3 eCommerce Pricing Strategies for Foodservice Distributors

By Zilliant

Apr 26, 2023

As the foodservice distribution industry shifts toward eCommerce, ensuring market-and-strategy-aligned prices on eCommerce channels is critical. Read this blog post to discover three pricing strategies distributors can leverage to power intelligent digital selling and use eCommerce as a competitive advantage.

The Foodservice Distribution Industry is Slowly Embracing eCommerce

“In the food distribution industry, 80% of payments are done by mailing paper checks, and 80% of orders are made by leaving voicemails,” according to PYMNTS.com.

The foodservice distribution industry is one that prides itself on relationships and thus digital hasn’t been a high priority. It’s now apparent that digital commerce can be adopted thoughtfully to support the sales relationships forged in the field. W hen leading distributors make the leap into digital commerce or a new tool is created, it’s viewed as a game changer.

For example, at the end of 2022, US Foods launched a comprehensive eCommerce application, which is essentially a one-stop shop for customers to browse their catalog, make orders, and even track deliveries. Additionally, the eCommerce platform Pepper was built to “enable food distributors to find new customers, deepen relationships, grow revenue, and run more efficiently,” and secured more than $16 million in funding at the end of 2021.

As foodservice distribution makes greater shifts toward digital selling, ensuring market-and-strategy-aligned prices on eCommerce channels is critical. In this blog, we’ll detail three pricing strategies distributors can leverage to power intelligent digital selling and use eCommerce as a competitive advantage.

Activate Digital Commerce Data

Online customer interaction data is extremely valuable and presents pricing teams with opportunities to capitalize. It can be used to better inform pricing strategies and deliver eCommerce personalized pricing. Some of these data points and subsequent considerations include:

Cart abandonment: Incorporate an eCommerce-specific discount or other promotion to motivate completion of a transaction in the online cart or trigger a follow-up action for sales. Pageviews: For pages with many views and a high bounce rate, does the price need to be better aligned to expectations? Conversions: What are your hot spots, and is conversion aligning to that attention? Inventory availability: Can a targeted discounting strategy help move inventory?

Each of these data points can be used to set multiple pricing strategies online. Additionally, B2B companies must be able to dynamically adjust prices based on data insights in real-time.

With the help of price optimization and management software, it’s possible to deploy a number of advanced pricing strategies online, including:

Differentiating pricing for existing customers and new visitors at the product or SKU level. Setting eCommerce-specific discounts that can be personalized (or targeted) to customer segments and product groups. Offering customer-specific agreement prices and dynamic tiered pricing for quantity breaks.

Intelligence must be embedded into eCommerce sites and coupled with a flexible price management tool in the background that can enable teams to flexibly make price adjustments as needed. For example, high inventory and pageviews with low conversion might indicate the price is too high compared to online competitors. A targeted discount can be set in Zilliant Price Manager™ and updated instantaneously in your eCommerce site with the Zilliant Real-Time Pricing Engine™.

Ensure Pricing Consistency Across All Channels

Operators interact with their vendors over multiple channels and may even conduct a single transaction over more than one sales channel. With that said, how do you prevent your sales reps from quoting a price that is at odds with what your customer saw on your web site, and vice versa?

For B2B companies that have entered the digital age incrementally, eCommerce prices are updated independently of the rest of the business. In an omnichannel world, this process becomes untenable.

Pricing teams need a centralized application from which to make price changes that are then fed to all channels uniformly and in real-time. The combination of a cloud-native price management application like Price Manager™ and our Real-Time Pricing Engine™ is the only way to achieve this feat while ensuring your prices remain market-aligned.

Companies can set and update pricing strategies in Price Manager™, while the Real-Time Pricing Engine™ connects in real-time to ensure that eCommerce pricing is relevant, market-aligned and consistent with CPQ, CRM, or any other commercial system.

Leverage the Power of Intelligent Automated Negotiation

Foodservice distributors can take the concept of B2B eCommerce pricing to the next level by automating negotiation processes through a digital customer portal. The traditional process of requesting a discount from a sales rep, and that rep going back to get approval or counter-negotiation guidance is extremely high-touch. It’s time-consuming for the seller and inconvenient for the buyer. Customers now prefer self-service wherever possible.

Thus, automating pricing and negotiation is a competitive differentiator – if you don’t offer it, your buyers will find someone who does. This automated process streamlines the negotiation step through dynamic pricing software and a real-time pricing engine. The ability to do this at scale changes the equation for pricing teams. It’s possible to remove human review from a significant amount of quotes, accelerating quote turnaround times and allowing teams to spend more time on bigger, strategic deals. Creating a responsive experience for customers on digital platforms, in which you don’t lose the ability to negotiate, converse and counteroffer, also accelerates customer satisfaction.

The Zilliant Real-Time Pricing Engine™ can automate negotiations, counteroffers, and approvals based on pre-defined parameters. By auto-approving prices without human intervention, DSRs, partner resellers, and customers are given the flexibility to negotiate within a range of prices that still maintains necessary margin levels and escalates customer counter-negotiations quickly and efficiently when needed.


“eCommerce in distribution has evolved from its initial phase of merely existing as an additional channel for customers to place orders, to a source of differentiation for distributors in how they craft the buying experience,” states Modern Distribution Management.

As the shift to digital selling becomes more apparent in foodservice distribution, companies need to use eCommerce pricing as a competitive advantage. By leveraging the strategies above coupled with leading price optimization and price management solutions, distributors can transform their eCommerce channels into their biggest profit centers.

Contact Zilliant today to learn how we can help you enable a successful B2B eCommerce pricing strategy.

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