June 2014 Newsletter

With peas and strawberries in abundance at our local market, and Memorial Day behind us, the busy harvest season and our 5 year anniversary have snuck up on us.  We have much to be thankful for and we’re excited to include you in our celebration.

We’re holding six exciting giveaways throughout June and July, with one lucky food hub getting a complete package (value up to $2,700), including a branded mobile app, website, training, and implementation with no initiation fee and no monthly minimum subscription fee for one year.  Read more about our anniversary promotion and how to enter in this post.  Our first winner will be announced Monday, June 16, so enter right away for your best chance to win!

We are also offering a new “Starter” pricing option, that includes core product features with a standard template for your order page.  Read more about this new option and a payment plan for startup food hubs below, plus hear about our new website, our NGFN food hub conference report,  an updated mobile app report, and a recap of LFM news.

New website!

We quietly published a new website a couple of months ago, with a resources section and an ever growing set of customer profiles.  We invite you to browse and let us know what you think!

NGFN conference – a big success!

We attended the NGFN conference in Raleigh back in March and got to put faces to many of the voices we speak with on a regular basis.  We saw more than a dozen customers including Kristen from Our Harvest (pictured in the middle with Amy and Laura).  Our session on Challenges and Opportunities with Multichannel Sales with panelists from Penn’s Corner Farm AllianceIdaho’s Bounty, and Farm Fresh Rhode Island drew a crowd and lots of engaging questions.  If you missed the session, you can download the mp3.

 

 

 

 

 

Mobile app update

Since our release of our first customer branded mobile app a year ago,  we have carefully observed the impact of mobile on our customer’s businesses.

In our last newsletter, we reported that mobile orders were 28% larger than web orders on average.  We’ve refined our reporting to differentiate between mobile, web, and admin orders (previously web and admin entered orders were lumped together).  With this adjustment, mobile orders are an aggregate 48% larger than web orders across all sites with a mobile app.

Our customers are also seeing an increasing number of orders placed via mobile app, driven primarily by chefs and consumers, with some markets now receiving up to 26% of their orders via mobile.  We expect this trend to continue as more people rely on mobile technology for work and personal use.

We’ve been asked a few times in the last few months about how mobile apps are different than responsive websites.  They are different in a couple of key ways:

  • Mobile apps offer the ability to send push notifications (notifications that appear on mobile devices).  Push notifications can be a strong sales driver and call to action.  Sending customers notifications like “Strawberries available – order now!” or “A few flats of cherries just listed” that appear on your customer’s phone or tablet generate instant action.
  • Based on numbers alone, customers prefer the app experience to the mobile browsing experience.  According to Nielsen, nearly 90% of mobile internet time is spent in apps, while only 10% is spent on a mobile browser.  This is likely because mobile apps better customize the user experience.  In LFM’s apps, food hub customers can instantly see which of their favorite products are available, add to their order, see their order history, adjust payment and delivery, and more.

New “Starter” plan

This is the perfect plan for small and emerging food hubs to get started! For a limited time (through end of July), we’re also offering payments plans with this package to spread your initiation fee over 12 months.  For just $50/mo plus our standard monthly subscription fees for the first year (and just the standard monthly subscription fees for your second year and beyond), this is a great way for food hubs with limited budgets to get started and add new features such as a multi-channel sales management, customized website template, branded mobile app, route management, and more as you grow.  Please contact us for more details!

Resources for food hubs and producers

Don’t forget about the quickly approaching deadlines for USDA’s Local Food Promotion Program and Farmers Market Promotion Program grants, both due June 20, 2014.

LFM news recap

LFM’s mobile app was recently featured in Modern Farmer and our company was profiled in 1859 Magazine.

For a thought provoking read, check out Dan Barber’s NY Times opinion on “What Farm to Table Got Wrong” and my reaction to it on our blog.

New customer, Puget Sound Food Hub, was featured in Grow Northwest.  Be sure to take the time to check out their elegant new website.

Another new customer, Capital District Community Gardens of Troy, NY held a ribbon cutting ceremony for their food hub, Virtual Veggie Mobile, with the NY State Ag Commissioner.

Thank you for all that you do for our local food systems!

Cheers!

Amy McCann, CEO
Local Food Marketplace

March 2014 Newsletter

We are very excited for spring and the seemingly endless possibilities of the upcoming growing season. Spring fever arrived in full force this weekend when I discovered some asparagus spears peaking through our garden soil. I can’t wait for fresh strawberries, rhubarb, peas, and asparagus.

We’ve had our heads down this winter, developing new features and enhancing some existing ones. We’re happy to report our latest release, Version 2.3, will be live on all customer sites within the next week.

Laura at MOSESWhile our development team has been working on both the web and mobile app, we’ve connected with many of you at conferences (at right is Laura, our Customer Support Analyst at MOSES with Cathy from Prairie Roots Co-op and Jason from Iowa Valley Co-op).  We also presented on how mobile technology is impacting local food at the NOFA – Mass Winter Conference and on opportunities for food hubs at the WI Local Food Network conference. If you’ll be at the NGFN conference in Raleigh next week, be sure to say hello and attend our workshop on Challenges and Opportunities for Multichannel Food Hub Sales.

Read on to hear more about our latest release, preliminary mobile app results, what we’re up to next, and Purple Porch Co-op’s recent retail store opening. Lastly, you’ll find a resources section where we’ve pulled together some new information for food hubs.

New release – Route Manager, custom price lists, and more!
Our latest release contains a bunch of new features for streamlining food hub sales to grocers and retailers, restaurants, and institutions. It includes
custom product lists for providing filtered product lists (e.g. just produce to the producer buyer or just certified organic products to a restaurant that only buys certified organic), delivery route management, and VIN/UPC integration. Early feedback from customers has been really positive!

Preliminary mobile app results
We’ve published more than a dozen mobile apps with about 10 more coming soon. Anne, our Sales and Marketing Coordinator, analyzed how the mobile app is impacting sales for a handful of our markets that have been using the app for about 6 months. Here are the highlights of what we’ve learned so far.

  •   Orders placed via mobile for consumers are, on average, 28% higher than orders placed via web. All markets evaluated have higher average consumer order size for mobile orders. We will continue to monitor this statistic as other markets implement the mobile app. We suspect that order reminders sent via push messages are prompting customers to add more items to their order.
  • Once a customer begins ordering via mobile app, 70% continue to order via mobile app almost exclusively, suggesting they prefer the mobile app experience.
  • Overall monthly sales have become more stable (less fluctuation month to month) since implementing the mobile app. This is consistent for all markets that have implemented the mobile app.

We’ll continue to review trends and analyze the impacts the mobile app is having on markets. Look for an upcoming blog post (yes, we’re launching a blog!) for more details on our analysis to date.

What We’re Up to Next
We are just about ready to launch a new website with new content and information. It will include a blog, where we will have posts on new features, marketing ideas, important issues our industry faces, customer highlights, and LFM company information. Please tell us what you want to hear about!

Next steps
If you subscribe to the NGFN food hub listserv (instructions below on how to subscribe) you may have read that we are beta testing a new feature for supply and demand forecasting. We will be focusing this spring and summer on making this applicable to our diverse customer base. Thank you to everyone that participated in online and phone surveys about your current supply and demand forecasting practices and needs. While we sensed there was a need for more formal systems, we were blown away by the response from the food hub community.

Purple Porch Co-op launches a retail store
PPC logo We have been excitedly following Purple Porch Co-op since they began using LFM in 2010, just a year after they launched their campaign to open a retail co-op store in South Bend, IN. They opened our eyes to the synergies of retail co-ops and online markets and we now work with nearly a dozen markets with retail operations or retail co-ops in the formation stage.

PPC

Photo credit: Purple Porch Co-op, 2014

About a month ago, they opened their store to the public and we’ve been drooling (via Facebook) over the amazing prepared foods coming out of their cafe. Pictured above is their Wednesday night local food night where customers pickup their weekly local food orders from producers. They currently have about 400 member owners and have used many creative strategies to generate capital to open their store. We’ll be featuring a blog post on Purple Porch shortly, so stay tuned!

Resources for food hubs and producers

NGFN food hub conference & listserv
Next week is the NGFN food hub conference in Raleigh, NC. NGFN offers a listserve for food hubs to ask questions and share ideas. You can subscribe here.

Funding opportunities
In addition to providing a community of practice for food hubs, NGFN is also offering Food Hub Development Grants, due March 30, 2014. Read more about the program here and listen to a recorded webinar to learn more.

Thank you for all that you do for our local food systems!

Cheers!

Amy McCann, CEO
Local Food Marketplace