Offering your market's local food to customers online is a convenient—and crucial—way to get 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.
Here's how to launch and promote your market's online store in less than three days:
Day 1: Launch Your Online Market
Now is the time to set up your online farmers market. Before anything else, get your storefront ready! You are now switching from a 1-2 day a week market to a 24/7 market (even if you only deliver once per week)
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.
Set Up Your Storefront
Create your account at localline.ca/signup and click Start an Online Market. 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!
- Click the camera under the Cover Photo heading to upload a cover photo, recommended 1280 x 300 px for best results. Simply click the photo again to replace it.
- Upload a Profile Photo in the same manner, recommended 200 x 200 px for best results.
- Fill in your business information (contact information, shipping and/or billing addresses, etc.).
- Tell customers about your business in the About Us section. Describe what you sell, where you’re located, what makes your market unique, and why they should buy from you.
Here's a great About Us example from our friends at Vibrant Farms:
Ensure to click the Save Changes button at the bottom right when finished setting up your storefront.
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.
- Click on the camera icon, select photo, click "Open," and click the checkmark (top right of the photo to save selection)
- To remove a photo, click the 'x' to the right of the photo
- Photo ideas: your team, suppliers, property/facility, products, etc.
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!
Get Your Suppliers Online
Now that you’ve created a storefront, you need to get your suppliers online. This process is simple, but first: all suppliers at your market need to get their own Local Line supplier accounts. They can get started with this here by clicking on ‘For Sellers.’
Add Suppliers to Your Market
To add suppliers to your market, make use of our ‘Discover’ tab in the top bar of your Local Line homepage. The discover tab allows you to find suppliers close to you geographically using your market’s address. Use the search function to find your suppliers and add them to your store. Click ‘Request Address’ and an invitation will be sent to the suppliers via email.
Be sure to notify your suppliers to accept their notification, which can be found under ‘Requests’ in the Customers tab. Once a supplier has accepted your invitation, they will become visible in your supplier list. You can always change their visibility in the settings.
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: Promoting Your Online Market
Day 2 is for marketing! Now that your market 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:
- Social media
- Word of mouth
Email Your Customers
As a market, 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 market.
Get on Social
Social media is the next place you need to start promoting your new online market. Create updates on all current social media channels to inform your customers about the recent switch.
Here are five ways to leverage your social media channels and reach your audience:
1. The power of hashtags
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 suppliers’ delivery cities in as many hashtags as possible (not just the city your market is located in). Be as specific as possible and consider what people in your area might be searching for.
2. Share your posts to other platforms
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.
3. Include calls-to-action
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:
- Click the link in our bio to access our online store and buy online
- We deliver to your door on Tuesdays and Thursdays! Place your order today at [YOUR URL HERE]. Link in bio!
- Tag a friend who could use
- DM us to let us know if there’s someone in your community who would benefit from home delivery. If you know of someone elderly or unable to step outside their house, we’d love to reach out and help.
4. Be visual and transparent
Share as many supplier product photos as possible. Because consumers cannot see, touch, or feel products, it’s crucial that you showcase what it is available. Use videos, 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 the photos. Ask suppliers to share some photos and videos of their operations.
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.
5. Update your Instagram bio and Facebook page
Update your Instagram bio to inform current and future customers that you are still up and running (and so are your suppliers)! 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! Your Saturday morning market - now from home! Always be sure to include the link 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:
- Login to your Facebook admin site
- Hover over the blue button [could read "Shop Now" "Send Message" "Call Now"]
- Click the Edit button
- Click Shop
- Shop Now
- Website Link
- Copy and paste your Local Line store URL
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
Word of mouth is extremely powerful. Leverage this by implementing tools to promote word of mouth amongst customers.
Ask your audience to share
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 competition
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.
Day 3: Start Selling
It’s go time! You’ve set up your store, added your suppliers, and have been marketing your online market—you’re ready to start selling.
As a market manager, we know it is essential to continue to stay on top of your day-to-day operations, even if it looks a little differently now. Be sure to keep communication lines open with your suppliers and continue to promote your new online store. As always, if you have any questions about getting started, the Local Line team is here to support you!
Take your market online today with a free Local Line trial.
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.
Nina Galle is Local Line's Content Marketer, creating blog posts, templates, free tools, and other helpful resources for local food suppliers.