While we know the food & beverage industry is a competitive realm online, it is one area which requires selling tangible product alongside digital marketing. Until you are able to download your breakfast burrito onto a USB, customers need to find your product to buy it.

This is where multichannel distribution comes in. These are big words for a simple concept. While customers can’t eat the food digitally, they can order it online. Some companies will only sell their food & beverage product online, while others will work with distributors to get their product out there. Supermarkets, convenience stores, street food vans and food festivals are just some of the many channels through which your product can be purchased.

While the concept may be simple, its implementation is not. With so many different distributors to work with, it can be difficult to access customer data to see what is working and what might need changed to promote customer loyalty. Many big chains like Walmart, Whole Foods, etc. might sell your product, but they won’t always have the resources to provide you the right customer data.

This is where customer loyalty programs come in to play.

Multichannel distribution means you need to take all of these outlets and collate the information from them through the one platform. Customer loyalty platforms like the ones we offer at Social&Loyal help to make a complicated system run smoothly. You can find out who is buying your product where, along with other useful information on shopping habits and preferences of consumers.

Customer loyalty in the food & beverage industry is imperative due to the nature of this business. Food & drink are perishable and brands in this business make their money by repeat custom. You need to engage customers before and after they buy your product. This means creating a desirable product which will be enjoyed by the consumer, but also making this product reflect their lifestyle and encouraging repeat custom.

To encourage this repeat custom, you will need to get personal and inventive. This means engaging with the customer not only in store through packaging and promotion, but by following up purchases. This will involve, but is not limited to, using online services and social media to build customer loyalty.

Your brand is not just the product which you offer. It is also the experience which is provided to the customer after it is purchased. This experience needs to be the kind which wants to be shared on social media and which makes the customer feel like they are doing more than just eating a pizza/sandwich/fruit salad or whatever it is you provide.

To do this, you need to make your brand desirable beyond simple taste bud pleasure. In saying this, it does help if your product is also delicious.

When you were younger, you may have been excited to run down to breakfast in the morning and be the first to get the prize in your breakfast cereal. This is an old school example of how brands can gain customer loyalty beyond simply the product.

 

Top loyalty programs

 

With today’s increasingly digitized marketplace, similar principles can be used to increase customer loyalty. A customer loyalty program can help you track this loyalty across different channels. This means in-store, on social media, through your own websites and apps and new digital technologies as they develop.

If someone goes into a store or looks online, they will see your product among many competitors. What will make you stand out is to offer them more. Although you will always have people looking for deals, this doesn’t even mean your product has to be the lowest price. Last year Nestlé made the claim, backed up by a 2015 Nielsen poll, that millennials are willing to pay more for quality and sustainability.

If you sell a pack of cookies which is a similar quality to the pack next to it, there might not be much to guide the consumer. If buying your product reflects positively on said consumer’s lifestyle, you have an advantage. If you offer more than simply cookies, you could take their customer loyalty on into the future. This means acquiring the customer in the first place and then keeping them loyal by immersing them in your brand.

Ways to do this can include promo codes on the physical products which allow you to track how the consumer is buying your product. You give them a discount or prize for doing so and they will be happily to volunteer something important to your marketing strategy like an email address or completing a survey.

You can cross multichannel distributors with competitions and use contestant information for your loyalty platform. You can then filter this into your social media plan and reward users for providing referrals, promoting you across their own social media accounts with shares and hashtags and even providing old school word of mouth recommendations.

Once you start, you can build on this good footing with contests, a points based reward system and whatever clever strategies you care to create.

This way, the next time the customer is in the supermarket, health food store or whichever channel your product is being sold, they will feel a greater connection to the brand.

Using the information providing by your streamlined customer loyalty platform, you can analyze who is buying your product and find ways to keep them engaged in the future. This means studying trends and keeping up with constantly fluctuating demographics.

With this information, you can use it to influence your social media presence. You can find out who you are selling to, boost posts for this demographic and find creative ways to appeal to their followers also.

Building up customer loyalty and having the resources to provide proof of your success can also feedback into the multichannel distribution services you use. These distributors will be happy to hear about your success. If you prove that you can make sales and show that you are ready to market in a future forward way, opportunities will arise.

The distributor will be more likely to give you better real estate both in store and online. They will also be more inclined to work together with your promotions if you can prove with your customer loyalty platform that they have worked before.

Bringing your distribution channels together means you can compare and contrast them, segment your key demographics and strategize for future promotions. A good customer loyalty platform makes this once difficult task easy to manage and can give you the edge over competitors.

If you want to learn more, schedule a free consultation with our loyalty experts! 

 

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Marcos Martínez
Software Engineer & Head of IT

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