Can food be sold online?
Before we delve into how to sell food online, let’s answer another pressing question you’re probably curious about: can food be sold online?
The simple answer is yes. While there might be restrictions on what exactly you can sell or general rules and regulations about selling food online depending on where you’re located, you can absolutely sell food online.
How to decide which food to sell online?
Once you decide you step into the online food business ring, you need to zero in on what you want to sell. You could either be an aggregator and sell food sourced from different vendors or sell food you produce yourself.
While the former allows you to sell a wider range of food products, the latter allows you to control every aspect of the business starting from the production budget to your profit margins. Within each of these subtypes, there are different categories of food that you can sell, including prepackaged mixes, baked goods and confectionaries, freshly prepared meals, homegrown raw ingredients, and more.
These categories come with their own set of regulations that you need to follow to sell them online.
What are the legal and licensing aspects of starting an online food business?
Depending on where you’re located, the regulations for selling any type of food online vary greatly. On a general note, here are some basic rules you’ll most likely have to follow if you’re looking to sell food online:
- A valid state business license
- Zonal clearance and all required permits from the local government
- Annual kitchen inspection is done by the health department. Frequency of the inspection is decided by local and state authorities
- Proper kitchen, including storage for all food, such as cold and dry
These are just the basic requirements you’ll need to meet before starting your online food business. Detailed guidelines will be available online on the local government’s website or at the local authority’s office.
How to find a reliable supplier to sell food online?
The key to running any successful business is finding partners you can count on. For an online food business, finding suppliers who’ll support you wholeheartedly is essential.
No matter if you’re selling food products that you make from scratch or reselling those made by others, you will need a reliable supplier to get you either the raw ingredients or the finished products. Here are a few key points to remember when looking for a supplier:
- Find suppliers that specialize in sourcing food products and ingredients
- Look for suppliers online since it’s easier to find reviews of their past partnerships
- Before finalising anything, look into the supplier’s certifications and supply chain
- Start out with a week-long trial period before signing off on anything long term to see if the supplier is able to meet your requirements
If you don’t feel comfortable engaging with an individual supplier, you can always source your ingredients from warehouse stores like Costco, Walmart, and others.
Is it important to package and label the food products when we sell food online?
Yes, it’s even more important for an online food business to correctly label its products. In fact, in the US, every food product should have labels and disclose all the ingredients used to make the product. You’re also required to mention if specific food allergens like peanuts or soybeans are used in the food.
On a more business level, how well you package and label your food products help create a distinct image in the minds of your customers. This is crucial for an online business that’s just starting out and doesn’t have much of a marketing budget.
How to set up an online food store?
Once you have a food product to sell, a supplier lined up and the packaging and label details ready, it’s time for the next big step; selling food online. Unsurprisingly, given just how much technology has enabled businesses, setting up an online store happens to be amongst the easiest parts of selling food online. Why? Because you don’t actually have to do a whole lot, especially with the advent of e-commerce platforms like Volusion, Shopify, and Yelo.
Take for instance Yelo, where you can create an online marketplace from scratch within a day! With automated order management, delivery dispatches, and custom marketing campaigns to help scale your business, an online marketplace builder like Yelo is the perfect place to create a food ordering system. To make your job even easier, you can take advantage of the following benefits as well:
- Easy order management by changing menus, consolidating orders and enable or disabling outlet locations with a single tap
- Monitor the number of orders, repeat or cancelled orders and ratings and reviews from your customers to analyse your food business’ performance
- Custom UI/UX and unique brand language that helps create a distinct look for your online food business
- Over 100 payment gateways, 500+ integrations and over 50 languages for a truly global business
How to market an online food business?
Once your online store is ready and raring to go, you need to inform customers that you’re open for business. How do you do that for an online business? With online marketing, of course! Create a social media page or two for your business and start posting about your business with the correct keywords and hashtags.
Also, get people to sign up for your email newsletter so that they’re aware of what you’re selling. If you’re selling homemade food products, offline marketing at local markets and street fests is also a great way to reach the target audience.
If all this sounds like a lot of work, you can always count on online marketplace consultants like Yelo to create a custom marketing campaign for your food delivery business as well. Now that you’re aware of the basics of how to sell food online, start your food startup and get started today!
Subscribe to our newsletter
'Jungleworks Entrepreneur's Den' to get access to the latest industry & product insights.