Project Review: the Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative

 

mfscscreenClient: Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative (MFSC)

Site: MaineFarmAndSea.coop

Projects: NationBuilder.com Discovery, Website Setup & Development; E-commerce Setup & Integration; Content Development & Implementation; Video Direction & Implementation; Media Production; Campaign Strategy & Development; Website Architecture

 

Welcome to the nation’s first cooperative institutional dining service.  Which, is the first time ever to challenge the 3 global providers of such services.  If they win the USM contract, they will be expanding the local economy in a way never seen before.  Internet Farmer has worked with these people for years and it was a pleasure to engage in a campaign to change Maine’s economy.

At first, we had to develop a lot of content quickly for the launch of the service at the release of the USM Request for Proposal.  In about 6 weeks Jonah put together a marketing team and we developed website content and ideas for how to run a campaign online.  We also wrote a video script and shot the video to tell the story of MFSC.  It was a busy 6 weeks.

Once the content was developed for the website we dove in to NationBuilder.com.  This is a site building tool, but also a CRM software, e-commerce mechanism and campaign management.  Internet Farmer was impressed at how it all worked.  It was easy to get payments going, setup a template for a nice looking website, totally connected to social media, and you could see the world was at your fingertips as we added information to the system.

This is Obama-level campaign software, a game changer in fundraising and community building.  And it’s available to anyone for as low as $30/mo.  A great tool if you want to build a world around you and have it be organized and manageable.  It was such a good experience Internet Farmer is becoming a NationBuilder.com developer to further our work in food justice.

After launching we’ve seen the CRM work really well.  It automatically tags people based on being a member, a non-paying supporter, volunteer, etc.  As the campaign moves down the line, we’ll also use the automatic tagging to track referrals so we can see who is raising the most funds and growing the membership in order to develop those relationships.

Sending emails has been easy.  To whatever list, or sublist, you wish.  So easy.

Setting up the payment system was one of the easiest experiences I’ve had.  We used PayPal and connected it to NationBuilder and it was all set.  It has plenty of options to work with anyone’s commerce setup.

Internet Farmer is thankful for being a part of this project.  A first director credit reminded us of how awesome producing media is to tell a story.  Learning NationBuilder.com was a gift.  And being a part of a big team working for something great couldn’t feel better.

Speaking of the first director credit and story telling, here’s the video we put together… thanks so much to Joseph Brunnett (videography) and Patrick Bonsant (editor) for their incredible work on the video.  And cheers to everyone on the marketing team who all contributed ideas and logistical planning to make this come to life.  This was truly a team effort and I am so thankful for the opportunity.

Buying Clubs Make Bigger Strides in Seattle, WA

We found this new buying club that wanted to launch a COSTCO-like offering, but with better food from good sources, and as direct as possible.

We support this kind of thing, and recommend it.  It is both our business, and political action, to help make this happen.  We wish them the best of luck in succeeding.

http://q13fox.com/2013/07/16/community-food-buying-club-to-start-in-ballard/

BuyingClubSoftware.com for Food Security

Food activism for the Internet Farmer keeps getting better and more interesting.  Jeremy writes about his experience at buyingclubsoftware.com…

Lakes Region Food Security Sub Committee Meetings

 

A Demonstration of Zen Cart Shopping Cart for Farmers

The following is a basic demonstration of a local-food-oriented shopping system for online ordering followed by in-person pickup.  An add-on module is available if you manage multiple pickup locations.

The design may be different on your shopping cart, but these functions are basically the same.

First we setup your products and categories and producers through simple forms like this in the shopping cart manager

edit-product

If you have added our Multi-Location module,
you’ll setup all of your pickup locations

location

When you are open for shopping, people easily
browse the site and add products to their cart as they go.

add-to-cart

As they shop, things are added to their shopping cart

shopping-cart

While the customer goes through the checkout process,
they are asked for a pickup location (if you use that module)

billing-pickup

After confirming their order, a shopper gets an email receipt

email-receipt

After the order is closed, you can easily
view and edit customer’s orders if you need to

edit-order

Print paper receipts for customers or you use
them as part of your order distribution process

invoice

With a special add-on for Zen Cart from Apsona, you can access all the information you need for operations.  Pick sheets, order sheets, and the ability to import/export of all your data (customers,products, etc)

apson

E-commerce & Small Farms

iStock_000004261337XSmallWhen I started working on a farm, it started becoming clear to me that selling online would make a great addition to the local food system. My farmer thought I was crazy.  The most basic reason why… because an online catalog can be doing all the work for me while I’m out working in the field or selling at a farmer’s market or farm stand.  There’s plenty of other reasons to, which depend on what type of sales structure you work with.  Here are some specific thoughts on the major venues of sales for smaller farms.

Farmer’s who have a farm stand or sell at retail in some form will find that e-commerce can directly translate online with an unmanned store taking orders 24/7.  Like a farm stand of your wares, you’ll have a website ready to accept orders using credit cards or purchase orders for pickups.  Your catalog is always up to date and allows customers to place orders without you having to take the call while you are planting a cover crop, harvesting, or making jams.  This applies to both retail and wholesale, as the system of shopping or putting in a purchase order is essentially the same when you automate it online.

For CSAs, displaying your catalog online gives prospective share holders an idea of what to expect for the season.  Some CSAs may benefit from actually selling products as well, so it can suit both purposes, and change as needed.  But selling online may not always be about a money exchange either, especially for CSAs or farmers who just want an easier way to communicate details of their farming.  Sometimes it’s marketing and communications, where you’ll want a blog and a newsletter to enhance the relationship with your members.  It’s all a part of doing e-commerce.

For Farmer’s Markets, groups of farmers and producers all share a single shopping cart can easily offer online ordering for customers to pick up on the day of the market.  The sale is complete before you harvest and carry it all to market, and you’ll have less waste since much of your selling was pre-ordered.  This is starting to happen around the country, and is a wonderful addition to business, and is part of e-commerce for farming.

For Buying Clubs, an online ordering system allows many people to order as groups.  This is a new and developing markets that can let farmers create their own markets, but certainly lives in the realm of e-commerce techniques, and the Internet Farmer is well versed to help you understand this an other emerging ideas online.