There has been a seismic shift in how consumers discover, experience and purchase food products in the past several years. According to recent industry research, data from IBM’s U.S. Retail Index, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift away from physical stores to digital shopping by roughly five years. Additionally, industry analysts estimate that nearly 18 percent of all global retail sales will occur online this year.
This changing reality also comes with the fact that navigating e-commerce and online marketing can be both intimidating and overwhelming for both scaling and established food and beverage businesses. To provide guidance for these companies, the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) recently partnered with Clutch Performance to publish the “Demystifying Digital Marketing and E-Commerce for Food Businesses” toolkit.
The online learning module fills a need in the industry and helps AURI better share information with clients. The goal of this learning module is to demystify e-commerce and digital marketing for Minnesota’s food businesses, providing both fundamental information and considerations for these businesses as they consider how to build their brand’s online presence.
Development of this learning module was conducted in partnership with Clutch Performance, a Minneapolis-based food marketing firm, and was funded in part by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. It was one of the projects selected for AURI’s annual Ag Innovation Partnership Program.
The toolkit covers several topics, including best practices in developing a web-based e-commerce platform and enhancement of a brand’s online presence. It also addresses some of the most useful and popular tools, platforms and services that businesses can use to effectively connect with clients as part of a digital marketing strategy.
The final section focuses on e-commerce considerations specific to food and ag businesses, including an overview of existing online retailers and considerations for pricing, selling, storing, and shipping products to consumers.
“Consumer preference is changing rapidly. To adapt to the new realities, food and beverage companies need to have a stronger digital presence. However, many questions arise as businesses embrace this “online” reality,” said Jason Robinson, AURI’s business development director for food. “With this educational guide we consolidated many of necessary resources into one place to help businesses use these tools effectively to tell their stories to consumers. We look forward to sharing this valuable tool with the industry.”
The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute’s mission is to foster long-term economic benefit through value-added agricultural products. It accomplishes this by using science and technology to help develop new uses for agricultural products. It partners with businesses and entrepreneurs to generate economic impact in Minnesota communities by helping businesses take advantage of innovative opportunities in four focus areas: biobased products, renewable energy, coproducts and food. AURI provides a broad range of services, including applied research and development, scientific assistance and a targeted network of resources to develop value-added uses for crops and coproducts.