How CPG Brands Can Maximize Their Online Presence


From KIND Snacks to ParmCrisps to Hu Chocolate, we've collaborated with various consumer-packed-goods (CPG) brands in redefining their online presence over the years. The journey hasn't always started with e-commerce. For many, it's about understanding where their website fits into the grand scheme and how it can become a key player in driving growth.

Despite rapid growth in retail and Amazon, many of these brands grapple with understanding where their website, or e-commerce, can meaningfully contribute to their growth. Some are concerned with how e-commerce may strain long-standing relationships with traditional retailers; others struggle with the cost of fulfillment, and most don't know where to begin when it comes to creating an effective digital ecosystem.

The good news? There are many opportunities for these brands and several ways to think about tackling these challenges.

Defining the Purpose of the Website: Why Visit Your Site?

When I chat with CPG brands, I often ask them why someone would go out of their way to visit their website. I often picture someone standing in an aisle, holding two products, trying to determine which to go with. They go to the website (hopefully through a QR code) on their phone to learn more. Another popular use case is customers looking for where they can buy a product locally.

Regardless of whether or not your website has e-commerce functionality, it's critical to consider this question. For most CPG brands, table stakes for a website redesign include:

  • Brand Background: Many CPG brands have a compelling background story that sets them apart from competitors and connects with customers. Take our client Sweet Loren's as an example. They make vegan cookies, but why? Founder Loren Castle survived cancer in her twenties. Her personal battle inspired a profound mission to revolutionize her relationship with food and eliminate processed ingredients from her diet. It's a huge miss if customers miss out on these stories. Platforms like Tolstoy can help brands bring this story to life on their website through interactive videos with just a few clicks. Check out Sweet Loren's website to see it in action.
  • Ingredient Story/Sourcing: Depending on your value prop, customers may be most interested in understanding the ingredients in every product and where they came from. Don't gloss over this—put it up front and center! We once built an ingredient library and tracking tool for a vitamin brand that took pride in its sourcing.
  • Recipes: Your website isn't just about conversion; it's a tool to keep customers engaged and coming back. Chances are, they're buying our products every week or month. Recipes are critical for showcasing different ways to put the product to use, whether it's having fun over the holidays or creating a quick, refreshing treat.
  • Robust Store Locator: With so many opportunities to discover new brands today, users may seek out your website to find out where they can buy your products in a nearby store. Your website should address this need with a robust store locator. For brands with more than a couple of SKUs, get as specific as you can so customers know exactly what stores carry what SKUs. Here's an example we built for Patagonia Provisions using Destini.

What about E-Commerce? How to Start Strong with Shopify

For most of the CPG brands we work with, we'll recommend getting started on Shopify from day one, regardless of whether or not they offer e-commerce. In doing so, we can accomplish all of their content needs and leverage the Shopify app ecosystem for features like reviews, quizzes, and user-generated content, UGC. When they're ready to turn on e-commerce, it's a minimal effort vs. another re-platforming project.

For brands excelling on Amazon, we often recommend enabling Buy with Prime to start. Because Buy With Prime shares all customer data with the brand, this can help the brands establish a relationship with their customers, so when they launch new products or enter e-commerce, they have an audience to engage with.

Customer Data Through Online: Unlocking Insights for Success

One of the top advantages of investing in a website that acts as an online flagship is getting to know your customers. Platforms like Fetch are working to help CPG brands better get to know their retail customers, but this has always been a challenge, leaving some of the most successful CPG brands who don't have accurate insight into who their customers are and why they buy their products.

By establishing a website as a channel for customers, brands can begin the journey of getting to know their customers. For those who don't offer e-commerce, some tactics to do this are creating engaging content via email, building product finder quizzes, and offering exclusive access to discounts and coupons.

Platforms like Brij can help 'bridge' the gap with retail by creating digital experiences via a QR code, prompting customers to share information about themselves to gain access to new aspects of the brand. With e-commerce in place, brands can do all of the above while optimizing the pre and post-purchase journey to engage customers and drive repeat purchases. Over time, these inputs can also help better personalize customer's experience and messaging.

Okay, I'm Ready for E-Commerce: Strategic Approaches for Success

Once a brand decides they are ready to launch e-commerce, it doesn't always make sense to go live with their entire suite of products. Here are some ways to think about creating an e-commerce store that will engage customers without cannibalizing other channels:

  • Offer Subscriptions: Introduce a subscription model to encourage recurring purchases and build customer loyalty. Launching build-a-box subscription functionality for our client Once Upon a Farm has been a big win despite success in other channels.
  • Exclusive Products: Provide exclusive products or limited-edition releases to create a sense of exclusivity among your customer base.
  • Larger Quantities: Offer larger pack sizes, providing value to customers while helping with shipping costs.
  • Membership Model: Explore a membership model where customers subscribe and gain access to additional benefits such as voting on new products, community engagement, exclusive recipes, and more.
  • Personalization: Utilize customer data gathered through e-commerce to personalize the shopping experience. Implement post-purchase surveys to understand customer preferences and tailor future interactions accordingly.
  • Engagement Strategies: Develop post-purchase engagement strategies, such as branded order tracking via Wonderment, targeted emails, or special offers, to keep customers connected and interested in your brand.

In case you missed it, I joined the 3 Squares live podcast last Friday to talk about much of what I covered today: how CPG brands should think about leveraging their website and e-commerce. You can check out the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, or anywhere else you check out podcasts.


This post originally appeared in #59 of The E-Commerce Corner. Subscribe here.

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