November 21, 2009, 12:00 AM

Food / Drug

An informed shopper is a happy shopper

Food and health are two of life’s essentials. The Food and Drug online retailers in this year’s list of Hot 100 retail web sites not only deliver such necessities with speed and ease, they all spice up their offerings with a little extra as well.

Take Zabar’s, a New York City-based grocery store famous amid Upper West Side food connoisseurs as a shop offering impeccable quality and hard-to-find goods. The niche retailer’s e-commerce site also offers quality-in the form of food-related content. The retailer makes use of videos to help educate shoppers on what to look for in the gourmet cheese section and on how to brew a flawless cup of coffee. The site also offers recipes and links to resources such as the web sites of food critics. on the other hand, sweetens its site with up to 10 posts a week from as many as five internal bloggers who give shoppers a peek into the goings on at the e-retailer’s bakery., a retail site for those who savor fine chocolate, offers a richer shopping experience with its new web site, which hosts larger, more mouthwatering images than the prior version. And the redesigned site offers practical help, too. A new feature allows corporate customers to enter the number of people they’re buying for and their budget and get gift suggestions, and to personalize their gifts.

Whether it’s providing tips on how to sharpen knives of varying types, offering recipes for Halloween-themed brownies or tempting shoppers with hero shots of decadent desserts, the 2009 Hot 100 Food and Drug retailers each bring a little something extra to the e-commerce table.
Brownie points

A self-proclaimed seasonal web site, has ramped up its presence in social media in time for the holidays. The site’s Brownie Blog, launched last year primarily as a way to boost natural search rankings, quickly showed that many customers want to know what goes on behind the scenes at That led the retailer to create Facebook and Twitter pages that keep followers informed and promote contests, promotions and events. But the Brownie Blog remains a focus, with up to 10 posts a week from as many as five internal bloggers, says web designer Hilary Lee. The retailer’s YouTube page has replaced physical tours of the bakery, which are no longer offered. Fans can watch over 16 years worth of archived videos, including appearances on The Food Network and QVC.
Yummy comes alive

The newly redesigned that went live in October features, larger, more luscious-looking images. While previously the company’s iconic packaging got big play, the photos now highlight the chocolate, including peeks inside such treats as Ganache chocolate layer cakes. “We wanted to focus on the deliciousness of our products, on optimizing our photography and really communicating our chocolate credentials,” says Barbara Garces, senior manager of e-commerce and online marketing at Godiva Chocolatier Inc. Product pages feature tabbed information on shipping and, responding to customer requests, what’s inside each box. An area for corporate customers allows them to put in the number of people they’re buying for and their budget and get gift suggestions, and to personalize their gifts.
West Side story

Zabar’s and Company Inc. has a reputation among New Yorker foodies as a top-notch independent specialty grocer offering unique foods on the tony Upper West Side of Manhattan. And, for a small company with a niche offering,, the grocer’s e-commerce site, is surprisingly robust. The retailer makes use of rich media like videos to help educate shoppers on fine foods such as gourmet cheese and on how to brew the perfect cup of coffee. The retailer’s blog hosts recipes and links to resources such as food critic blogs and Zabar’s own YouTube channel. Product pages show availability, important information for perishable items. Additionally, the retailer uses its e-commerce site to promote in-store events such as cheese tastings, knife sharpening clinics and more.


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