3 ways to use Instagram Insights to get more customers

Tracking your analytics may seem like a tedious and overwhelming task, yet it really doesn’t have to be! It can help you determine what to post, how frequently, and if your hard work is paying off. As a small business owner and food producer, we understand that you are extremely busy – so why not make the most of your marketing strategies to grow your business, and measure your success.

Luckily, Instagram does a lot of the work for you! When you switch to a business account, you get access to Instagram Insights, an analytics feature. If you haven’t yet switched to a business account, or haven’t signed up for an Instagram account – this post will guide you through the process.

Within Instagram Insights, you get access to three main sections: Activity, Content, and Audience. These sections can tell you crucial information about who is interacting with your content and whether your marketing is paying off. To learn more about these insights and what they are telling you – check out this post.

Now, that you understand what analytics are and what they are telling you, it is important to use them to help you! Here are our three best tips to help you get started:

Set a Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

A key performance indicator or KPI is a measurable parameter that can be used to evaluate success. As success looks different for each business, you must determine which parameter works for you to measure. If your business thrives on community and communication with your audience, track engagement. If you are looking to build your customer base and following, track reach.

Note: Reach is the number of unique visitors to a piece of content and engagement is the number of comments and likes on a piece of content.

By determining what you’re tracking, you have the ability to determine what success will look like for you. Create a spreadsheet and update results each week. Within a few weeks you will be able to see trends and adjust your strategy to meet your goals!

Calculate Engagement Rate for each of your posts

Engagement Rate represents the percentage of your followers that are engaging with a certain post or story. It is not a value that Instagram calculates for you, however it can easily be calculated two ways:

Method 1: Engagement Rate (%) = [(Number of Likes and Comments) / Number of Followers] x 100


Method 2: Engagement Rate (%) = [(Number of Likes and Comments) / Reach] x 100

Method 1 calculates the Engagement Rate against all of your followers. This value determines how many of all your followers are actually engaging with your posts. Low values can be due to many factors such as posting times, hashtags, videos versus photos, and more!

Method 2 calculates the engagement rate against all the followers you actually reached. It determines out of all the people that saw your content, how many actually engaged with your post. This value can be useful for when analyzing the content itself. For example, if this many followers are seeing the content, why do only 10% like it?

Both methods provide powerful insights into your posts and engagement with customers. By playing around with types of content, hashtags, posting times, and more – you can use the engagement rates to determine which gets you the best results. Similar to your KPI, make sure you are tracking this value over time to get accurate results.

Posting times

In the Audience section of Instagram Insights, you will find information about your followers such as top locations, age range, gender and followers. This information can give you insight about your followers and when they’re engaging with your content. Most importantly, use the followers section to track at what time of day and which day of the week your followers are most active. Schedule your posts to match peak use times. This will increase possible engagement your customers will have with your content.

These are just three ways you can use Instagram Insights to grow your following and increase customer engagement. There is still much more to be learned and to explore in this space. By fine-tuning your strategy using real-time data, you are able to better use the system. Don’t let analytics scare you off, but instead use them to help you run a more successful business!

4 Ways to Increase your Instagram Following

Our last post covered the benefits of Instagram and how to create an account. Instagram is an extremely powerful tool that focuses on visual content to help you showcase your business and products. Food is a very visual industry, so why not make use of a tool that amplifies that?

Just like any marketing tool, you need to build a following in order to get customers. When first starting out with Instagram it can be overwhelming to reach your audience, so we have compiled some tips to help you get started! Here are the best Instagram practices to help your business increase its following:

1. #teamfollowback

Just starting your profile? Network amongst your community by following other local suppliers, restaurants, retailers and other customers. This will give them a nudge that you moved to Instagram or help you get traction with potential buyers. Additionally, when you’re looking to increase your following, it is important to follow customers back. Just like being personal through direct messaging or commenting, following your customers shows you care (as funny as that sounds). As your following grows, this will be less important, however when first starting out be sure to practice this!

2. Check your insights!

When you switch to an Instagram Business account you have access to Insights. Insights gives you data about who’s looking at your content. It will help you determine what’s working and what isn’t! If you haven’t set up a business account, check out this blog post.

To access your insights, click the stacked lines in the top-right corner on your profile. Click Insights. Within Insights, you’ll see three main sections: Activity, Content, and Audience.

Within Activity, you see:

    • Interactions. It will give you insights such as number of profile visits and website clicks.
    • Discovery. Tells you more about who you’re reaching.
    • Reach and impressions. Reach is the number of unique visitors to your content and impressions is the number of times your content has been viewed.

Within Content, you see:

    • How many and which posts you’ve posted that week.
    • Post and story engagement. For example, which posts are most popular and how many people are engaging with it.
    • Promotions. This is only relevant if you pay for Instagram ads.

Within Audience, you see:

    • Locations. Where your followers are located. This can be split up into City or Country.
    • Age Range. It is interesting to see what age range you are attracting with your content.
    • Gender.
    • Followers. Shows you when your followers are most active on social media. This can help you determine when you should post to increase engagement.

Check your insights frequently to help you determine if you’re reaching the right audience and if your content is popular. Additionally use the Audience header to determine best posting times! Tracking your progress is essential for determining what works and what doesn’t. It also can help you make decisions that will help you increase your following.

3. Promote on all your platforms

If you are using multiple social media platforms – cross-promote! Post on your Facebook page to follow your Instagram account. This can help drive customers to follow on all platforms. Additionally, if you have a mailing list, add links to your social media channels in your emails. Sometimes in order to increase your following all you need to do is inform your customers.

4. Interact with followers beyond posting pictures

A great way to hook followers is being personal! Interacting with customers via Direct Message or starting conversations through commenting can have a lasting impact. Food is very personal and customers want to get to know who’s producing theirs. Just like selling in person, when selling online you want to maintain customer service! Don’t underestimate the power of personal communication!

There are many other methods to increase your following, however these are the four best ones to help you get started! Social media marketing is all about networking. You need to put work and effort in order for people to get hooked – just posting the occasional picture will not get you results. When done properly, Instagram can help you get new customers and build brand recognition. Follow these tips and watch the follows roll in!

How to sell food with your neighbors

As the demand for locally-produced, environmentally friendly, and socially ethical food continues to rise, consumers are looking to the food industry for new solutions. Due to the high cost of marketing for small food suppliers, direct-to-household sales are often not an option for many. Food hubs offer a platform for food suppliers to get brand exposure and guaranteed sales. They are a great place for communities to come together over the love of fresh, local food, while also supporting the local economy.

Food hubs are often started by a group of farmers looking for a better way to sell their produce. Take Click Fork for example – after the closure of a local co-operative grocery store, four farmers lost a major sales outlet. Instead of continuing to lose business, they decided to join forces and create Click Fork, a Northeastern Online Farmer’s Market.

“We all have the same mindset and approach to how we’re growing food, and that’s based on ecological and/or organic principles, and we all direct market.” – James Morin, Owner of Kipling Ridge Farms in Verner, Ontario.

Since starting a food hub, these farmers have seen an increase in their sales and have saved money on marketing and distribution. This platform allows them to thrive in their market, while continuing to do what they love. For more on Click Fork and how they got started, check out this article.

Does this sound like something that fits for your business? Where should you start?

Let’s backtrack a little. To start off, what is a food hub?

According to the USDA Food Hub Resource Guide, a food hub is a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers. In other words, a food hub is a centralized platform where consumers are able to purchase local food direct from the farmer through a business or organization. The hub acts as the overarching body that lets all of this happen.

In order to be considered a food hub by USDA standards, the hub must:

  1. Aggregate, distribute and market primarily locally produced foods from multiple suppliers and sell to multiple outlets.
  2. Provide technical assistance to producers when needed to reach buyer requirements.
  3. Consider the suppliers as valued business partners (they cannot be interchangeable) and commit to buying from mid to small sized producers.
  4. Use product differentiation strategies to help suppliers get a good price. These include marketing, branding, and food transparency.
  5. Have a positive social, environmental, and economic impact on the community by promoting suppliers that carry out production practices or environmental services.

Food hubs are essential. It is hard as a small food supplier to make the jump from selling at farmer’s markets to selling to large grocery chains and restaurants. Food hubs provide a platform for farmers to sell into a new market and reach more customers. Two (or many) is always stronger than one.

If starting a food hub or becoming a part of one is something that interests you, it’s important to know your stuff. Here are 6 tips we found important to know:

Safety first!

This tip is pretty straight-forward. All food businesses must adhere to the Health and Safety Standards set in place by the local government. In a food hub, you have a longer supply chain than a farm-to-customer system, as there might be warehousing and increased travel involved. Make sure to always be on top of the regulations and implement them successfully into your distribution and processing procedures.

Treat yo’ farmers!

When you go back to the principle of a food hub, it all comes down to the farmers. They are the lifeline of the business and the reason you may have started it in the first place. Be sure to maintain and grow healthy business relationships in order to ensure success for all in the long run. Unhappy farmers = unhappy business.

Details matter!

As a food hub owner, you need to know everything about your business. A local food hub is run on the principle that you are sourcing the freshest and best quality produce a customer can get. Customers are taking more effort and buying into the system that is better for them, their local economy and the environment – so you need to make sure they know why they came in the first place. You need to be the expert of everything you buy and everything you sell. Not only do you need to be an expert, but the knowledge must seep into every aspect of your business. Whether that’s your sales personal selling to customers, the warehouse crew (if applicable) packaging and sorting through products, or the delivery team bringing products door to door, you need to empower your employees to be able to answer questions and vouch for your business at all times.

Sell all year long!

Like market season, a lot food hubs only operate in the summer months due to the high influx of beautiful produce and warm weather. This is a mistake. The issue with skipping the winter months is the loss of exposure in the 6 months your business isn’t operating. Customers still eat in the winter, so give them something to order. Be seasonal and diversify your product range to match demand.

Grow one inch at a time

Success happens over time. It takes a while to grow a customer base and increase your sales. Most failure is seen when a business tries to grow too quickly. Take everything one step at a time. Start with a few different suppliers and offer a few pick up locations. As demand rises, get customer feedback and consider adding more stock and more suppliers. This way your business will grow organically and continue to support the local food economy.

Track everything in one place

When you are running a business where you are sourcing from multiple people and selling to multiple people, there is a lot of room for error. Make sure you keep track of all orders (incoming and outgoing), all deliveries, and all inventory in one place, so you can never lose anything! The best place to start is using an online platform! This allows you to automate many actions such as taking orders and tracking inventory in real time, which saves you from having to do it manually.

There is a lot that goes into starting and running a successful food hub and we’ve barely scraped the surface. If there is one take away, always remember to take one step at a time and to know your stuff. Starting a food hub and growing a successful business takes time. You’ll have to try out a few different things before you figure it out, so don’t get discouraged!

How to get started with Instagram as a farmer

Instagram is a great tool to help you market your business! It’s all about visual content and is great for showcasing your production process, your family & employees, and your products. Ultimately, it’s meant to portray authenticity, and allow your customers to understand your lifestyle. If you are a small-scale food producer, Instagram is a great way to create an online brand and drive demand for your products.

Why instagram?

It is a hub for literally everything! Over 25 million businesses use the application and 200 million instagrammers visit at least one business profile every day. There’s a ton of opportunity to engage potential customers and showcase your brand. Instagram is a powerful marketing tool!

Here’s a little background on Instagram.

Instagram is a social media platform that is made for sharing photographs and videos from your phone. Each user has a profile where they can upload photos and a news feed that shows content uploaded by those who you follow. When you upload a photo, it will be displayed on your profile and on the newsfeed of the people that follow you. It has an emphasis on fast and easy visual sharing.

But why is it helpful for food producers?

Food is a very visual industry! How many times have you seen pictures of a beautiful dish and thought, “I would eat that!” The goal of using Instagram as a marketing tool is to convince consumers to buy your products. This platform lets you upload photos and videos on your feed or on stories – a 24-hour quick, engaging photo/video format for smartphones – in a way that connects you with customers and keeps them up to date. It’s personal, simple-to-use, and extremely powerful! On top of this, it’s free, so there’s really no reason to not at least try it!

Let’s get started:
Step 1: Setting up your account

The first step is to download the app. Instagram, unlike other social medias, is meant to use on your phone, therefore to sign up and use the program, you must have access to a smartphone or tablet. When you first open the Instagram app, you will get prompted to sign up. Be sure to sign up using a business email address.

The next step is to enter your info:

Full Name: Enter the name of your business. This will allow your business to be recognizable amongst visitors.

Username: This is the name of what people search to find your business. It starts with @ symbol. For example Local Line’s username is @locallineinc. Please note, if the name of your business may already have been taken, you may have to get creative.

Step 2: Building your account

Now that you have an account, it’s time to optimize it to start increasing your followers. Start with choosing your profile picture. This is an image that is associated with your account. We recommend using your logo as it keeps consistency with the branding of your business or a picture that best represents your business. Remember, that Instagram automatically crops your photos into a circle, therefore leave room in the corners for this.

Your Instagram bio is a short (150 character maximum) and concise summary of what you do! In your bio you can also urge followers to take an action by adding a URL such as your online store or business website. If using a URL, be sure to shorten your link using bitly to keep your profile from looking cluttered.

If you want to change anything later, you can always update your profile at a later date by clicking on the “Edit Profile” button.

How to use Instagram as a farmer - Spray Creek Ranch

Here is an example of an Instagram profile by Local Line customer Spray Creek Ranch.

Step 3: Switching to a business profile

At this point you have an account and profile ready to go! The next step is to make your public profile a business profile. To do this, go to the Settings tab. It can be accessed by clicking the three stacked lines located in the upper-right corner of the homepage. Click the settings button located at the bottom of the page.

How to use Local Line as a farmer - Local Line

In Settings, scroll down to Account. Click Switch to Business Profile. Instagram will lead you through how to switch. Note, in order to create a business profile, you must already have a business Facebook page.

How to use Instagram as farmer - Local Line

This will let your profile appear as a business to your followers. It will also give you access to analytics that will give you insight on posting times, followers, engagement and more. In a business profile, you are able to add location, category, phone number, email and directions. These features can help you increase your sales.

Now you have set up your account properly and are ready to start instagramming!


How to use MailChimp marketing to increase your sales!

Local food is hard to access, and there’s only a small percentage of people who truly go out of their way to purchase the majority of their food locally. As a consumer, it’s much easier to go to a grocery store instead of ordering online and coordinating delivery with a local food producer. It is your role to communicate with consumers on why purchasing from you is worth it – whether that’s for their health, to support their community, or to help the environment.

Every marketing tool has its place and are essential for connecting with customers. Social media is great for sharing photos and content, however creates too much noise, and things get lost too easily. What you need is a direct channel to customers to share your products, story, and life with them. This is where email campaigning comes in. MailChimp allows you to create demand by telling your authentic story. Instead of just sending another email, use this tool to best showcase your lifestyle and products to potential customers. They need that pull in order to commit to being a customer.

So, what is MailChimp?

MailChimp is an online email marketing tool that allows small businesses who lack high end tools and resources to access technology that helps them grow. It makes email campaigns flawless. The tool lets you use templates, fill in your business specific content, choose recipients and send! Further, the tool provides services like email automation, marketing campaigns and analytics*.  It will reinvent your emailing procedures.

*Note: Analytics is the discovery, accumulation and communication of data collected on your marketing, such as number of clicks, views, and replies.

So, let me tell you how it can help you with your food business! These are some of the best features of MailChimp, how to use them and how they can help you increase your sales:

Templates, templates and more templates!

Do you struggle with making your emails look flashy? MailChimp has premade professional templates that allow you to fill in the blanks with your information. These templates include different kinds of text boxes, dividers, buttons, social media links, and more. You probably had never thought of adding those to your emails in the past! It takes the work and time out of designing your own templates! You can also save templates you’ve used in the past and use them in different email campaigns. These templates make your emails look flashy and professional, while saving you so much time from having to format them time and time again.

To increase your sales, use templates to create emails that include:

  • A header that represents your business and products. We recommend using a nice photograph and placing your logo on top.
  • Photographs. Include beautiful pictures of your farm, production process and of you! Show people where their food is coming from. Also include pictures of new or featured products.
  • A link to where they can order from you and an explanation on how.
  • Any social media links where they can follow you for more information.
  • Any other content such as blog posts that you’ve written or videos that show what you do.

The power of automation.

Automation allows you to write the right emails to the right people and send them at the right time. Instead of sending individual emails, you can save time and money by letting the system do it for you. Whether your sending information about upcoming events, new products, or ordering deadlines, this system lets you customize sending lists, content and dates to a tee.

Here is some more explanation:

According to MailChimp, an automation is an email or series of emails sent to one individual based on a “trigger”.  A trigger is the event that starts an email/series. This event could be someone signs up for an emailing list to get more information or someone makes a purchase from you. Additionally, you can add a delay. A delay is the period of time between a trigger and the send. For example, when someone becomes a customer, take 2 days before sending them your welcome email. When a customer sets off a trigger, they get put into a queue, where they sit until the delay has passed. Just for reference, a queue is a group of contacts who meet the criteria and are waiting to receive their next email based on the delay.

There’s a lot of terminology – but essentially you set criteria such as purchasing a product or signing up to a mailing list, then MailChimp puts those contacts into a specified list. From that list, those contacts are sent timed marketing emails that you create and set-up only once. Think about how much time that saves you!

To increase your sales, we suggest:

  • Adding all new customers or interested people into a list in MailChimp. There are ways to have signups automatically populate into MailChimp, and the program provides detailed explanation on how to do so. If you can automate this process even further – we definitely suggest it!
  • This customer list should be sent an automated “Welcome Email”. This email should include a thank you message for joining or purchasing, information about your business and how they can easily order from you in the future.
  • A second automated email should be created and “delayed” to be sent a week after the welcome email reminding them how to order again.

You can take automation very far by adding multiple emails to a campaign that have different triggers. We recommend starting with this procedure and going from there! The more you use and learn about the program, the more you can achieve with email marketing!  

Open and click rates

Unlike your regular inbox, MailChimp tracks who opened and who clicked on the links provided in your emails. This can be a super powerful tool because it lets you know who’s interacting with what content. It allows you to give customers who aren’t opening your emails or haven’t clicked on the link to your online store a little nudge to get going. Notice someone is ignoring your emails? Maybe shoot them a call to remind them orders are due soon.

Further, it also lets you gauge which email campaigns work the best. Maybe you try one email campaign with one title versus another. The higher open rate suggests that the title works well. Additionally, you try a campaign with more photographs of your farm versus photographs of the products. The click rate will tell you which photos engage your audience more. Tracking these two rates gives you a clear picture of how to structure your emails.These numbers are easily found under View Report in the campaigns section in the program.

To increase your sales, we suggest:

Play around with these rates. When you create your first email campaign, put half of your contacts in one list and the other half in a different list. Switch up the email title between campaigns and add different photographs. By doing this you are able to compare which content or wording works better! This may take a few tries, but it’s a great way to get feedback on your strategies.

That all sounds nice, but you want to make money, not spend it on tools. So, let’s talk price.

In their pricing, they have three different options:

  • free starting at $0/month,
  • grow starting at $10
  • and pro starting at $199/month.

The main differences between the options is the extra features you have access to and amount of contacts and emails/month you can use.

For a food business, I would recommend trying the free option – yes, free! This gives you the opportunity to test the service and see the results before committing to a monthly fee. Additionally, the free version gives you 2000 subscribers (contacts) and 12000 emails/month. That’s plenty – especially if you are just starting out with email campaigning. Also, the free version also still gives you access to their great features mentioned above like automation and templates. Additionally, if you’re a Local Line user, you can easily import your contacts from Local Line to MailChimp. Click this link to find out how to do this- it saves a lot of time from manually inputting!

Email campaigning strikes a great balance between the convenience of automation, while also maintaining a personal relationship between you and your customers. They are receiving specialized curated content right to their inboxes. Trust me, it will help you increase your sales! Also, if it’s free – you don’t have an excuse to not get started today!

4 Ways to Forecast Your Growth Properly

A common mistake we see amongst food suppliers looking to grow their businesses is inaccurately forecasting their costs and profits. Let’s end this today. Here are four ways to start accurately forecasting in your business:

Know your margins

This should be the first step in any business. Determine how much you need to break-even and how to make it a profit. Knowing these numbers will help you determine which sales channels you should target, what your quota should be, and when it’s the right time to offer other services such as delivery and discounts to your customers.

Set accurate delivery costs

Delivery can be a make or break it point in your business. Make sure you know exactly how much delivery costs per hour and how to calculate it accurately. If you’re guessing these costs, there is a high chance that you are losing money. To help you out, we created this post and a calculator that does this for you.

Determine your minimum order value

After you’ve determined your delivery costs, you have to set a minimum order value to offer delivery. You don’t want to lose money when offering a service to your customers – instead you should profit. This post outlines how to set this value along with a calculator. All you have to do is fill in the blanks!

The Power of Pricing

Pricing is an aspect of your business you should never neglect. Slight increasing in prices can have a great impact on your annual profits. For example, a price increase of 5% can increase profits by 6%! Do the math and figure out exactly how much you can increase your profits with slight price increases. Need help? Fill out the form below to get a copy of our Price Increase Calculator:

Get your numbers straight and start growing your business today! 


5 Tips for Getting More Customers Today

If you looking to expand your customer base, here are five tips for getting more customers:

Sell with Neighbours

If you only sell produce, that’s ok, but when trying to target new customers, creating more of a “one-stop-shop” for their local food needs will increase the likelihood that you get orders. Think of this as like your own online farmers’ market! Connect with other producers to set up co-selling and co-delivery with neighbours. This is a great way to share costs and increase sales. For more on how you can make this happen, here is an example of farmers in Northern Ontario who used Local Line to set this up.

Know Your Customers

The best way to get more customers is to know who you are selling to. One of the best ways we’ve seen suppliers increase their sales is selling and promoting at locations that play into a customer lifestyle. For example, many food suppliers live by the philosophy that food is linked to health and wellbeing, such as raising livestock in pastured conditions or using organic production methods. This philosophy resonates with their customer base – therefore selling at events or locations that are hubs for like-minded people will increase their likelihood for sale. Determine what type of customers need your products and understand their ways. Where do they shop? Where they do frequent? Determine this and meet them halfway. For example, we’ve had many pasture raised meat suppliers find success selling to independent gyms, crossfit and yoga studios.

Invest in Your Online Presence

Whether it’s investing time or money, it is essential to invest in your online presence. The future of local food is online. Being online has many benefits such as decreasing chance of lost orders, reaching more customers, and increasing the professionality of your business. Everyone is online, including your customers, therefore you should be too. If you have an online store and presence that is modern, easy to use and professional, not only will you see some immediate results, but you’ll thank yourself long term when your brand grows.

Create a Referral Program

This is a big one. Word of mouth is extremely important in the food industry. Your customer base is bound to have friends that would love your products too. You should be tapping into your existing customer network to generate new leads. So how do you ensure that customers will refer you to friends on your behalf? This post gives you 6 steps to creating your own referral program.

Referring a friend is a win-win for everyone. Your existing customer is rewarded for their loyalty by receiving a discounted price. Your new customer is learning about your business from the most trusted source of marketing: word of mouth. And, most importantly, your business just earned a new customer from an existing one!

Use a Variety of Marketing Platforms

In addition to using a referral program, use various different marketing platforms. Use social media to promote your brand and showcase your products. Instagram can be a great tool to show pictures of your farm, production and team for your customer base to get a sense of who is growing their food and what sets your production apart from the competition. Attend food shows and festivals to make connections within the industry and create relationships with chefs and retailers. Hang up promotional material at customer hotspots, such as gyms, farmers’ markets, local shops, etc. There are many different methods to promote your business. Using a variety will increase the likelihood the material reaches your audience.

What your customers want from their shopping experience!

Your customers are your business’ lifeline – therefore it’s your duty to give them what they want to ensure their loyalty. Getting to know who your customers are and what they want from their shopping experience is a recipe for success. So what do they want, and how are you going to give it to them?

After working with many food suppliers and their customer bases, here is what we found is important to many customers:

Customer reviews

As mentioned in various different articles, food is personal and word of mouth is a very, very powerful tool. People want to hear from others why they loved your products and why they picked you instead of another supplier. You have the power to give this information – provide customer reviews on your website, online store or social media platforms. In a study conducted by Bazaarvoice network, they found that review volume shows a positive correlation with increased orders – in other words, customer reviews work! In order to get this started, ask some of your customers if they would like to write a review for you.

Up to date and easy to use ordering software

Customers want an easy to use and modern online store to visit. Many food suppliers use out of date and cryptic ordering methods that it is harder on them and their customers. Give your customer base a uniform, beautiful online store that showcases your products and is simple to use! There is a higher chance of abandonment before purchase if your system is slow, ancient and/or confusing. Don’t let this be you.

Giving back to reliable customers

Customers want to be appreciated. Reward your customers that have bought from you for a long time. Offer discounts after they spend “x” dollars, free shipping if they purchase over a certain threshold, or store credit when referring a friend. All of these methods are a way to show those reliable customers that sticking with you was worth it!

Standing orders

A standing order in the food industry is an agreement or pre-purchase between supplier and customer to get a certain product every week or harvest over a season. Think of it like a subscription box with a farmer or food supplier, where on a recurring date you receive a package of fresh, local food to enjoy without having to think about placing a weekly order. This is a really nice option to have for customers, because it allows them to enjoy local food without having to take the hassle of continuously ordering. Additionally, standing orders can be really beneficial to you, because it ensures sales without having the stress of meeting a certain quota every week/month.

Deal with returned orders professionally

No business owner wants to deal with returned orders, however your customers want to know that if something does happen, there is a set return policy to resolve the situation. To get more information on how to set the best returned order practices, read this post.

Giving your customers what they want not only helps your customer base, but also helps your business.

Happy customers, happy business. 

Don’t leave your customers hanging – Standing Orders

As consumers, chefs and retailers, we love the idea of buying local because everyone knows that the local food industry supports community members, is grown by dedicated and hardworking individuals, and is often much better for us due to the use of holistic farming practices, but sometimes sourcing from the large industry seems a lot easier due to logistics and access. It’s simple –  it boils down to convenience.

At Local Line, we  make buying and selling local food easy and convenient. Our e-commerce platform provides a straightforward ordering mechanism for customers by offering services such as order and logistics management, customer communication and invoicing mechanisms for suppliers – all wrapped into one service. But we’re not done there!

This week we launched a new feature – standing orders.

A standing order is a purchase order covering a repeated delivery of goods in specified quantities, at specified prices, and according to a specified time schedule.  It is comparable to a subscription box where your customers can expect your products on the same time schedule. Standing orders are essential in food. Unlike buying clothes or other products, the relationship between food supplier and customer is continual. A standing order allows your customers to order once and continuously get your products week by week during a season.

Pre-booked sales for you, convenience for your customers.

Here are some additional benefits you can expect when you use our new standing order feature:

Save time on organizing orders

A great benefit of implementing standing orders is all that time you would save on managing your orders. If you’re a food supplier that offers a CSA program, weekly harvest box, or supply a restaurant or retailer with the same scheduled order, it’s hard to have to manage the same order every week. Standing orders allow you to automate the process and save time on tedious tasks such as order taking.

Produce to order

A standing order system allows you to pre-determine what needs to be produced. This allows you to predict what is needed and avoid under/over production. This reduces waste or lost customers due to insufficient inventory.

Create lasting relationships with customers

As mentioned previously, the relationship between buyer and supplier in the food industry is continual. Offering standing orders allow you to be able to create better partnerships with your customers and conveniently service them over a season.

Sound like something you could use? Try standing orders today with your Local Line membership for the low cost of $25/month. If you’re not yet using Local Line, click the button below to view a demo to see how Local Line can help your business.

How to set up the best online storefront

So you have an online store now!  Congrats and welcome to the world of selling online. Your online store is the first thing customers now see when purchasing from your business. Let’s make it great. Now that you have a storefront, it’s time to set it up to meet your needs. To help you get started, here are our best tips to get the best online storefront:

Catchy and consistent branding

The first step to setting up your online store is your branding. Your branding should match your product and business and should be easily identified in the market. Your online store is now the hub of your business therefore anything that you use here should be the same as what you use in marketing materials and social media. Check out this article for tips on branding.

Don’t neglect “About us”

This section of your online store allows you to tell your unique business story to current and future customers. Make it short and sweet, covering the philosophy behind your product and what sets it apart from the rest. Food is personal – so make sure to consider this when writing it. Include photographs of yourself, your team and your facilities. Always put a face to your brand – let your customers know who’s growing their food.

Photographs and more photographs!

In addition to the photographs in your About Us section, be sure to add high quality photos of your products. These photos are the only indication for new customers of what you sell and what they should expect when ordering. The more visual your product list is – the higher the chance that someone will order from you. Pictures tell a thousand words. Today, food photography has become an artform through Instagram. It’s all about the right lighting, good backgrounds and angles. This post will help you get those #instaworthy photos. Furthermore, add a banner and profile picture that will draw the eye and link with your business branding.

Think about your product names

After pictures, customers will be looking for your product titles. Be sure to keep them short and descriptive. Play into current food trends – for example if you grow organic produce, add organic in front of each product. This sounds more appealing and will help to drive sales. Same with terms such as Grass-Fed, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Artisan as customers are often looking for these buzzwords.

Easy URL

This one is simple, but can be forgotten! For your online store, be sure to use a URL that is relevant and catchy to your business. Don’t make it too long and always add the name of your business or a version of it. People should be easily able to remember it so that they can start typing it into their search bar themselves.

Don’t forget about logistics

Logistics and distribution is a huge factor for online stores. Be sure to have your delivery and pick up location schedule easily visible on your store – you don’t want your customers to have to search for it. The more logistics options you have, the better. However, this is entirely up to the capacity of your business. Remember – always update it if anything changes. The worst thing is when someone checks out and you no longer offer delivery to their area.

Take inspiration from success stories

If you’re feeling lost and don’t know where to start, take inspiration from others! Look at the leaders in your industry and see what’s working from them. If it works for them, why wouldn’t it work for you?

Having a great storefront isn’t a science. The main takeaway points is have a lot of visuals (the more the better) and add your personal touch. It shouldn’t look like you didn’t put a lot of thought into it. The appearance of your online store can be the make it or break it point in your business.