Restaurant owner talks over notes with chef

Advice for Food and Beverage Retailers

Business owners in the food and beverage industry understand the importance of standing out from your competitors in this wide-ranging sector, where U.S. sales are estimated to reach more than $1.3 trillion last year.


A report in June by eMarketer, which predicted sales last year to reach $1.378 trillion, forecast sales in the food and beverage industry will surpass $1.578 trillion in 2026.


If you’re an entrepreneur looking at starting a small business in this dynamic industry or already running one, take a look at this advice for doing so successfully.


Stay up on trends and respond. For example, grocery and other food store businesses that are paying attention to the customer demand for convenience and “value” are responding by increasing their stock of prepared food items to attract new and repeat customers.


A recent article by Grocery Dive reports, “As shoppers fret about their finances, grocers have found that their foodservice offerings, from hot bars to packaged meals, are bright spots that provide key advantages in competing with restaurants.”


The business owners who are offering these types of items are making sure to market the value of these options, says the post by the industry news media site.


 “The industry is also seeing grocers sharpen their retail media approaches, with many grocers now exploring in-store advertising opportunities.”


Be informed about competitors. While applicable for all businesses, this is paramount for those competing in the food and beverage industry.


Staying informed about what your competitors are doing, what they offer, etc., will help give you insight into how to differentiate your business.


For example, pay attention to your “assortment” as compared to other businesses, says Intelligence Insider analyst Suzy Davidkhanian, citing the way Amazon and Walmart have used the competitive information to differentiate themselves.


Walmart skews its grocery business toward fresh foods while Amazon leans toward pantry goods, she explains in a post by Intelligence Insider..


“That means that even though the two companies compete on a macro level, they may not be competing for the same consumer at the same time,” Davidkhanian adds. “It also means strategically expanding assortment could be a powerful way to take market share.” 


Create customer experiences.The customer demand for experiences, including enhanced shopping experiences, continues in this sector.


They crave more touchpoints and experiential opportunities to connect with brands in person, says Bolt PR vice president Laura Murphy in a post by Modern Restaurant Management (MRM).


Businesses wanting to satisfy this demand could hold in-store events, such as culinary workshops, classes and tasting sessions, and offer personalized product and shopping suggestions. Loyalty programs and subscription models can also enhance the shopping experience and foster deeper brand-customer relationships.


In a study by Forrester Consulting, 50 percent of consumers say personalization based on their interests and past purchases have influenced their decision to purchase from a brand over the last year, reports Shopify, which commissioned the survey.


“Studies show that our emotions drive decisions and retention through our core senses, so being able to visually taste, touch, and experience a brand on the spot provides restaurant owners with incredible ways to build brand recognition and connect with their customers,” Murphy says in the MRM article.


Keep learning about your customers. Understand their buying habits, how they shop, what they’re buying, etc., as this information will be key to building customer loyalty and business growth.


This type of information can be discovered through direct engagement with customers, such as email and  surveys, social media and various other intentional means, and by analyzing data collected by POS and CRM software.


POS software, which requires reliable high-speed business internet for fast and seamless transactions, collects data when a transaction is processed at your store.


While specific features vary, POS systems can sort data in categories such as inventory, sales, product, customer and staff, providing relevant information in several areas.


“Sales data gives you both macro- and micro-level insights,” writes Sebastien Rankin in a blog for Shopify, which offers POS software.


Having access to this type of information, such as times of sales and peak sales periods, can help you run a more profitable business, the blog adds.