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For shoppers in the coronavirus era who would prefer to avoid grocery stores altogether or, if they must go, want to limit their time in the stores to reduce their risk of exposure to others, stopping to browse the snack aisles might not be high on the list of priorities. But consumers still love their salty and sweet indulgences. To ensure that they can get the products they love, safely and consistently, PepsiCo undertook a rapid, innovative rollout of two new ecommerce sites, PantryShop.com and Snacks.com, that make all its products readily available.

Although PepsiCo’s various brands are available on both sites, they take different assortment approaches, depending on consumers’ varying needs. Through the PantryShop.com site, PepsiCo offers carefully curated packages of multiple products (in both regular and larger family-sized versions). Thus, if a family wants to make sure it is well stocked with breakfast staples, it can order the “Rise & Shine” package and receive a delivery of Tropicana orange juice, Quaker oatmeal, and Life cereal. A “Workout & Recovery” kit instead offers Gatorade, Muscle Milk, and Propel water.

In contrast, on Snacks.com, consumers can put together their own basket, whether they like to have both Ruffles wavy and Lay’s plain potato chips on hand, or if they feel compelled to ensure that their pantries feature the full range of Dorito’s flavors. Snacks.com also promises access to some products that their local stores might not carry, such as regionally targeted flavors or versions that were in somewhat limited release.

For both sites, average delivery times are about two days. Whereas all shipping is free on PantryShop.com (for which the bundles establish a price floor), consumers must place orders of at least $15 to avoid shipping charges on Snacks.com.

Notably, both sides were designed, developed, and launched in just about 30 days. PepsiCo executives were anxious to address the new shopping trends created by the coronavirus pandemic and ensure that their consumers would maintain their easy access to the comforting snacks and drinks they prefer. However, that rapid development also meant that the ecommerce sites feature some limitations. In particular, not every product from every brand in the portfolio is available, such as bottled Starbucks beverages.

But PepsiCo promises more products will be added and describes these sites as just the first step in a continued effort to open direct-to-consumer channels. In particular, PepsiCo is carefully monitoring sales of both bundles on PantryShop.com and individual items on Snack.com, to see what people like and what else they might request. These insights in turn are likely to influence how the company designs displays in stores. For example, if it turns out that the same customer is purchasing “Workout & Recovery” bundles, then also adding lots of nuts to a Snacks.com order, the company might want to add more food-based protein sources to its bundles. It also might move cans of nuts to a display along with Propel water, to give exercise fans a hint about how they can purchase those items together for a healthy snack. In this sense, the ecommerce introduction is unique and timely, but it also reflects the company’s continued and consistent efforts to understand what consumers want, so it can get its offerings right.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Would you purchase products from either of PepsiCo’s new websites?
  2. More broadly, should consumer packaged goods firms that traditionally have sold through brick-and-mortar retail stores adopt more direct-to-consumer ecommerce strategies?
  3. How do PepsiCo’s two new websites differ, and is this distinction meaningful?

Source: Christopher Doering, “Why PepsiCo Launched 2 New Direct-to-Consumer Sites,” Marketing Dive, May 12, 2020; George Anderson, “PepsiCo Launches Direct-to-Consumer Sites for its Brands,” Retail Wire, May 12, 2020