Buying Groups

What is a buying group?

A buying group is a group of customers who places a bulk order with an OFN hub. After the hub delivers the bulk order, the buying group takes responsibility for packing and distributing the individual orders among the group’s members. This might take place in someone’s back shed, or local community space. Buying groups are often not for profit and run by members. By ordering in bulk, and taking on some of the packing and distribution tasks, members of a buying group can access great produce at lower prices.

The diagram below shows the role that buying groups can play in a supply chain. Firstly, they aggregate their members’ orders to place a bulk order with the hub, then when the bulk delivery of products arrives from the hub, they distribute the individual orders among their members.

Buying group in OFN supply chain

How can buying groups use the OFN?

The OFN streamlines the administration activities of buying groups, reducing the amount of time required to process orders, create invoices and conduct packing and logistics. Importantly, hubs and buying groups can coordinate through the OFN, making the processes more efficient for both parties. Here is an overview of some of the features buying groups can use within the the OFN:

  • An online shopfront style ordering platform to replace fiddly and troublesome email or spreadsheet ordering. The shopfront includes online payment options such as Paypal.
  • Buying groups can connect with their supplying hub to synchronize their shopfronts. The buying group’s shopfront can be automatically stocked with the products available in the hub that week. When customers place orders in the buying group’s shop, they can be  automatically accumulated into a bulk order, visible to the hub.
  • Orders can be easily adjusted online when certain products are under supplied or oversupplied, reducing the hassle of correcting customers invoices and packing sheets.
  • The OFN’s automated reporting functions make the task of tracking payment from customers and to your supplying hub straightforward.

How do I set up a buying group on the OFN?

A buying group can be created and administered by 1) an existing hub; or 2) by an independent buying group. Follow the corresponding instructions below.

1) I’m a hub creating a buying group.

If you are a hub and are creating a buying group, you will need to create a new enterprise for your buying group. Note: You will need to email us at to request permission to create a new enterprise- this is a spam prevention measure.

Once you have our permission, when you click on Enterprises in the horizontal blue menu, you will see a button to + Add Enterprise. Click this and it will take you to the new enterprise form.

Name: Give your buying group a unique name.

Primary Producer?: A buying group is not a primary producer.

As you will be administering the buying group, many of the contact details will be the same as for your hub.

Click Create to finish the process.

Next you will need to select the Hub Shop package for the buying group. This will enable the buying group to host a unique shopfront.

2) I’m an independent buying group

If your buying group will not be supplied by a hub that is on the OFN, you will not be classified as a buying group, but a hub, and should consult the hub set up guide. If your buying group will be supplied by a hub that is on the OFN, follow these instructions to get set-up.

You should follow the hub set up guide steps, 1-4. In step 2 you will need to select the ‘hub shop’ package. In place of step 5, refer to the buying group specific E2E examples. Because your buying group’s shopfront will be stocked by your supplying hub, you can skip step 6- adding products. Then continue on with steps 7-9.

Buying groups do not create their own order cycles. Instead they are included within their supplying hub’s order cycle as an outgoing distributor. The hub can select which products you will distribute, and this will dictate which products show up in your shopfront.

I’m a hub, how do I add my buying groups to my order cycle?

A buying group acts a as a distributor in your order cycle, seen in the Outgoing section. By adding a buying group as a distributor, you will generate a shopfront for that group, and this is where their customers will place orders (not in your hub’s shopfront). You can select to have all of your products available in your buying group’s shopfront, or select a certain range (some buying groups may only wish to buy your organic items etc). As customers from the buying group place orders in their shopfront, your reports will capture these orders.

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