E-Commerce and Snacks: Who’s Buying?

With their long shelf life, ease of shipping and relatively inexpensive prices, snacks are purchased more frequently on the internet. Considering the ease of access, it is not at all difficult to understand why the candy and snack industry is the largest sector of the e-commerce market. From “ready-to-eat” meal replacements, to daily indulgence foods, consumers have turned away from brick and mortar stores. Many online shoppers begin with well-known retailers such as WalMart, Target and Amazon Pantry. The growth of online snack purchases is a major shift for the food industry. As the percentages of people buying online increases, retailers must focus more on their online presence.The growth of online snack purchases is a major shift for the food industry. As the percentages of people buying online increases, retailers must focus more on their online presence.

Who’s Buying Snacks Online?

The snack market, along with most grocery items, has primarily been in brick and mortar stores. When it comes to most grocery food items, such as perishables like fresh meats and vegetables, shoppers tend to be a little wary. Consumers prefer seeing their food prior to purchasing, and that ability simply does not exist in online shopping. However, the is not the case when it comes to snacks. Their portability and have a long shelf-life makes them perfect for purchasing in bulk. Amazon has seen a growth in sales for healthy snack foods such as dried fruits, dried meats and snack bars. This health consciousness is particularly prevalent among the growing population of younger.

According to reports, 20% of consumers, who happen to be the millennial generation, purchase these snacks online.

The millennial market is most dominant in the online snack food industry due to their increased digital presence. With many of them taking advantage of app-based reward programs for their food consumption, it is no wonder that this demographic would look to the internet to buy snacks as well. Reports statethat their buying power over the years will increase by 70% and are most focused on organic and healthy foods. With more frequent snacking from this group, there obviously comes more purchases. Millennial shoppers are also concerned with the cost, which makes e-commerce a more attractive alternative. While most consumers would purchase a single chocolate bar or bag of potato chips in a physical store, that’s not the go to option when shopping online. This makes it important for retailers to focus more closely on their online presence. Having the option of buying items is bulk seems to be the popular choice.


The most obvious option for majority of online snack shopping is Amazon. However, due to the aforementioned wariness in concern to fresh foods, the online retailer has experienced some pitfalls. Amazon’s overall performance in the grocery market has been fairly unremarkable, with Amazon Pantry finding it difficult to competewith brick and mortar stores, Target and Walmart. However, after purchasing Whole Foods, that might have changed, and definitely would bring in the millennial market seeking out organic snacks.

Target has made improvements to their online presence. Sales have increased, according to reports, due to a move emulating Walmart’s two day shipping deal on purchases of $35 and over. Another major move by Target was the acquisition of the e-commerce service Shipt, which will make it easier for same day deliveries on groceries and other goods. This was in direct competition with the acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon.

Similarly, Walmart has made moves to keep up with the competition. As the third largest online retailer in sales behind Amazon and Apple, its acquisition of Jet.com has made sales soar. It’s online inventory has also increased from 10 million to at least 67 million as well as expanding its grocery service. Considering that the largest hurdle in the online snack industry is to maintain stock, Walmart is clearly looking to keep its customers happy and satisfied.

Smaller retailers, like Fresh Direct, Graze, Thrive Market, and others may benefit from the increase in online snack sales. As smaller companies, they can directly connect with consumers, giving them a personal touch. However, they also have quite the challenge against Amazon’s Whole Foods deal.

Get Ready to Sell your Snacks Online

Collected data states that the snack food industry is only going to grow further online. With sales increasing across all channels, particularly that in the health food sector, it is important to have an online presence. The group to especially be aware of are the millennials who will do the most food shopping online. The best way to promote further snack purchases is to draw in the consumer. This is a different task compared to brick and mortar stores. There, impulse buys contribute to overall snack sales. Better deals can shift the market online.

Not everything is in the positive for selling online. Retailers are having a difficult time keeping stock on all orders. Not only that, but shipping may cause certain snacks to become damaged during transportation. The competition is fierce between big store chains, as well as Amazon’s domination of the online sphere. Smaller retailers have a chance at taking on the larger outlets due to their singular focus on snacking, as well as a closer connection with consumers.

With online sales of snack foods soaring, its necessary to focus on the health and wellness trend. As millennials grow older, so does their purchasing power. This upward trend doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Snack purchases are the largest percentage of all online grocery sales. Therefore, retailers must take their e-commerce presence seriously. That means catering toward the millennial market, and keeping stocks up for large bulk orders. It’s also a note that there are snacks online that would not be found in a physical store giving leverage to online retailers. Whether searching for healthy or indulgent snacks, the most important thing is that they are easily accessible.

Sharon Shichor is the CEO of Eighteen Knowledge Group LLC, your solution and knowledge base for brand building and getting your products and services in the hands of consumers.

Want to learn more about Marketing solutions and trends? Visit our company page and blog for more on the subjects that affect your company’s daily operations the most!

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