Announcing LFM’s Newest Release, including new features to improve your cash flow!

We are excited to announce a brand new release, featuring an all new Order Log for complete order traceability, customizable Payment Terms, several new features to improve cash flow, plus a new invoice template option, and more!

Order Log – all New!

We are so excited to offer an all new Order Log and several enhancements to the Order Item Log to help you see the history of changes made to an order.  In the Order Log, the following changes including the user that made the change, are captured:

  • Order Status – including Pre-Order, Submitted, and Canceled
  • Order Date, Order Period, Sub-period changes
  • Order Item Deletions, Additions
  • Order Item Quantity, Price, or Weight Adjustments
  • Sending of Invoices and Order Confirmations

The Order Item Log has also been enhanced to more easily see previous and revised quantity, price, and weight.  In addition, we’ve added a quick link to your Mandrill email log so you can easily see if customers have received or opened order confirmations, invoices, and other order communication.

 

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Customizable Payment Terms and Integration with Accounts Receivable Aging

Take charge of your cash flow with customizable Payment Terms – such as Net 30, Net 15, and Due Upon Receipt.  Each customer is set with default Payment Terms that automatically apply to new orders, but an individual order can be marked with different payment terms.  All unpaid orders not yet due will appear in the new  “Current” column of the Accounts Receivable Aging Report.


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We’ve also added an updated, integrated view of all unpaid orders.

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Improved Payment Application

We’ve further streamlined the application of payment to multiple orders so you have full visibility of Total Outstanding, Unapplied Payments and Unused Credits while entering payments.

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We are already deep in development of our next major release, which will feature a brand new (mobile first!) Producer Interface.  Stay tuned for more details in early winter.

Leveraging promo codes in your marketing plan

We are excited to add promo codes as one of the sales and marketing features newly available on our platform.* We’ve put together a guide for best practices for using these codes so that our customers can maximize their sales and profitability.  Before implementing promo codes, you will need to spend some time analyzing your customers, email list, and sales history to determine where promo codes will be most effective. Here are some common ways markets can use promo codes:

  1. Encourage customers to place their first order. Many food hubs have thousands of customers on their weekly email list, but receive orders from just a fraction of them. Help customers get over their first order jitters with a promo code to try your products. Consider creating an email with an included promo code to newly registered customers on a weekly or bi-weekly basis specifically aimed at encouraging them to place their first order.
  2. Better yet, encourage customers to place regular orders. Providing a promo code after the customer places 10 orders encourages repeat business and a long term relationship.
  3. Bring customers back that used to order regularly. Do you have customers that have mysteriously stopped placing orders after ordering every week? Reach out to them to see why and offer a promo code in exchange for their feedback.
  4. Encourage customers to place larger orders or try new products. The most efficient way to increase sales is to sell more to customers that are already ordering from you.  Experiment with offering codes such as $5 off for orders over a certain size or a free product for orders over a certain size.
  5. Encourage customers to tell their friends and business associates. Almost universally, the most effective way to get more customers is through your current customers. Offer referral codes after their referred customers place their first order.

Here are some best practices to help you implement promo codes successfully:

  • Be careful that you don’t overuse promo codes as you may train customers to wait for a deal before placing an order.
  • Make promo codes urgent and scarce to encourage immediate action. Be sure to make them valid for a limited time and consider allowing a code to be used a specific number of times (e.g. for the first 50 orders).
  • Get the word out! Use partner organizations and producers to help you let customers know about your offer. Some companies offer an incentive to partner organizations based on the sales that result from their network.
  • Use different codes in different marketing channels and events as a way to measure their effectiveness. For example, if you table at an event, create a specific code for that event. The promo codes will help you determine whether you want to table at the event in the future. We also recommend using different codes for various social media channels. This will help you determine where to focus your social media efforts.
  • Promo codes aren’t just for selling to consumers. If your market sells to wholesale buyers, you can use it to encourage chefs to place their first order, to encourage them to try a new product, or to help them buy more product.
  • Measure, measure, measure. Measure your sales, marketing, and profitability results before and after the promo.
    • Do you have new, “regular“ customers that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise?
    • How has average order size changed? And how does that impact profitability?
    • Has demand for a featured product increased?
    • How has the open rate changed on your weekly emails? How about engagement on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter?

Not quite sure how to get started? We have a moderated discussion on Promo Codes on our Customer Forum.

* Please note this feature is available for Standard, Premium, or Enterprise packages using LFM’s new shopping template. If you use the Starter Package, you may purchase an add-on that will include this feature. Please contact us if you wish to update your site template to take advantage of Promo codes and the other new features available on the new shopping template.

Version 4.0 – a completely updated customer shopping experience!

LFM turns 7 and releases a completely updated customer shopping experience!

As we celebrate turning 7, we are excited that LFM customer sites can implement our brand new customer shopping experience.  Here are some of the features:

  • Customer Weekly overview to see all available delivery days and all orders they have placed each week
  • Manage and edit their order throughout the ordering period
  • Edit their order from the mobile app or the web storefront
  • Promo codes
  • Single step order confirmation
  • Improved navigation with new filtering options

If you are interested in learning more, please contact us.

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3.3_Mandrill

Announcing our newest release, Version 3.3!

We recently released our third update of 2015, Version 3.3. We are very excited to add new features to help our customers streamline processes during what is the typically the busiest time of the year. Here is a preview of the nearly three dozen feature updates:

Email Dashboard Integration

Our customers are now able to access all of their market email message history within LFM. Customers can easily see message sent status as well as whether the email has been opened for all emails sent through LFM.

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Push Message Dashboard

For our customers that use our white label mobile app, they are now able to search their push message history with information on date, number of targeted devices, and success rate.

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For current customers, if you have not received the release notes for version 3.3, check your dashboard or contact us.

Announcing LFM’s Free Whitepaper: Food Hub’s Guide on Selling to Restaurants

Photo courtesy of Three Rivers Farm Alliance and Chef Jake from The Black Birch

Photo courtesy of Three Rivers Farm Alliance and Chef Jake from The Black Birch

Does your food hub sell to restaurants, catering companies, or corporate kitchens or are you thinking about it?  Restaurants are often the first step for a food hub that is aiming for the wholesale market and they are often a key piece of a food hub reaching financial sustainability. Approaching restaurants, and chefs in particular, requires nuance and flexibility.

Our Sales & Marketing Coordinator (and former chef) Ryan Crum breaks down best practices for whom to approach, developing a marketing plan, planning for growth, and a convenient list of Do’s and Don’ts in our recently published white paper, “Food Hub’s Guide on Selling to Restaurants”.

LFM's Guide to Selling to Restaurants

For more information on how LFM can help you and your food hub service restaurants better, please contact us.

 

 

 

Announcing our newest release, Version 3.1

We are excited to announce the release of our newest update, Version 3.1.  This release includes dozens of new features and enhancements to help LFM customers enter their busiest season equipped to maximize their sales!  As we often do in our spring release, we focused our efforts on the “little things” that make a big difference.

We did include a couple of “big” items too.  Version 3.1 features the commercial release of our Quickbooks Online API module that seamlessly exports sales from LFM into Quickbooks Online, broken down by Chart of Accounts.  We also incorporated enhancements to the newly released Production Planning module based on customer feedback – including an improved interface for faster entry of plans and management of pre-orders.

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LFM customers – please contact us to receive a link to our training webinar or to receive a copy of the Release Notes!

Meet our Team…Ryan Crum

In December 2014, we welcomed Ryan Crum to our team.  Ryan is our Sales and Marketing Coordinator and primary social media “voice”,  plus he’ll stop by here from time to time to share his ideas on the intersection of local food systems and his experience as a former Executive Chef, Marketing Manager for a grass-fed dairy, and Account Manager for several large food service companies.  We’re glad he’s joined our team of technology and food hub veterans.  Here’s Ryan’s story, in his words.

Growing up in Minnesota, I can’t really remember a time when local food was not important. When you have a short growing season, like much of the upper Midwest, you need to take full advantage of the warm temperatures while they last. As a child, my parents had a large garden that hosted the bounty of what Minnesotans are known to grow; mainly tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, carrots and rhubarb. The taste of carrots straight out of the garden, have stuck with me all these years.

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After graduating high school in Bloomington, MN, I did what most lost 18 year olds do in suburbia: went to college without much of a plan. Sitting in Philosophy 101, I realized how much I was daydreaming, not about my social life, a football game, or a new car, but about what I was going to cook for my roommates’ dinner that night. It was that moment that I realized I needed to pursue my lifelong love of food, and enroll in Culinary School.

I spent many years cooking from Minneapolis, to the North Shore of Lake Superior, and eventually to NW Montana. Nearly everywhere I landed, I tried to use local products in my kitchens. This was in the early 2000’s so the availability was pretty scarce. The biggest problem was the difficulty in sourcing, purchasing, and transporting the bounty these areas had to offer. If I was lucky, a fisherman would drop off line-caught whitefish or lake trout, or a forager would bring a truckload (yes, I said truckload) of fresh picked morel mushrooms to my back door. These surprise visits were too few and far between, however. When I left the kitchen, I wanted to learn more about how our food moves from the farm to the fork.

Ryan Pig

Transitioning out of the kitchen can be difficult for any chef, which is why many take the path I did and move into sales and distribution. I spent a few years with several large broad-line distributors, learning the ins and outs of distribution management. It did, however, take me further away from my end goal of working with local food systems. My ‘aha’ moment came as I was discussing canned tomatoes with a colleague, and the differences between ours and a competitor’s. He turned to walk away, and said: “Let’s be honest here, we are all just peddling a bunch of Monsanto junk from god knows where anyways.” I knew it was time to move on.  I landed as the Sales and Marketing Manager with Cedar Summit Farm, a model of sustainability, locavorism, and top notch agricultural products.

It was at the farm that I met Josh and Natalie Kelly, co-founders of Twin Cities Local Food, and a customer of Local Food Marketplace. I was fascinated by their business and how they were not only able to operate, but able to do it so efficiently with only the two of them as staff (they are now up to three!). I worked closely with the Kelly’s thorough Cedar Summit, farmers markets and with the organization Local Harvest Alliance. Natalie mentioned one day that their software provider was looking for a sales and marketing person, knowing that my position was being phased out with the farm. (Cedar Summit Farm ceased operations in January 2015.) That led me to Local Food Marketplace, and my goal of helping organize and grow our local food system.

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I live in Minneapolis with my beautiful wife Jennifer of 4 months and our wild-eyed two year old labradoodle Nero. I still cook quite a bit in my spare time, and love the wonderful summers in Minnesota where our farmers markets are bustling. We are huge afficanados of Bar-B-Que and all southern foods. We love spending time outdoors: hiking, working in the yard, and enjoying the lakes of MN. We enjoy traveling and, on our adventures, touring, visiting and sampling at local breweries and wineries. In my spare time I do communications work for longtime friend Marshall O’Brien of the Chef Marshall O’Brien Group, with his chef consulting business helping improve nutrition standards in schools, health care, and civic organizations. I also volunteer with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Organic Advisory Task Force and am currently serving a 3 year term.

I look forward to working with all of you, and helping you with any of your technology needs. I hope to bring a fresh voice to this blog and share stories about local food, success stories, or just something to make you smile. If there is anything I can help you with, please feel free to reach me anytime: ryan@localfoodmarketplace.com.

On turning 5 (and our celebration promotion)

To I’ve been reflecting this spring on LFM’s 5 year anniversary and our journey from operating our own food hub to now serving 70 food hubs around the US and Canada.  We started LFM with several key principles that still hold today – to help local food compete more effectively in our global food system, help small and medium sized producers efficiently reach local markets, and ultimately increase the amount of local food on our plates.  We’re proud that our earliest customers are still on the journey with us including Central Oregon Locavore, Eugene Local Foods, and Red Hills Small Farm Alliance.

We have certainly not gotten to this point alone or without building on the work and efforts of others and as such are offering several giveaways to celebrate our 5 year anniversary.  In the next month, we will be randomly selecting 6 operational food hubs not currently using LFM’s services to win.  The giveaways are described below:

 

GRAND PRIZE

For one operating food hub, we will waive our initiation fee plus waive our monthly minimum subscription fee for 12 months (value up to $2,700). The winner will receive all of our standard setup services, including building your custom website template, publishing your branded mobile app to Google Play and Apple App Store, plus one on one training and implementation services to ensure success.  The drawing will be July 7 at 12PM PT.

 

5 for 5 PRIZES

For five (one for each year we are in business) operating food hubs, we will waive our mobile app setup fee (value up to $500), plus provide marketing templates and support to help you get the word out.  We’ll be holding a random drawing for all entrants every Monday at 12PM PT from June 16 until July 14.

 

To enter, please fill out this short form so we can verify your food hub’s eligibility, contact you with followup questions, and provide other details on the promotions!  If you have questions, please feel free to contact us.

Please help spread the word by sharing this post!

And current customers, we aren’t leaving you out of the fun!  We will hold a separate anniversary promotion for current LFM customers in the late summer or fall.

 

Other details:

You may enter up until our last drawing, July 14, 2014.  Only one entrant per food hub.  There is no need to enter each week of the promotion – one entry will keep you in the game for all prizes.

We will use an online random number generator to select our winners (the entrants number will be based on order of valid entry into the promotion).  If you win a mobile app prize in the first couple of weeks and end up winning the grand prize, we’ll select another mobile app winner.

To accept the prize, winners must sign LFM’s standard 2 year license agreement within 30 days of receiving notification of prize and pay for other services not covered by the promotion.