The Future of Food Retail: A Spotlight on E-Commerce

November 2021

With e-commerce accelerating in the food industry at record speed, it is now undeniable that a key strategy to gain market share in the grocery retail industry is through online channels. This report focuses on what strategies food manufacturers should consider to improve their ability to reach and engage with customers across multiple online channels, including DTC models, social media platforms and all-in-one apps, as shopper expectations of the digital experience increase.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

E-commerce should be at the forefront of business strategies

Although the packaged food industry remains one of the FMCG industries with the smallest penetration of e-commerce, the channel has skyrocketed during 2020 and has reinforced the need to prioritise online strategies to succeed in an increasingly digital world. This together with the incredibly tech-savvy generations of Gen Z and Millennials, food brands and retailers alike need to find ways to meet this demand.

Multichannel e-commerce strategy is pivotal to succeed

Food manufacturers need to focus on a multichannel strategy to improve their ability to reach and engage with customers as shopper expectations of the digital experience increase.New business models are crucial to achieve this so customers are able to interact with a brand or a service provider wherever they may be. Strong focus should go into the smartphone as a key path to purchase in the food and drinks space as well as curating the most adequate price strategies and product assortment, paying attention to the product features that can differentiate a product from the competition in the online environment.

Engagement and retention of customers is crucial in the new online environment

New emerging models such as direct-to-consumer or subscriptions can help to build consumer loyalty. The creation of these platforms by brands enables them to get customer information in real time, which is crucial to understand what are consumers’ preferences, personalising the communication and allowing brands to react with their innovations.New commerce ecosystems such as social media platforms and all-in-one apps are also becoming incredibly powerful to connect with and engage consumers.

More personalised nutrition on the horizon

By leveraging the vast amount of data collected through online channels, food players can offer more personalised products and services, for example, targeting food allergies or helping consumers transition to a plant-based diet by providing personalised offerings and meal-planning tools. On the flip side, competition is intensifying and should be analysed carefully as online channels offer growing potential for private label development and lines are increasingly blurring with foodservice.

Key findings
Online shopping disrupts the food industry and is here to stay
E-commerce is the main growth channel across all food segments
Food has historically been notoriously slow to react to e-commerce
Penetration of e-commerce differs across geographies
Online channels shaping the future of food retail
The smartphone is key in the online path to purchase of food and drinks
Defining positioning and assortment online is crucial for success
Hyperlocal and micro-fulfilment is disrupting online grocery retail
A need to capture lost impulse occasions in an online world
Digital ecosystems and business models fuel engagement and retention
DTC models are pivotal to build customer relationships
Subscription delivery businesses to help rise brand awareness
Social commerce set to take a bigger portion of e-commerce sales
Livestreaming replicates brick-and-mortar experiences online
Super apps show tremendous long-term potential
Manufacturers and retailers alike are responding to the boom in demand
Danone’s So Delicious launches DTC shipping for its frozen desserts
Gerber’s subscription to build long-lasting relationships with consumers
Impossible Foods taps into meal kits as new route into consumers’ homes
Kit Kat taps into livestreaming in China to drive impulse sales
# PlayWithPringles campaign on social media engages with digital natives
Getir : the hyperlocal delivery platform that is expanding across the globe
Uber Eats: helping to recover snacking occasions online
The power of customer insights from e-commerce data
Stand out in a completely new competitor landscape
Key action points


This is the total amount of each of the eight nutrients purchased and is the sum of packaged food, fresh food, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks.

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