A look at ways to optimise the website of the foodservice supplier

Posted by James Ferre on 21st December 2009

Consumer-oriented restaurant websites often grab the bulk of media attention, leaving business-to-business interaction as often the forgotten link. As a result, US-based foodservice consultants Technomic turned their attention to foodservice manufacturers’ sites, and asked their customers about their experience using them – finding several areas where there is typically room for improvement.

Manufacturers’ web sites are visited regularly by restaurant operators, distributor sales representatives and foodservice brokers, providing excellent opportunities to impact these customers’ impressions of doing business with a particular supplier. A food manufacturer’s site, if done well, was shown to positively influence decisions on integrating specific products into restaurant menus.

On the flip side, top complaints among manufacturers’ customers often centered on issues of inadequate or hard-to-find information. Among the major drawbacks frequently mentioned were:

Inadequate product information. “Suppliers can make life difficult if they don’t provide complete nutritional information, ingredients, cooking instructions and other important product details,” the Technomic research found.

Hard to find. “It can be extremely frustrating to know that a manufacturer carries a product that can’t be found on their site, either due to poor navigation or search capabilities.”

Lack of assistance. “Suppliers should make it easier to connect quickly with a sales associate or a customer service representative by providing complete contact information.”

“Some suppliers really stood out as having intuitive, user-friendly sites, but respondents noted that others are really missing the mark,” Melissa Wilson, Technomic Principal, advised. “The bottom line is that people are pressed for time and want a manufacturer’s website to make their job easier – and if it doesn’t, they are less likely to visit again.”

“Given the cost associated with building a site, it’s essential that suppliers really understand how they can meet their customers’ needs to get the best return on their website investment.”

The findings are part of a comprehensive research project on ‘Optimizing Your Website ROI’.