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A growing post-pandemic consumer shopping trend is ideally suited for small, locally-focused farmers, ranchers and food producers.

Referred to as ‘Click and Collect,’ this is a type of e-commerce or omnichannel shopping. Click and collect consumers prefer to place their order online and then travel to pick it up at the store or an assigned pick-up location. For food makers, farmers and ranchers targeting a local, community-based audience, click and collect presents obvious opportunities.

Also known as Buy Online Pick-up in Store (BOPIS), click and collect shopping experienced massive growth during the Covid-19 pandemic and is predicted to proliferate into the future.

“US click-and-collect sales more than doubled in 2020 and will sustain double-digit growth rates through 2024,” Business Insider.

Other online shopping strategies that took off during the pandemic shutdowns, such as order, pick, and delivery (like InstaCart) or weekly food box subscriptions mailed directly to the customer’s home, are not maintaining that growth now that shoppers are returning to their traditional habits.  InstaCart’s sales fizzled in the first quarter of 2022, resulting in a 40% loss in value. But the popularity of click and collect is holding firm.

Click and collect combines everything consumers love about e-commerce shopping while eliminating the downsides. It’s convenient and fast, especially when it comes to grocery shopping. And it doesn’t come with added-on costs. With rising inflation and food prices, the post-pandemic shopper is increasingly reluctant to pay for the extra services required for delivered orders (DoorDash), doesn’t want to wait days for deliveries frequently disrupted by overworked postal and delivery companies (Amazon Prime) and finds they miss making last-minute shopping choices based on freshness, availability and simply what looks appealing.

A click-and-collect strategy checks all the boxes consumers want, especially for shoppers that prioritize locally-grown food.

Why is Click and Collect So Perfect for Small Scale Farmers, Ranchers and Food Producers?

Big retailers like Walmart, Home Depot and Target were quick to take advantage of the click-and-collect trend throughout the pandemic. They set up drive-up areas and assigned parking spots for shoppers to wait for their pre-ordered items to be delivered to them.

But small-scale, locally focused farmers, ranchers and food producers are arguably better suited to take advantage of a click-and-collect shopping strategy. Why? Because consumers that prioritize local food in their shopping preferences do so mainly because of the experience of shopping local. These shoppers prefer to visit their local farm stand, or farmer’s market, even if they don’t have long to stay or want to ensure they get the items they most want on their grocery list. Knowing they have already pre-ordered and ‘reserved’ what they need and can reliably acquire it via a quick pick-up is a relief. Then, if they have time and see something else they want, they can still indulge in those last-minute purchases. And making the pickup at the farm stand or at a local farmer’s market keeps them feeling connected with their preferred farm producer and operations, even if just briefly.

A click-and-collect strategy, when offered by local food makers, farmers and ranchers, combines the convenience of e-commerce shopping consumer’s demand while satisfying the ethics that motivate local food shoppers to support healthy, sustainable food producers in their local community. It’s the best of all shopping worlds.

Examples of Click and Collect for Small Food Producers

Also, click and collect is a uniquely flexible strategy for marketing your products, with many ways farmers, ranchers and food producers can tailor this method to promote their products.

  • Order online for pick up at your farm at a designated period but when your farm stand is open to encourage additional sales.
  • Order online for pick up at a regularly scheduled farmer’s market and experience the same benefit of encouraging additional sales.
  • Order online for pick up at a food hub with other food producers. This is a great way to attract a more extensive base of shoppers. Vegetable farms, livestock producers, bakers, flower farmers, and many others can collaborate to offer ‘one-stop pickup’ convenience.
  • Use click and collect to promote specials or hot items, such as first-come, and first-serve on popular seasonal items, like berries. Consumers appreciate the heads up and jump on the chance to reserve popular items.

Hyper-Local Delivery? Or Click and Collect?

There’s been much discussion about hyper-local delivery for food and farm producers over the last few years. But, let’s face it, delivery can be challenging for small food businesses to accommodate and quickly eats into profits.

Delivery requires staff time, an appropriate and often dedicated delivery vehicle and extra logistics in packing orders. There are additional complications to consider, such as what if the customer isn’t home when you deliver an order and it sits out all day in the heat? Then there are the high costs of gas.

To truly cover the expenses of offering delivery, a food producer must build it into their prices or add a delivery surcharge. But frankly, it can be hard to justify delivery for small orders that a single consumer might place.

Meanwhile, as already noted, many consumers are concerned themselves about the costs involved in delivery services. They’d rather pick up while running other errands and know they can take their products immediately home, save on the extra costs for delivery and have more money to spend on their food purchases.


Click and Collect as Part of Your Company’s ‘Place’ Marketing Strategy

Click and collect helps to solve one of the biggest marketing hurdles for small, locally-based food producers and farmers – developing an effective “place” game plan.

Place, or the distribution channels a business uses to sell their products, is one of the crucial four components of a “Four P’s” marketing philosophy for profitable companies. Especially since finding the right ‘place’ to sell has always been challenging for regionally-based producers that are often too small for distribution in local grocery store outlets, aren’t in a good location to accommodate an on-farm store and struggle to find the time in their busying farming and ranching schedule to attend farmer’s markets that may already be saturated with similar products.

To learn how a ‘Four Ps’ plan can profit your small farmers, ranchers or food makers, download our free marketing guide with actionable marketing tips specific to local food businesses.

A click-and-collect option can easily become your company’s primary ‘place’ strategy with the added benefit of being easily tailored to different sales scenarios or working in conjunction with other place marketing elements, like selling at a farmer’s market.

Optimizing the Click and Collect Experience Through an Online Store

Because click and collect is an e-commerce method of shopping, consumers that gravitate to it do have a high standard of expectation for a seamless and easy-to-use experience.

That means being able to find you and navigate your online company store as well as quickly and easily placing and paying for their order.

Food4All’s free online store matches local buyers with your business through our zip code matching services and links directly to your existing social media and website and our payment processing automatically takes customers’ payments and delivers funds weekly to your bank account. Our online store showcases your product and is open 24/7, meaning you never miss an order, and it’s extremely convenient for your customer to place an order. Yet you also have the flexibility of designating where and when your customer can pick up their order, whether at the farm, a local farmer’s market, a nearby food hub or any other place you designate for order pickups.

A Food4All store is the perfect platform for perfecting a click-and-collect shopping strategy for your food, farm or ranch business.

Interested in learning more? Contact Food4All with questions or sign up for a free demonstration.