Retailtainment, ecommerce, exports – trends in the food industry


This year’s Fine Foods International Ltd Expo in Melbourne was a brilliant opportunity to taste test some emerging trends in agriculture, food production and retailing, and food service. It also presented some opportunities to consider global trends in ecommerce and export. Here were my top “take-aways”:

Retailtainment is going to get very exciting

The idea that shopping experiences would become more immersive has been around for a while. The term Retailtainment was first used in 1999 by George Ritzer in his book “Enchanting a Disenchanted World: Revolutionizing the Means of Consumption”. Ritzer used the term to describe "use of ambience, emotion, sound and activity to get customers interested in the merchandise and in a mood to buy." With an explosion of disruptive technologies, immersive shopping is moving to a whole new level.

Here are some of the ideas retailers are exploring:

  • Biometric data used for purchases and customisation. From facial recognition to process payment, to having your face 3D printed in milk on your latte.

  • Full disclosure trend. Consumers are increasingly expecting increased product disclosure and will expect to be able to scan products to instantly determine ingredients, provenance and sustainability.

  • Seamless purchases. Use of inbuilt sensors and computer vision to automatically complete purchase for items collected in store and skip the sale transaction.

  • Pop up museums. Pop up shops to provide shoppers with an immersive experience of your brand. Learn where your product comes from, its history and origins, and explore your vision of the future.

  • In store navigation. Use voice or search functions in apps for guidance to product locations in store.


Ecommerce is evolving around social media trends.

  • Key Opinion Leaders. Purchases are influenced by the endorsements of Key Opinion Leaders. These include traditional celebrities, industry specialists such as celebrity chefs, and social media personalities - bloggers, vloggers and the like. Cost of paid endorsements will vary according to the size of the social media following, and this can be a very effective way to spend marketing $.

  • Flash Sales. Sudden markdowns in the form of flash sales are a particularly important marketing tactic used in China, to demonstrate value.

  • Video in platform marketing. Increasing use of live streaming and video marketing content with a corresponding increase in conversions.

  • Insights and targeted advertising. While this isn’t new, it’s growing increasingly sophisticated and integrated. It’s all about using the right data. The retailers that will reap the benefit here will see the opportunities in partnerships and supply chain to hook in to data driven sales. For example, customers may choose to have their fridges monitor their stock and provide automated delivery of replacement items.

  • Social Media integration. In China, for example, WeChat is an influential social media platform with integrated marketing and ecommerce functionality.


Export systems are growing in a sophisticated way to meet more demanding consumer expectations while ensuring supply chains are safe.


With thanks to FIAL for a fantastic event, and a special thanks to the following workshop presenters for sharing their insights: AusTrade & Food Innovation Australia Ltd AusTrade,, Mintel, Australian Trade Commission, Watermark, China Sales Co., EFIC, Export Council of Australia, Department of Home Affairs, Australian Made, YPB Systems, and Export Solutions.

What are the trends you have seen emerging in retail, ecommerce and export?