3 Key Factors for Business Success in Food and Beverage

The food and beverage retail industry is wide-ranging and dynamic, making it paramount for small businesses to stand out among competitors and shift to match consumer demands.

U.S. sales in this sector were expected to reach $1.378 trillion last year and to surpass $1.578 trillion in 2026, according to a June forecast by eMarketer.

Whether you're considering a startup or already operating a small business in the food and beverage industry, such as a grocery store, restaurant, convenience store, etc., you'll want to consider these four key factors for success.


Know Your Customers

Understanding your customers, i.e., their buying habits, how they shop, what they're buying, etc., can be vital to building your business and growth strategy.

Look for relevant information about your customers through direct engagement, such as email and surveys, social media and other purposeful means, as well as through data collected by POS and CRM software.

Your POS software, which requires reliable high-speed business internet for fast and seamless transactions, collects data when a transaction is processed at your store. Depending on its specific features, your system sorts data into categories such as inventory, sales, product, customer, and staff.

"Sales data can help you run a more profitable business," says a post by Shopify, which offers POS software. "It helps you know what times of the day or year are your peak sales periods."

"Sales data gives you both macro- and micro-level insights," explains the blog by Sebastien Rankin.

"At the macro level, POS sales data shows your gross and net sales and the total number of units you sold over a given period of time. At the micro level, sales data shows your store's average order value, average items per order, and net sales for the day."

Customer feedback is particularly important if you're just starting your food and beverage business, says a blog by Repsly, a retail execution software company for the CPG industry.

"It is essential that you improve and adapt your product over time, based on the feedback of your customers," writes Molly Brogie.

"Customer feedback will lead you directly to your next decisions — what will you expand upon? What will you cut back on? By basing decisions on customer feedback, you ensure the success of your product."


Respond to Consumer Trends

In the grocery sector, businesses are paying attention to ongoing customer demand for convenience and "value" and in response are increasing their stock of prepared food items to attract new and repeat customers, according to a recent article by the industry news site Grocery Dive.

"As shoppers fret about their finances, grocers have found that their food service offerings, from hot bars to packaged meals, are bright spots that provide key advantages in competing with restaurants," says the post.

Further, it explains, grocers and other food store owners who are offering these types of items are making sure to market the value of these options. "The industry is also seeing grocers sharpen their retail media approaches, with many grocers now exploring in-store advertising opportunities."


Mind Digital Channels

It's important for small businesses to keep their digital channels aligned with their on-site communications, promotions and brand.

You want to bridge the gap between what's happening online and in your store, where most of your sales are, advises Suzy Davidkhanian, vice president of content at Insider Intelligence, in a post by the market research and data firm.

Online sales continue to grow in the U.S. grocery sector — some industry analyses even predict it could emerge as the top ecommerce category in the next couple years.

Historically the three categories that have led the ecommerce market are apparel and accessories; computer and consumer electronics; and furniture and home furnishings, according to Emarketer as reported by Insider Intelligence.

"But in recent years, growth has been fueled by essential goods, including food and beverage items, personal care products, and household supplies," the post says. "This shift will take grocery to the top of the four major e-commerce categories by 2026."

According to Insider Intelligence, Emarketer forecasts that digital grocery sales will account for 19 percent of U.S. e-commerce sales in 2026, surpassing apparel and accessories as the largest e-commerce category.


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