KANSAS CITY, MO — In her Feb. 16 American Society of BakingTECH breakout presentation, Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive VP and practice leader, client insights for IRI, painted a positive outlook and great potential regarding the future of ecommerce.

Comparing what happened in March and April 2020 when consumers took to using ecommerce at never-before-used levels, much progress has been made in the area of ecommerce, but opportunities for brands, manufacturers and retailers still exist.

The establishment of different buying patterns came as a result of mandatory lockdowns and a variety of restrictions. This prompted many consumers to get in touch with their inner chef as they weathered the ups and downs of stocking up in the midst of rampant out-of-stock items.


With 81% of meals prepared at home, consumers sought to fill looming meal occasions with more options to please various household members throughout the day. This included consideration for school-age children at home (55%), those working from home or from an alternative location (53%) and the two-thirds of college students living at home.

As situations evolve, Lyons Wyatt predicted consumers will choose different paths. Some will continue their at-home cooking skills while others dealing with meal planning fatigue will begin to visit restaurants. These changes will create new demand with opportunity for innovation in all areas.

“Partner to provide good messaging and navigation for ecommerce by adding product data and information and providing the right targeting and message.”


With a number of different possible paths, decisions made regarding the acceleration of online purchasing and brick-and-mortar will be important moving forward, according to Lyons Wyatt. While the growth of ecommerce is predicted to remain strong in 2021 with 120% in the path ahead, it’s important to remember not all consumer online experiences were positive early on.

This was in part due to retailers lacking the right infrastructure, insufficient distribution centers and the inability for consumers to find the items they needed online. Although improvement in the space continues, Lyons Wyatt recommended getting the right infrastructure in place now.

Alignment of ecommerce initiatives should include considerations for the product attributes consumers search for online. On average, only 14 of the top 25 product attributes searched for online showed up on retailer websites. Across the top 25 most prevalent attributes, retailers failed to return 53% of qualifying products.


This leaves a tremendous gap for the growing number of consumers who use food to align with special diets. Such designations are important as consumers shopping online have less access to front- and back-of-packaging claims and a product’s nutrition facts panel.

Staking claims for vegan, diabetes support, obesity support, hypertension and other high-risk areas can help align health-seeking consumers with foods offering the attributes and benefits they are searching for. Lyons Wyatt encouraged better alignment through working closely with manufacturers and retailers to pair items with functional benefits.

“Now is the time to deepen connections with consumers,” Lyons Wyatt said. “Target and talk to them about your new products and your sustainability practices. Partner to provide good messaging and navigation for ecommerce by adding product data and information and providing the right targeting and message.”

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