Learning About Food and Cooking

3 Tips for Turning Your Meat Market Into an Online Business

Meat markets or butcher shops can be scarce in many communities, making it ideal to offer your products online for people across the country. Since shipping meat and seafood can be difficult, there are a few strategies you can use so customers can enjoy the freshest products.

Think About Your Competition

Doing a quick Google search can help you determine the types of businesses that are your competition and ways you can attract customers. Meat markets that sell online often specialize in premium cuts and/or expensive seafood. Although you may choose to offer these options, it is important to attract a slightly different market. Many customers who have a local meat market have the goal of filling their freezers on a budget, so it is important to offer larger packages of meat for a reasonable price. Some items that are especially appealing to the budget shopper include ground meats, hot dogs, sausages, roasts, chops, and chicken quarters. These items can feed large families and are often less expensive than other cuts of meat.

Try to formulate packages of budget items in several different price ranges. For example, you may advertise at least three different bundles at $100, $200, and $300 price points. Another way you can attract more business is to consider what other online businesses mostly sell. Many have more beef and less pork or poultry items. Try to have a good mix of items readily available to appeal to different dietary needs. Customers who enjoy grilling, especially during the summer months and around holidays, will likely want meats that are ideal for large gatherings. Make sure your summer offerings include budget-friendly packages for grilling.

Consider Order Preparation

Think about how long it will take for you to reasonably prepare orders for customers so they have accurate expectations regarding shipping and transit times. Since many meat markets require customers to order one to two days in advance when picking up their order, you may need an extra day when shipping food. You will also need to consider whether you want to ship items fresh or frozen, since there are benefits and pitfalls to both. When customers pick-up their orders they are usually fresh and simply refrigerated. Shipping food fresh can be more difficult, especially at certain times of year.

The best way to attempt shipping fresh food is to have an insulated foam container packed with dry ice to keep items as cool as possible. For an added layer of protection, insert the entire container into a plastic bag with another layer of dry ice before putting it in the shipping container. As an alternative you may want to provide the option of having fresh products frozen before shipping, which may add an extra day to the preparation time, but could prevent meat from spoiling, especially in the summer. You should also include a small, inexpensive thermometer inside the package so customers can know whether the package arrived at a safe temperature.

Select the Appropriate Shipping Method

The shipping methods you make available may vary depending on the time of year. You might choose to only ship your products overnight. This will limit the days you can ship products, but it will be less likely any customer will receive food that has spoiled. Some companies that ship fresh or frozen food give customers the option to select two-day shipping, but only at certain times of the year.

Since it is impossible for you to keep track of the climate in different parts of the country, remind customers that, if they choose two-day shipping during the cooler months and their area is unusually warm for that time of year, you do not assume liability if the food arrives and is no longer safe to eat. You should also encourage customers to purchase any insurance available from the carrier, which could protect them if there are shipping problems or delays that prevent their package from arriving at a safe temperature.

Offering online ordering for meat and seafood can be difficult when you are deciding the best way to package and ship products. However, you may find the effort is worth it when you can expand your business to people who live in areas where high-quality meat or bulk items are not readily available.