December 4, 2013, 12:41 PM


Online retail sites in the best of taste.

Lead Photo

Selling food and drugs online requires retailers to help consumers satisfy their appetites for good food and good health. Shop the eight food and drug sites in this year's Hot 100, and it's apparent that they've each found that by offering unique content, features or functions, they can engage consumers with an online shopping experience that is both easy to use and informative.

The Hot 100 winners in the category are a diverse group. They range from specialty retailers of tea and mixed drinks to major grocery and drug store chains in Brazil, the United Kingdom and the United States. And they face tough competition, as the food and drug category includes 23 retailers in the Internet Retailer 2013 Top 500 Guide and 19 in the 2013 Second 500 Guide—the two volumes that rank online retailers in North America—as well as 18 in the 2013 Europe 500, 21 in the 2013 Latin America 400 and 18 in the 2013 Asia 500.

The group's scope extends to hot trends like sales of gluten-free products on the sleek, simple-to-shop and to the King Arthur Flour Co.'s social media marketing savviness., which is ranked No. 6 in the Internet Retailer 2013 Social Media 300 for its ability to attract 14% of its web traffic from social networks, saw its web sales more than double in 2012, as it moved up to No. 359 from No. 468 in the Top 500 Guide.

In the United Kingdom, leading grocery chain Tesco PLC is No. 5 in the Europe 500, thanks in part to it offering an e-commerce site and mobile app that provide helpful advice, such as how to prepare nutritional meals, including suggestions about what ingredients a shopper should add to her cart.

Meanwhile, caters to the needs of Brazilian food shoppers by engaging with shoppers across social networks and via its on-site blog. Those interactions have helped its online sales reach $1.22 billion, which places it No. 2 in the Latin America 400.

In the United States, offers interactive online shopping features, such as its Drug Information Center that lets shoppers check potential drug interactions. That sort of content has helped CVS Caremark Corp. maintain a position among the top 100 online retailers in North America, at No. 95 in the Top 500 Guide.

The merchants in this Hot 100 group also know how to play to shoppers' senses via imaging and interactive features. Browse the Starbucks Corp.-owned and you can almost smell and taste the tea; the same with the coffee beans on And for anyone who has ever wanted to master the art of mixing drinks, there's nothing like the demonstration videos on cocktails supplies site

With the range of online shopping features these Hot 100 retailers provide, they're likely to be hot destinations for years to come.

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