E-Commerce: Lifeline or Flatline?

Bricks and clicks can coexist, so how can c-stores play both sides?

THE PLAYER: SMALL, NICHE BRANDS

THE GAME: BORN ONLINE, DEMOCRACY RULES

It’s transcendent: The little guy needs a big break, and in food and beverage retailing, the break comes courtesy of Amazon and Google.

According to a 2016 survey conducted by Bloom-Reach, more shoppers go to Amazon before Google when they know what they’re looking for.

But if they’re not sure, an unbranded search on Google gives smaller brands a chance to thrive. According to Profitero, emerging brands are more aggressively optimizing product content because they know it gives them an advantage in Amazon searches.

“It’s these brands that often lack aggressive brick-and-mortar store distribution. Shoppers are trained to look for them at Amazon,” says Pearl of Profitero.

“For smaller brands, it’s an enormous opportunity to grow because they can bypass natural distribution hurdles, a costly, time-consuming process that’s intimidating. E-commerce participation is actually heaven-sent for smaller brands,” says Bishop.

Take Kind Snacks, a poster child for building a loyal online following to drive the lion’s share of business at the outset. “These people are an example of how a brand got started online and then expanded physical distribution,” says Bishop. “They were fully supported by Amazon in the early days.”

While establishing reputations online, many smaller regional brands have capitalized on e-commerce exposure to become viable inside more stores geographically, which actually bodes well for retailers seeking to expand their product mix.

“These brands are leveraging initial digital retail success to expanded distribution in other channels,” says Anderson of Profitero.

Continued: Amazon Prime, Dash, Etc.: The ‘Man’ Behind The Curtain