Offering your products to customers online is a convenient—and crucial—way to get fresh, local food into the hands of your community during these difficult and uncertain times. Ensure your community has continued, easy access to healthy, local food and necessities with an online store!
Here's how to launch and promote your farm's online store in less than three days:
Now is the time to set up your online store.
Before anything else, get your storefront ready! Day 1 is all about getting organized. You want to set up your store for success, so this means creating supplier profiles and organizing delivery schedules. Be sure to get everything organized first before you launch.
Create your account at localline.ca/signup and click Start Trial under For Sellers. It'll look like this:
Now that you have an account, your next step is to set up your online store branding. Your branding should match your product and existing market, and should be instantly recognizable as yours!
Here's a great About Us example from our friends at Vibrant Farms:
Click the Save Changes button at the bottom right when finished!
This will show you what your online store looks like to visiting customers. When viewing your store, it’ll open in a new tab. You can simply close it when done reviewing.
Here you will find and create your unique online store URL. Once you're ready, share this unique URL with your customers so they can easily place orders! A good rule of thumb is to use your market name: localline.ca/your-market.
Add photos to your store that add to your story and your brand as a whole.
Include photos such as your team, your process, your farm and your products. Without the opportunity for customers to see, experience, touch and smell your products.
When creating your online store, be sure to fill out as much information as possible so your customers can learn about your business and what you offer. Ensure to Save where applicable.
Also, be sure to click View Store frequently to check your work and see what your store looks like from a customer perspective!
When creating your online store, be sure to fill out as much information as possible so your customers can learn about your business and what you offer. This includes sections like Ensure to 'Save' where applicable.
Also, be sure to click 'View Store' frequently to check your work and see what your store looks like from a customer perspective!
To start selling, you need to add your products to your online store. On Local Line, there are two ways to upload: individually or in bulk.
Note: Any upload issues will be explained in a window, in this case you would make changes to the template file from desktop, save and re-upload.
Your product list now acts as your main selling tool. As your customers are no longer able to see, touch, or feel products, it’s crucial to add images and descriptions to your product listings. The more information your customers have, the better!
Local Line allows you to track your inventory in real-time. We offer both Basic Inventory and Advanced Inventory. The steps below outline Basic Inventory. Click here to learn more about Advanced Inventory.
You are also able to update your availability of products. Seasonality will allow you to make certain products only available for specific seasons or time frames. You can enter this information with the calendar picker.
Visibility will allow you to manually remove products from your available products. This can be done by switching the toggle to “Off.”
It will remain in the catalogs you've added it to, but will not be visible to customers or available for purchase. If turned off, this item will be visible to you and grey in colour.
Catalogs enable you to organize products and privately set product prices, pack sizes and availability to the unique needs of your customers. Once you have added your products, you must assign products to a catalog to have them display on your storefront. To assign products to catalogs:
After you’ve assigned products to different catalogs, you can create a catalog schedule! This will allow you to save time and remind customers to place orders by creating automated emails. No more emailing 100s of customers individually!
To make the most of your catalog schedule, consider:
After you’ve set up your store and added all of your suppliers, your store is ready to launch! You can do this by clicking the Launch button on the left side of your home page/dashboard. This allows your customers to view your online market.
Day 2 is for marketing! Now that your farm has moved online, it is important to let your customers know. Use this opportunity to attract new customers. You should reach your customers in all of your usual channels, such as:
As a farm, you have the ability to be able to add customers to the platform to keep them updated. If you have customer email addresses already, consider sending them an email to notify them of the recent switch online:
Hi [CUSTOMERS' NAME],
As you know, at [Your Business Name] customer service is our number one priority. We work hard to provide the best products and the best service for you. To continue to elevate our service offering, we will be introducing our own online ordering program, customized for you. It will contain your order history and a real-time list of all of our products and inventory.
The program works on all desktop computers as well as smartphones. Through this program, you’ll always know what we have available and never be more than a couple clicks away from an order! If you would like to submit your next order with us online, here’s what happens next:
- Click this email link [Your store link/URL here] to register your account. It takes 2 minutes.
- Once you register, you’ll be taken into our online store to submit your first order.
- When reordering in the future, our store can be found at [YOUR STORE LINK].
If you have any questions, I’m reachable at [PHONE NUMBER]. We look forward to continuing to service and grow with you.
Continue to update your customers regularly via email on changes in your delivery schedules, suppliers, and any other changes to your farm's online store.
Social media is the next place you need to start promoting your new online store. Create updates on all current social media channels to inform your customers about the recent switch.
Use hashtags and geotags to reach others who are also searching for what you’re posting, in the geographic areas you’re tagging. Hashtags ensure that your content is seen by as many eyes as possible, not just your own audience. Here are some examples for inspiration:
Use your delivery cities in as many hashtags as possible (not just the city your business is located in). Be as specific as possible and consider what people in your area might be searching for.
Instagram lets you post across all other channels. Take advantage of Instagram’s share feature and publish your Instagram posts to Facebook and Twitter, if applicable.
You may not have the extra time right now to be focusing on a social strategy or keeping up across all platforms, so this will ensure you’re still maintaining a presence (and sharing the same message) on every channel.
Don’t forget to include calls-to-action on every single post! Because you can’t sell directly on Instagram, it is crucial that your calls-to-action encourage followers and buyers to take that extra step of your online store.
Here are some examples:
Share as many product photos as possible. Because consumers cannot see, touch, or feel products, it’s crucial that you showcase what is available. Use videos and photo posts—and don’t forget Instagram and Facebook stories!
In addition to product photos, let your audience in your behind-the-scenes and show the process behind your products. Breaking it down communicates not only the hard work that goes into what’s being sold but highlights that your customers know where their food is coming from. They’re trusting the safety measures you’re taking with your product.
Update your Instagram bio to inform current and future customers that you are still up and running! Your bio is one giant call-to-action, so use it to your advantage.
Consider text such as Shop fresh, local food from the comfort of your home. Place your order through our online store! Always be sure to include the link in your bio to your online store.
Also, remember to link your new online store to the market’s Facebook page by adding a shop now button. This will make your online store even more visible to visitors. Here’s how:
Make sure to announce your Shop Now button on Facebook and repost so followers know it's there. You should also include it in every post!
Word of mouth is extremely powerful. Leverage this by implementing tools to promote word of mouth amongst customers.
Ask your audience to share your info or posts with their friends and family. It helps everyone get involved. If they’re happy with your products and service, we’re sure they’d be happy to do so!
Create a “best picture” contest! Ask your customers to share their #socialdistancing cooking photos or their weekly food orders and share them on your social media channels. This will increase social proof, and help spread the word that you are up and running! Maybe even offer a discount or special offer to customers that are most creative.
Consider implementing a referral program among customers. Referrals are a great way to promote word of mouth. The most trusted reviews are those that come from a friend. You should be tapping into your existing customer network to get new customers. If you want to get started with a referral program, check out this blog post.
It’s go time! You’ve set up your account, added your products, and have been marketing your online store—you’re ready to start selling.
As always, if you have any questions about getting started, the Local Line team is here to support you!
Local Line is the best way for your food business to keep operating and selling during COVID-19. Use Local Line to set up an online store and offer home delivery to your customers.