Online Buying Increasingly Valuable to Foodservice Operators, Finds New Report

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.  —Marlin Network, a national foodservice marketing and consulting agency representing dozens of category-leading brands, has released a new study exploring changes in the foodservice operator purchase journey. It includes insights gathered from Marlin Network’s Operator Vantage, a panel of more than 800 commercial and non-commercial foodservice operators.

The 2019 Influencing the Operator Purchase white paper reveals what matters to these modern foodservice operators, and provides solutions for how suppliers can effectively reach, influence and convert buyers. Within the white paper, readers learn:

  • How operators search for new products and why these avenues are increasingly important to suppliers’ businesses. 
  • How operators are influenced through each stage of the buying journey – awareness, consideration, decision and post-purchase.
  • How to effectively reach, influence and convert modern operators to purchase suppliers’ product by adopting a few simple strategies and ideas. 

“If you think food-away-from-home marketing isn’t what it used to be, you’re absolutely right,” says Christopher Wolf, senior vice president of Insights for Marlin Network. “Changes like digital technology, mixed with macro-forces like the rise of convenience, value, personalization, experience and wellness are changing the way foodservice operators buy.”

While many traditional purchase paths and gatekeepers remain the same, there is a shift in operator preferences toward convenience, simplicity and accessibility.

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • 55 percent of operators say ordering online is highly valuable.
  • One-fifth of operators start their purchase journey with an online search.
  • 94 percent of operators want to see pricing before requesting a sample. 

To get to know what matters most to the modern operator download the 2019 Influencing the Operator Purchase white paper for free at

About Marlin Network

Marlin Network is a group of foodservice marketing agencies on a mission to engage consumers in better experiences away from home. For more than 30 years, we’ve partnered with category-leading brands to help bring winning solutions to their customers. Marlin Network includes the Marlin CompanyThe Alchemedia Project and CSSI Culinary Marketing. For additional information, visit

About Operator Vantage

Operator Vantage is Marlin Network’s proprietary panel and research system engaging foodservice professionals across all major commercial and non-commercial segments to deliver operator insights close to the point of commerce. For additional information, visit