sales in the US hit $7.2 billion in June 2022 alone (up 6% from last year.) And some 70% of US households (93 million) received one or more online grocery orders during 2021.

CPG brands with strong roots in ecommerce are set up to win.

An online store—particularly one with alternative fulfillment options that allow customers to seamlessly switch from online to offline (and back again)—helps food brands capture customers wherever they shop.

This strategy also improves profit margins: McKinsey found that perishable food brands who sell omnichannel see profit margins between 31% and 35%.

McKinsey and Company ecommerce trends food and beverage ecommerce
Credit: McKinsey & Company

The biggest problem for 58% of CPG retailers, however, is the supply chain. Deloitte reported that COVID-19 “broke” the global food supply chain, and its effects are still being felt:

  • Nine in 10 CPG leaders have paid more for ingredients over the past two years
  • Some 37% have changed more than 20 recipes due to high prices and unreliable product sourcing
  • Almost half have paused production and are now unable to meet consumer demand

CPG ecommerce retailers with resilient supply chains and strong brands are those who come out on top. According to McKinsey, companies that invest heavily in mass-market brand-building see 25% better gross margins.

Legacy retail brands are capitalizing on the trend by investing, acquiring, or launching new CPG brands. Take PepsiCo, for example. The soft drink retailer launched two new brands, Snacks.com and PantryShop.com, to sell directly to their consumers. The result? Sales almost doubled in a single quarter.

Nestle is another brand that’s taken this approach. It’s the top-grossing CPG brand, generating $93.6 billion in 2020—largely because of its acquisition of private label CPG brands such as KitKat, Nespresso, Häagen-Dazs, and Coffee-Mate.

PepsiCo food and beverage ecommerce trends food and beverage ecommerce
Credit: PepsiCo

9 ecommerce trends for the food and beverage industry

Ready to take advantage of the CPG industry’s shift to ecommerce? Here are the nine trends we suggest you try as you scale your food and beverage brand online.

1. Offer omnichannel fulfillment to meet modern expectations

Speed and cost are more important than ever. Some 48% of shoppers will abandon a purchase if extra costs (including shipping) are too high. Another 22% bounce if their item is perceived to take too long to arrive based on the store estimate.

While some DTC brands don’t have the luxury to compete with Amazon’s lure of free same-day delivery, omnichannel fulfillment acts as a way for CPG brands to get food products in a customer’s hands—without shipping it to their home. This includes:

  • Local delivery
  • Curbside pickup
  • Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS)

Some 40% of US consumers use BOPIS weekly to shop for groceries, namely because it’s more convenient, eliminates online shipping costs, and provides the product on the same day. It’s why online grocery stores that offer both pickup and home delivery services have higher weekly sales than those who don’t. If your DTC brand happens to have a retail location or popup shop experience, you can provide this hybrid experience.

Magnolia Bakery’s ecommerce experience, for example, offers BOPIS to local shoppers. You can create an online cart, choose a pickup location, and select a pickup date—all without entering the store. It makes shopping easier and more convenient for people who’d rather avoid shipping costs, still save time ordering online vs. in-store, and get their food quickly.

Magnolia Bakery food and beverage ecommerce trends food and beverage ecommerce
Credit: Magnolia Bakery

Overall, when offering omnichannel fulfillment options like this, consider how your omnichannel retail strategy on a whole becomes seamless at each touchpoint to match too.

#cta-paragraph-pb#Go behind the scenes of Magnolia Bakery’s ecommerce approach with their CMO Eddie Revis. Catch our exclusive chat with the iconic brand.

2. Use auto cart technology

Food and beverage companies have one major difference from other online retailers: customers are likely to buy items repeatedly. Most grocery shoppers typically buy 75% to 80% of the same things each week.

Your CPG brand can use auto cart technology to capitalize on this consistency. It predicts the items a customer is most likely to include in their next shopping cart, and automatically creates a pre-populated, personalized online shopping cart. Shoppers can checkout in just a few clicks.

Take it from Misfits Market. The online grocer uses auto cart technology to predict what a customer will buy as part of their next order. Customers can edit their cart pre-purchase, giving the retailer feedback on whether its suggestions were good or bad.

“It’s very common that berries are bought alongside apples. If you’re someone who buys berries all of the time, but you’ve never bought an apple, we’ll recommend, ‘Hey, you might like this new apple that we have.” — Kai Selterman, Chief Strategy Officer at Misfits Market (via Grocery Dive)

3. Offer subscriptions

HelloFresh is credited with driving growth in the food subscription industry. It’s the most downloaded food subscription box app in the US, with 7.2 million active subscribers paying $8.99 per meal kit.

Even if you’re not selling prepackaged boxes for customers to prepare their own meals at home, take a leaf from HelloFresh’s book. Similar to auto cart technology, subscriptions offer greater convenience for customers while also driving recurring revenue for your brand. Studies show that food and beverage subscriptions have the highest AOV of any industry.

Put together a subscription model for shoppers to have food/beverages shipped automatically. De La Calle Coffee, for example, positions its subscription as a cost-saver. Shoppers can get weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly shipments of their favorite drinks, billed automatically each month and reinforcing customer loyalty.

De La Calle food and beverage ecommerce trends food and beverage ecommerce
Credit: De La Calle

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4. Be transparent about ingredients

Related to cpg food trends, the health and wellness industry is tipped to be worth $1 trillion by 2026—an 18% increase from 2022.

Modern shoppers are increasingly aware of the food they’re eating. The International Food Information Council found that almost three quarters of Gen Z believe that their generation is more concerned about the environmental impact of food choices. This corroborates with the one in three Americans who say they’ve been getting more protein from plant-based sources.

“Millennial parents place much more emphasis on health and wellness than previous generations, which has brought about significant changes in the snack industry. With their historic spending power, these health-conscious caretakers are willing to pay more to avoid unnatural ingredients in their children’s snacks in order to provide them with the best nutrition possible.” —Shaunak Amin, Co-founder and CEO of SnackMagic

OLIPOP is one beverage retailer that’s being more transparent with its ingredients. The product packaging itself highlights the fact that its drinks contain probiotics and plant fiber. Product pages on its online store also have badges to show its drinks contain 9g of fiber, 3g of sugar, and non-GMO ingredients.

OLIPOP ecommerce food and beverage ecommerce
Credit: OLIPOP

OLIPOP’s Senior Ecommerce and Digital Product Manager, Melanie Edwards, recommends other retailers to be “upfront about what’s in your product and what’s not.

“Use recognizable icons on your website to let your consumers know if your product is vegan, gluten-free, NON-GMO, etc.,” Melanie adds. “These logos and icons elicit trust. Customers want their ecommerce food and beverage brands to be transparent and trustworthy.”

5. Expand to sell via marketplaces

Marketplaces connect buyers with customers looking to buy new products online. The biggest one is Amazon, which is the starting point for 53% of all digital shopping experiences and claims 18.6% of all food and beverage online sales.

If you haven’t already, consider embedding your CPG brand into those customer experiences by listing items for sale on marketplaces. Some options include:

WHOLLY Guacamole is one DTC, CPG food brand using this strategy to drive sales of its products. The retailer sells its guacamole through Walmart, taking advantage of its existing customer base and alternative fulfillment options (like local pickup).

Walmart search results food and beverage ecommerce trends food and beverage ecommerce
Credit: Walmart

#cta-paragraph-pb#When selling food and beverage products through platforms like Amazon, pay close attention to your profit margins. Marketplaces take a cut each time you sell an item through the platform. Diversify and retain strong margins by combining marketplace commerce with your own DTC ecommerce site.

6. Capitalize on TikTok

TikTok has a stronghold on social media buyers. The platform reported that food-related videos were the eighth most popular type of content in 2020, making its moniker “FoodTok” a worthy title.

“The organic traffic levels brands are seeing on TikTok right now is off the charts. Consumers are looking for new and unique brands on the platform, and food/beverage brands have the advantage of being able to easily sell small trial samples of their product.”— Filip Pejic, Founder of Pearly

Capture the 28% of people who use TikTok to find new ideas/inspiration by incorporating your food or beverage products into video content. That could be:

  • Unusual recipes
  • Blind taste tests
  • Cooking tips or hacks

BomBombs, for example, promotes its hot chocolate bombs on TikTok. Owner Boaz Shonfeld said the product had “built-in virality potential,” pairing its ecommerce TikTok content with the #hotchocolatebombs hashtag to spread awareness.

The hashtag now has over 332 million TikTok views, helping BomBombs to land coverage in Buzzfeed, Food Network, and Delish.

Hot Chocolate Bomb TikTok food and beverage ecommerce
Credit: TikTok

7. Bundle up variety packs

If customers don’t enjoy consuming your product, converting them into loyal customers is impossible. The problem is: online shoppers don’t know whether they’d like the taste of your product. Unlike in-person retail, they can’t test free samples before buying.

Support first-time shoppers to make a purchase by bundling your bestsellers together in a variety pack. Not only does it give them a chance to find their favorite flavors, it also reduces shipping costs. There’s no need to make several small orders and pay for shipping each time.

Tim Cigelske, Director of Communications at Sprecher Brewing Company says:

“I first noticed this trend when we started offering free shipping, which created an influx of new customers (not just the same diehards willing to pay $10 to $20 in shipping costs). As a result, our variety packs started becoming a bestseller, especially among new customers who land on our homepage and want to browse and try things out.”

This trend led to Tim creating a variety of new combinations, including its sparking lemonade variety pack. Customers can get 12 drinks for $34.99.

Sprecher Brewery food and beverage ecommerce trends food and beverage ecommerce
Credit: Sprecher Brewery

“This is where ecommerce has a competitive advantage over in-store retail, because shelf space in a store is limited by we can create as many combinations as our warehouse and fulfillment allows,” Tim adds. “The sky and our imagination are the limit.”

8. Create shoppable recipes

Depending on the food products you’re selling, there are likely hundreds of different ways to enjoy them. Inspire your audience—and give them confidence in any new purchases—by publishing shoppable recipes on your website.

Take Daring Foods, for example. The vegan CPG brand publishes shoppable recipes on their website, covered in rich media (without sacrificing site performance!). Each recipe clearly shows the Daring product used. A “quick add” button accessible from the recipe adds the needed product ingredients to an online shopping cart, ready for people to checkout in just a few clicks.

“If you’re on a recipe page and see a product you like, you can now quickly add it to your cart. This helps us incorporate products anywhere across the site.”— Joe Tao, Head of Platform & Delivery at Daring Foods

Daring ecommerce food and beverage ecommerce
Credit: Daring

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9. Sell branded merchandise

It might sound counterintuitive to sell non-food items as a CPG business. But some food businesses—those with loyal customer bases—are monetizing loyalty with custom merchandise.

Take Ray’s Bar NYC, for example. The restaurant has an online store which restocks merchandise in batches of 200-500 units, including a branded hoody that retails at $175. Ray’s Bar’s products have such high demand each restock sells out within 24 hours.

Rays ecommerce food and beverage ecommerce
Credit: Ray’s

Use the print-on-demand business model to create and sell branded merchandise through your store. From clothing to homeware, monetize your loyal customers (and raise awareness in alternative markets) with a merchandise product category based on your already built brand equity.

Leverage these CPG food ecommerce trends

The key to growing a CPG brand in the food industry is to keep up with consumer behavior. Share trendy content on TikTok, offer subscriptions, and get products to customers using the fulfillment options they’re already looking for.

Once you start acting on these trends, make sure your online store is equipped to handle an influx of new customers with an unbeatable shopping experience. Build high-converting site pages with Shogun Page Builder’s no-code functionality, content syncing, and more.

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Elise Dopson

Elise Dopson is a freelance writer for B2B commerce and martech companies. When she's not writing, you'll find her in the Peak Freelance community or on Twitter.

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