Last week, Natural Products Expo East, a gathering of top retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors in the natural products industry, hosted its annual conference in Whitebox’s hometown, Baltimore, Maryland. The event was attended by more than 29,000 people, including 1,500 exhibitors spread over 4 floors filled with new product innovation, along with 3 days loaded with educational content from experts across many specialties, not to mention endless opportunities for networking and entertainment.
Our team was out and about and pulled together key findings from speaking with some of the most innovative natural brands about their ecommerce strategies and this is what they heard:
There are many paths to purchase.
While Amazon is by far the largest ecommerce platform, there are many consumer paths to purchase that lead to brand growth. Many natural products are achieving success in directing customers to their brand through storefronts other than Amazon, and are more frequently using partners for their DTC fulfillment needs. Many loyal and new customers have an increased level of comfort buying direct from the brand instead of on a larger less specialized marketplace.
Customer insights wanted.
First party sellers do not always have access to the detailed customer data needed to uncover insights and data to help their business. They are looking for ways to gather insights into the buying behavior of their customers - including information about items frequently purchased alongside their brand, average cart size, customer location, and lifetime value.
Ecommerce opens doors to new customers.
Organic, gluten-free, hemp, vegan, keto, paleo, plant-based can now be presented more easily to new customers. With growing competition for brick and mortar shelf space, and increasingly selective consumers, ecommerce marketplaces offer natural product brands an opportunity to broaden their customer base.
Brand protection is a priority.
Companies having the most success with their ecommerce strategies are diligent about protecting their brand. This is especially so with respect to natural products. For this reason they are creating and enforcing policies with their partners to ensure they, as brand owners, maintain control of their advertising, listings, pricing and distribution.
Using fulfillment as a differentiated sales driver on your branded site.
FBA isn’t the only fulfillment option, and not always the best. Brands with dynamic shipping options on their site can offer consumers the same “Prime” delivery options, and keep more of the profit themselves. Many brands are experimenting with free shipping promotions for multiple purchases and cart size. The additional control the brand has over the experience means the consumer can enjoy a branded packaging experience!