8 Tips for Selling Food Products Online

If you’re interested in starting your own business, one of the most popular ways to do so nowadays is through online selling. From cosmetics to gadgets, from general merchandise to hyper-niche items, there’s definitely a lot of potential for growth and profits in e-commerce.

Obviously, you’re going to need to work hard and stay committed if you want your online selling business to succeed. However, for something that’s a little more foolproof, you might want to try the food category. Being a primary human need, food and food products will always find buyers. This is why some of the most profitable businesses in the country and all over the world are in this industry.

That said, starting even just a small-scale online food selling business takes a lot of hard work. If you truly want to pursue this line of career, here are some tips to help you get started and put you on-track to success:

Do Your Research Before You Decide

Yes, you can earn a lot from an online food selling business. However, you have to take note that the market is a highly competitive one; in your barangay alone, there may already be 10 or more online food sellers. There are also certain categories that are more saturated than others.

To minimize risks, make sure to do your research first and weigh the pros and cons before you make a decision. Some of the things you need to study include but are not limited to:

  • what name to call your business
  • which food products require more regulations (e.g., liquor)
  • which food products are easier to ship
  • which categories have the most competitors
  • your potential competitors
  • your potential customers
  • your potential business partners (e.g., suppliers)

What comes out of your research will also be valuable material when you write your business plan. This is a document that contains your goals, as well as your methods and timeframe for accomplishing these goals.

Figure Out Your Expenses

You can’t launch a business without spending money. For a small online food selling enterprise, your primary expenses will be the ingredients, preparation and cooking equipment, packaging, and delivery services. Some of these you may already have at home, such as a set of knives, cooking utensils, pots and pans, a stove, and the like. The rest, you may still need to purchase.

If you find yourself a bit short on budget, you can find a quick-approve loan online for your initial business expenses. What’s great about this type of loan is that the amount is usually smaller than bank loans, so the payment terms are much more manageable. It’s also good “practice” in handling loans and other financial obligations as a business, not to mention a great way to build a healthy credit score. The latter is important if you want to secure bigger loans in the future to expand your business. 

There’s Merit in Easy-to-Produce Food or Reselling

If you’re a first-time food entrepreneur, consider easy-to-produce food products that don’t require too many ingredients and are also easier to ship. Some examples include homemade candies, coffee beans, bottled or dried food, and even baking ingredients. For an even easier option, you can try reselling products from wholesalers.

Find Reliable Suppliers

As mentioned, one of your primary expenses as an online food seller will be the ingredients. You don’t have to find wholesale suppliers right away, though, especially if you’re starting small. Instead, you can go to membership supermarkets, warehouse clubs, and specialty stores. Once you start scaling up, you can strike partnerships with larger suppliers.

For products like coffee beans, muscovado sugar, rice, and similar agricultural products, consider working with local farmers directly. This way, you’re also helping their business grow.

Other things you need to find suppliers for will include your packaging materials and labels. For the latter, you can try printing them yourself and then write up the printer, sticker paper, and other supplies as a business expense. However, sourcing labels from small-scale printing businesses may be more efficient in terms of effort.

Finally, don’t be afraid to explore new partnerships. If you find a better supplier than your current one, make the shift. Just don’t burn bridges! Remember that it’s important to build a healthy network when you’re in business.

Take Note of Health and Safety Regulations

Because you’re going to be selling a product that people will consume, you need to make sure that you’re abiding by health and safety regulations. While you won’t be subjected to the same kind of standards as a restaurant, you still have to make sure that what you’re selling is clean and safe to eat.

It’s also best to register your business and file for business permits. This can help boost your credibility among customers, which in turn can boost sales.

You should also provide all the necessary information on your labels. Aside from nutrition information and the expiry or best-before date, include all the ingredients you used. This way, those who have allergies and food sensitivities can make the proper purchase decisions.

It’s also important to describe critical parts of your preparation process. For example, do you only have one kitchen and limited tools? This might result in traces of certain foods—say, bits of peanut powder—making their way to other products. Some people are extremely allergic to peanuts, so even trace amounts of peanut powder can trigger a life-threatening reaction. By being transparent with the details, you can avoid potentially dangerous situations.

If the information can’t fit on the food label, provide a URL or a QR code that redirects to a page that contains the complete details on your social media profile or website.

Consider Getting Your Own Website

Speaking of websites, while you’re still starting out, you can host your online food selling business on social media sites or online marketplaces. As time goes by and your business continues to grow, however, consider getting your own website. This will allow you to have more control over your branding and overall customer experience.

Having your own website also gives you access to more in-depth data about your customers, such as their buying habits and preferences. With proper analysis, you can derive insights that you can in turn use to improve your processes and expand your offerings.

Think About How to Promote Your Business

To ensure the success of your online selling business, you need to promote it effectively. There are many ways you can go about this, but some of the most common ones include:

    • Word of mouth. Ask for help from your friends and family to let their circles know about your business.
    • Social media. You can use your social media accounts to post content about your business. As much as possible, use the same name across all platforms. Take note of the best practices in posting content, and make sure to study the insights provided on your page dashboard so you can make more effective posts. You should consider various content formats, like 3D images, short-form videos, and GIFs.
    • Digital display ads. You may not have enough of an advertising budget at the beginning, but make sure to consider this option for future campaigns. One of the most popular options here is pay-per-click, which means you only pay the corresponding fees when someone clicks on your display ads.
    • SEO. If you have your own website, you should definitely invest in search engine optimization. If your website comes out on the first page of search engine result pages or SERPs, it can potentially bring more customers to your website. One way to improve your SERP rankings is to regularly write blogs and improve the site’s loading speed.


  • Attending events. Your business may be primarily online, but it also pays to attend in-person events from time to time. Look for trade fairs, cooking conferences, and other similar events where you can showcase your products and let people know about your business.
  • Flyers. A simple way to promote your business is to include flyers with every order. You can even print a promo code for a small discount on the flyer, which can help you gauge the effectiveness of this advertising method. 


Price Accordingly

One of the most challenging parts of running any business is pricing your products. When it comes to food, it’s best to consider the cost of your ingredients, equipment, and packaging. Then, calculate for about a 10% profit to arrive at a price. However, it may be wise to go for a lower profit first and focus on getting your business known. Then, you can adjust prices in the future.

That said, you should also know the value of your product. Even if you’re a newbie, don’t undervalue what you’re able to provide. Take a look at relevant numbers (e.g., inflation, the cost of ingredients), as well as your competitors’ prices so you can work out a reasonable price tag.

It’s challenging yet fulfilling to run your own online food selling business. Hopefully, these tips can help make the scales tip more towards the latter. Good luck!