Sol embraces Destini in an ecommerce bid

Amid growth in brick-and-mortar, the brand seeks to expand into white space where plant-based is under-represented.

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Sol Cuisine has taken a leading position in the plant-based space with strong sales growth and rapid expansion into new banners, and now, it is also expanding its reach into ecommerce.

The digital space is an important frontier for CPG brands that have traditionally relied on strong retail presences. According to recent data from BrandSpark, e-commerce growth has been slowing but it is still trending upward – and grocery buyers are more willing to pay a premium than shoppers in any other category.

“What we saw during the pandemic is a lot more consumers have moved to e-commerce as the way they want to shop,” says Ken Cross, CMO at Sol Cuisine. “For the large percentage of consumers who are now interested in consuming plant-based, we wanted to provide options, because there isn’t a broad range of products available to them if they want to purchase online. We wanted to give consumers a breadth of opportunity that isn’t there now.”

While many brands in the plant-based space have opted to pursue their own DTC solutions, Sol has instead adopted Destini Global’s premium ecommerce platform, which provides expanded product information and greater integration with existing retail partners.

“We’ve opted to build incrementally on our current success with our partners, and we’ll continue to work with them to promote this as an alternative for consumers moving forward,” explains Cross.

IMG_0935Through Sol’s updated website, consumers can shop its line of products and then seamlessly move through to a distribution partner’s online shopping portal. In Canada, that includes Sobeys’ Voila, Loblaws, Instacart, Real Canadian Superstore, Safeway, Save On Foods, Maxi and Cornershop; meanwhile, in the U.S., solcuisine.com links consumers to Instacart, Cornershop and Vejii.

Though Sol is committed to expanding choice for consumers that prefer to shop online, it sees this as an additive element to its existing brick-and-mortar retail strategy, where it has already been winning. The brand recently expanded into Metro, where it has seen “good success” according to Cross, and is about to launch some SKUs into Walmart.

“We’re going to keep investing, and in fact are increasing our investment this year, in traditional point-of-sale materials,” says Cross. “We’re certainly not pivoting away from the physical retail environment, because that’s still where consumers are doing most of their grocery shopping. In fact, you’re going to see a lot more from us in those physical spaces.”

That investment in expansion is a big bet for Sol, but it’s not one made lightly. According to the brand’s consumer research, Cross says, an increasing cross-section of consumers now see the nutritional and sustainability benefits of plant-based eating.

“We asked when people had entered into plant-based and why to understand the mindset and we’ve seen that a large percentage of them have entered the category in just the past two years,” he says. “It’s a growing group, and it isn’t because of fads – it’s those fundamental nutrition and sustainability reasons.”

Though the category is seeing strong growth and Sol is a key driver within the space, Cross says, there is still one pressing challenge for all plant-based brands.

“If you take a look at even the best-distributed SKUs in the category, you’re still only reaching between 60% and 70% of all commodity volumes. I think you’re going to see an interesting challenge around distribution and how to get the plant-based category into grocery stores that represent 100% of the consumption,” he explains.