The percentage of street food operators purchasing goods online has dramatically increased in the past four years, with more than 40% saying they use third-party e-sourcing at least once a month.
New figures from research firm Technomic – which are specific to the US market but provide a useful barometer of sales behaviour for UK suppliers – show that catering supplies, disposables, specialty foods and shelf-stable foods represent much of what is purchased online.
Its studies found that due to new purchasing expectations from the younger tech-savvy generation, distributors are evolving and investing in developing user-friendly online ordering platforms and apps to mirror Amazon’s interface.
However, third party providers will never become the primary source for operators unless they can compete beyond price and offer many of the unique benefits associated with distributors.
“Our research suggests that street restaurant operators are bullish on the future of third-party e-sourcing,” said Joe Pawlak, managing principal at Technomic. “Today, operators are most inclined to purchase products in the nonfoods and shelf-stable space but are reluctant to source frozen and perishables from 3ES. However, they can envision a giant like Amazon developing a solution to make operators comfortable purchasing these products online.”
Some distributors report that operators are using 3ES for price checking, finding lower prices on Amazon and trying to negotiate price on this basis, the report showed.