Local food marketplace ecommerce solutions take regional farmers market transactions online while preserving everything consumers love about shopping locally.
Weekly farmers’ markets have long been the bastion of regional food sales. They provide a reliable outlet for small farmers and food artisans worldwide to sell to their community. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, approximately 12% of consumers preferred to shop at their local farmers’ markets. Meanwhile, the pandemic re-focused emphasis on healthy foods and home cooking. Many were inspired to shop for local products. In June 2020, one in five U.S. adults said they planned to shop even more at their local farmers markets that year.
But, at the same time, shoppers are increasingly purchasing online. This trend, exacerbated by the pandemic, shows no signs of slowing down. A February 2021 survey of 8000 shoppers found that 73% had purchased grocery items online within the last three months, compared to just 17% when asked that same question was asked in 2017!
So, we have two converging trends — online shopping and local shopping. The problem has been combining the two. How can we preserve what consumers love about farmers markets —regionality, fresh, healthy food and face-to-face relationship with their farmers — in an online, e-commerce marketplace?
The solution? Local-based, online farmers’ marketplace apps like Food4All, offer low risk market management approaches to helping local farmers’ markets and food hubs sell food online.
Online farmers marketplace software and ecommerce solutions increase regional farm and food artisan sales in four key ways:
- Making Local Food Shopping Convenient
- A One-Stop-Shop for Local Food Sales
- Help Shoppers Find Regional Farmers Selling Direct
- Encourage More Physical Sales at Pick-up
#1 – Shopping Convenience with an Online Local Food Marketplace
As seasoned farmers market vendors know, the big battle isn’t getting shoppers to buy. It’s getting the shoppers to their market booth or farm stand in the first place.
Shoppers are busier than ever. Convenience, quick and easy purchasing is a dominant trend in consumer purchasing. Even though most prioritize healthy and locally sourced eating, time becomes an issue. Finding the time to plan a farm stand or farmers market shopping excursion into their busy lives is a significant barrier to supporting regional farmers and local food artisans.
Your farm stand or market is open hours when they don’t have time to shop. Or when they do carve out the time, there is no guarantee the items they are looking for will still be available. Minor inconveniences can build into major detriments to purchasing local foods. Consumers end up turning to online mega shopping solutions like Amazon Prime or Instacart instead.
A virtual local food marketplace means consumers can purchase at their convenience — just like they do with those big, mega shopping solutions — knowing that the items they want will be available. They can then plan into their busy lives the scheduled pickup time (or request delivery if offered).
#2 – Virtual Farmers Markets are a One-Stop-Shop
Another reason grocery stores and online shopping apps like Instacart have captured market share is that they are a one-stop-shop.
When visiting a farmers’ market, most consumers visit many different vendors to fill up their shopping basket. Locally-grown veggies from one booth and pasture-raised beef from another. A dozen eggs and a loaf of artisan bread from a third vendor. Now, who has locally-grown fruit and berries? Without local food marketplace software solutions, consumers have had the same experience when shopping locally online – they have to go to several websites to get what they need to fill their grocery needs.
Over the last few years, many small-scale, direct farmers have built websites for their farm products. For example, Food4All’s free online store gives farmers and food artisans their own online store. But, that is still limited to just one farmer’s products!
Online farmers marketplaces give consumers the “grocery store” experience but in an e-commerce format. Food4All technology allows shoppers to fill up their online shopping cart from all their favorite regional farmers on just one e-commerce site and easily pay for it all in one simple transaction.
#3 – An Online Local Food Marketplace Connects Shoppers with Their Local Farmers
Direct farmers and food artisans typically have a loyal customer base of shoppers that love their products and make frequent purchases. But what small-scale farmers and food artisans don’t usually have is a generous marketing and advertising budget to target new customers and grow that loyal customer base.
Marketplace apps and software solutions like Food4All utilize geolocation technology that helps local consumers find the local food vendors close to them.
Geolocation is the geographical location of an internet-connected device (this is what powers Google Maps!). When it comes to local food shopping, online solutions like Food4All match buyers searching local foods with the farms and producers selling fresh fruits, vegetables and artisan craft food closest to them.
Local food marketplace ecommerce solutions are an easy (and free, in the case of Food4All) solution to building your market base for regional farmers and food artisans.
#4 – Online Farmers Markets with Market Pick-Ups Encourage More In Person Sales
Farmers offering CSA (community subscribed agriculture) pickups at their weekly farmers market location learn that a farmers’ market box pickup equal increased market sales. More often than not, a CSA customer will augment their weekly box with additional purchases. Once onsite, these customer will either buy from the same farmer or other market vendors.
The same thing happens when online local food marketplaces schedule their pickup time at their weekly farmers market or farm store. Food4All allows virtual marketplaces the flexibility to designate how they organize pickup. They can choose a pickup at their existing weekly market, direct pickup from participating vendors, delivery or a combination of several options.
It’s the best of all worlds for many local food shoppers. They can pre-order and lock in their favorite farm products. Once they show up for pickup, they have an opportunity to shop for whatever else looks good that week.
Try Out Our Food Hub Technology with a Trial!
Are you interested in learning more about Food4All technology? We’re helping farmers markets and food hubs across the country utilize our free, online food hub technology. Schedule your demo today!