The complementary nature of brick & mortar and ecommerce attracts NatureBox to more retail stores

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

The complementary nature of brick & mortar and ecommerce

Related tags Safeway inc.

At a time when many grocery retailers and food and beverage brands are increasing their ecommerce presence, snack maker NatureBox, which began as an online service, is expanding its distribution in brick and mortar stores, which the company CEO says favors discovery.

The company, which has a strong foothold online, in offices and with airlines, but a minimal presence in retail stores, announced Aug. 22 it will now offer its products in 220 Northern California Safeway stores and beginning Sept. 1 in hundreds of Sprouts.

This builds on the company’s initial foray into Target stores last year, which the company’s CEO Gautam Gupta told FoodNavigator-USA he has been “very happy with”​ regarding sales and velocity.

He added that while “the brick and mortar channel is relatively new for us,”​ the company is eager to continue expanding in physical stores “given that 98% of grocery food is purchased in store.”

With this in mind, he adds, “we think brick and mortar distribution can be a very sizeable business for NatureBox.”

But it isn’t just the size of the business done in retail stores that attracts Gupta to brick and mortar, it is the different function that it serves for consumers compared to ecommerce.

“What’s fascinating for us is how many customers are buying across online and offline. We think the retail stores is filling a different need for many of these customers versus what we do at,”​ he said.

For example, he explained, “We see a lot of our loyal customers buying in store as a ‘fill in.’ They’ve run out of the product at home or simply haven’t had time to place an order, but see the product on the shelf, which prompts them to purchase.”

In that way, he believes that the model for physical grocery stores “is changing towards discovery”​ with “a high focus on impulse and fresh,”​ which are shifts being driven by the consumer – not any one retailer.

He also notes that as ecommerce continues to emerge and brands and retailers straddle both the virtual and real world, they will need to work together across channels to maximize sales.

To this end, he says, NatureBox views its relationship with retailers as a partnership in which it brings its online capabilities and data to the table and is able to help retailers across both their store and .com properties.

For example, he notes, NatureBox’s ecommerce business is in “the unique position of leveraging our online data together with offline data to aid sales velocity and consumer insights. We can provide insights and merchandising recommendations down to the store level.”

He adds that the company is always finding new ways to leverage this data, such as the recent finding that consumers in suburbs and metro areas differ from consumers in rural areas.

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