By Tiffany Bailey and Ida Vandamme
There is no denying that the demand for organic food is on the rise. Fueled by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, consumers are showing a rapidly increasing willingness to purchase food online. There is also a recent trend in consumers seeking local and healthy food options. All these factors create a time when local and organic farms have a greater opportunity than ever before to gain new customers through online sales.
BENEFITS OF INTERNET BUSINESS
There are many advantages that come with selling your products online.
Unlike a retail store or farmer’s market, selling your products online means that your customers can buy from your farm any time, creating a win-win situation for both the farmer and the consumer. Not only can customers buy from you any time, with an online store you are now available to sell to them any time, too!
Increased Market Reach
Creating an online store allows consumers from near and far to seek out specifically what they are looking for. This is a huge benefit to farms in general but is especially beneficial to an organic farm with niche-type products.
Time and Labor Savings
When a farm sells its products online, there is no longer the need to invest the labor and time into having someone physically present. With labor costs on the rise, this is a huge advantage compared to other selling methods such as a farmer’s market or retail store.
Due to the rise in online sales, many great companies have created user-friendly platforms that are easier to use than ever before.
Before you dive into the world of online sales, follow these tips on how to drive success.
Pick a Platform With Proven Performance
As mentioned above, there is an overwhelming number of options to choose from when searching for a platform to set up online sales. Many of these platforms are widely used, but they are not specific to farming. That can be okay, but make sure the platform you use can do what you want it to do. If you want to sell subscriptions, make sure that is offered.
Also, be sure to investigate the type of support that is offered. If you are like most farmers, your top skills are likely geared toward growing food, so you may need support with navigating the moving parts of online sales. Make sure the platform you use offers responsive support staff who can help fix issues quickly. If your site has problems, you could be losing potential sales, so you need a company that can react in a timely manner.
It is also very important to check into integration capabilities. Do you need your online store to integrate with Quickbooks? Do you need the store to integrate with the web host you are using? These types of questions should be answered before making a final decision on which platform to use.
Make Sure it Is Easy to Buy
Consumers are becoming less tolerant of websites not functioning properly. If things are not working smoothly, people will quickly leave. Even if you are organic and there are not many competitive products available, your farm has little room for error here.
A good practice to implement is to have new customers make a purchase online while you are on the phone or Zoom with them. If you designed the site, it may be easy for you to navigate, but an outside source can help you find out what’s working well and what’s not. Use this priceless feedback to eliminate as much friction as possible.
Don’t Set It and Forget It
We all know farmers are busy! It can be so hard to sit in front of a computer when there is so much work to do. But a website that doesn’t work generates no revenue. Make it a routine to check on your site on a regular basis. Your customers and your bank account will appreciate your efforts!
Tiffany Bailey is owner and Ida Vandamme is farm manager at Honeyside Farms in Parrish, Florida.
Share this Post