Candy Industry Blog

How can candymakers sell impulse items online?

Confectioners need to embrace online grocery shopping before it’s too late.

December 4, 2013
Online shopping

One of the most intriguing news stories to sweep the Internet over the Thanksgiving weekend featured all the best keywords: “drones”, “Amazon”, and “the future.”

Online retailer Amazon is working on drones that would deliver orders to shoppers about 30 minutes after they hit the “confirm” button online. 

Crystal Lindell
Crystal Lindell

While it will still be a few years before that’s possible, the company claims that as early as 2018, shoppers will be able to click on a few items on Amazon, and then have them dropped at their doorstep a half hour later by a drone, according to an article in The Guardian.

Even if it that is a “hugely optimistic timeline,” as the author of the article points out, and instead it takes them 10 years, that’s still not very long.

And it’s just the kind of thing that will more people flock to online shopping.

Which we all know could spell disaster for candy companies, at least according to a Reuters article.

Their story focuses on the current state of online shopping.

“Grocery is one of the last areas of retail to go online, due to challenges around delivery and perishability, but a shift is underway,” it states. “ is expanding its grocery business in the United States and abroad and traditional grocers are boosting their own digital capabilities as well.

While that may not seem like much to worry about, the problem seems to be that online shoppers behave differently than consumers walking through a brick-and-mortar store.

“In Britain, the country where e-commerce is most popular, about 13 percent of people do all or most of their grocery shopping online,” the author writes. “Yet this only accounts for 5 percent of overall spending, suggesting consumers spend more when they visit a store. That is because online shoppers search for what they need, usually sticking close to their shopping lists. They don't spontaneously buy magazines they opened while waiting to pay, or chocolate to eat on the go.”

Did you catch that? Online shoppers aren’t spontaneous.

And the article comes right out and names names, pointing out companies that are most at risk if online grocery shopping becomes more prevalent.

“Companies most at risk are Mondelez International, Mars Inc and Nestle, the top three candy makers...” it reads.

Ok, so we’ve established the fact that candy companies need to be freaking out about online grocery shopping.

Now, I know your first instinct is going to probably be, “Eh, it’s not really that big of a problem right now. People like going into stores. And they’ll keep doing that. And impulse candy sales will be just fine.”

But let me share a story with you about another industry that ignored the internet: Newspapers. I can tell you firsthand that they didn’t believe the internet machine would amount to anything. And they thought their precious classified sections were totally safe so they just ignored online classified websites, like Craigslist. Now, people are ignoring newspapers.

So, I beg of you candy companies, please, please, please start addressing this issue now.

In fact, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Put ads for your product right on the check-out page. And, make it so that consumers can simply click on the ad to add your candy to their order.  
  • Scatter candy listings throughout the listings of non-impulse items, i.e. when someone searches for a flat-screen TV, list a theater box candy as every eighth result.   
  • Give discounts on candy items to shoppers who reach a certain total on their order. For example, if someone buys more than $30 worth of items, give them half off on their bag of Snicker’s Bites.  
  • Place candy ads on the homepages of major brick-and-mortar stores and major online retailers.

This problem isn’t going to go away. And even if Amazon never perfects that drone delivery technology, something else will come along that will inspire more people to do their grocery shopping online.

So the sooner you embrace the interweb, and start thinking of it as one more place to sell impulse candy bars and packs of gum, the sooner shopping online will be a sweet experience.

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