Producer FAQs

The OFN functions as a directory, advertising platform, and an online marketplace. People can choose which functionalities of the OFN they want to use, according to their needs.

  1. A Profile.

A profile on the OFN is the simplest option, and offers a way for producers to market themselves. The profile can be used to promote your products and services, share your story and provide contact details. A profile makes you visible and contactable to customers and other enterprises who might wish to trade with you. Producers with a profile can also add products, which hub enterprises can then stock in their stores.

  1. A Shopfront

An OFN shop, is like a profile, but it also includes all the functions needed for producers to sell directly to customers online. This includes the online shopfront with full checkout capabilities as well as behind the scenes tools to aid in administration, such as reporting of payments and inventory. The OFN is a network, so it allows shops to be connected with other shops. This way a producer can be stocking their products in their own independent store, as well as through a number of hub shops.

The OFN can help farmers access a greater diversity of markets. This can be through direct sales, or through intermediary hubs or retailers, who perform the sales and logistics functions. The OFN enables transparency in the supply chain. Because all food traded on the OFN must be linked to the farmer who produced it, customers can see where their food originated from and how it was produced. In OFN shopfronts, the pricing is also transparent, so customers can see what cut of the sale price went to the producer. Our ultimate goal is fair price to farmers and affordable, good food for eaters.

We think the OFN is pretty great, and unique to other options out there!

  • Networked- The OFN differs from private online shops in that they can be networked with other enterprises. Producers have the option of selling through their own, independently run store, but they can also choose to sell through another enterprise. Food hubs stock the produce of multiple producers and offer them more exposure and greater market access than they can achieve on their own.
  • Exposure- The OFN has a directory functionality, so customers landing on our homepage may be driven to your store if your offerings match their search terms, or if you’re located close by to them. The OFN is a centralised place for people looking to access great, local produce, giving participating producers exposure to a wider customer base.
  • Food enterprise specific- The OFN’s shopfront capabilities are also designed especially for food enterprises, so it saves you from having to develop your own software from scratch (which can be a lengthy and costly process, trust us!).
  • Flexible- The OFN is flexible in accommodating all kinds of shipping/collection and payment methods. Some online store offerings for producers are restricted in the kinds of shipping and payment methods that can be accepted (for example, limited strictly to postage).
  • Room to grow- Producers can start with a profile, and easily build up to start selling to others, opening their own online store and becoming a supplier to multiple enterprises. Once you have a profile, you can easily open your own store, and link with other stores, something that most software options cannot offer.
  • We have soul– The OFN is a social enterprise, which is owned by all of us. It’s non-profit and continuously working to facilitate improvements to our food system. All revenues are reinvested back into the software, so it can be more useful to more people. So you can feel great about being part of the OFN!

Producers can create a professional and affordable online shop on the OFN, and begin trading direct with customers. An online store is simple to set up, taking just a few hours (check out the set-up guide). As well as the shopfront, an online shop also comes with handy tools which streamline the administration side of operating an online store. Click here for a full feature list.

An OFN online store is a good addition for producers who are already doing direct sales through farmer’s markets. The online store enables customers to order in advance, for a quick pick up at the market, and to access your products outside of market times. Some producers also find that the online store is preferable for hospitality customers who cannot attend markets.

The OFN aims to facilitate producers and hubs working together and forming networks of food movement and trade. We encourage producers to search for hubs in their area (on the OFN map) who could be compatible trading partners (check out their profiles). However, the OFN doesn’t play an active role in partnering producers and hubs.

To supply a hub, the producer must have a profile on the OFN and add their products to that profile. They must also make contact with the hub they wish to supply to discuss the agreement. If the hub is willing to stock the products, you can grant the hub permission to stock your products in the OFN E2E permissions. The hub can then add your products to their OFN shop front and start selling them!

You can create a profile on the OFN which links to your existing store. This will raise the visibility of your farm and allows you to connect with the audience on the OFN.

Check out our feature list page, which describes the full functionalities of an OFN shopfront. Our functions and pricing are competitive, so perhaps you’d consider switching to an OFN store, and being part of the OFN movement.

Producers with an OFN profile can add products, which hubs can then sell through their OFN shopfronts. If you have irregular surplus stock, you can talk to hubs to arrange for them to stock your produce when you have it on hand.

Yes! With an online store, customers can place their order for your veggie box online. This makes it easier for the customer, and also for you. The reporting functionality of the OFN makes the administration tasks of running a store straightforward, by helping you to track orders, payment and inventory. You can easily view reports summarising the total orders, individual orders and the payment status of each order.

There are a number of potential paths you could take:

  1. Each farmer within the farmers market can establish their own profile and online shop on the OFN. The farmers market’s website could then promote links to these independently run shops.
  2. The farmer’s markets could create a group page on the OFN. This is an umbrella profile, which can house the profiles and stores of member producers. With a unique URL and landing page, this group site allows for collective marketing and promotions.
  3. Farmer’s market groups who are willing to cooperate and work together can establish a hub. This hub has a single shopfront offering the entire product range of participating producers. Finding a way to coordinate the logistics of incoming and outgoing products can require some creative thinking, but using the farmer’s market days as a chance to aggregate and pack orders is one simple option.

An online store allows producers to sell their produce to customers and collect payment via a number of options. The OFN doesn’t dictate a payment method, and you can use any arrangement that works for you. Current payment options which are integrated into the checkout process include Paypal, Pin Payments and EFTPOS (through a payment gateway). Enterprises can also use manual methods including invoicing, cash on collection and direct deposit.

Yes, OFN store operators will receive an email each time an order is placed. Additionally, a number of different reports regarding sales are downloadable from your store. This includes reports on unique orders, reports summarising a collection of orders, reports on inventory levels and  customer relationship management reports. Check out our set-up guide for more info on reports.

The OFN is operational in Australia and the UK. We have partner organisations getting local OFN’s set-up in Norway, South Africa, Germany, France, Canada, India and Brazil. We’re always looking for likeminded and capable international partner organisations to help spread the OFN to more users around the world. If you’re a producer, talk to your local food movement about the OFN to see if it could be a solution for producers in your region.

Yes, you can select the order that each category of food is displayed in your shop, then within each category the products are displayed alphabetically. For instance, if Meat and Fish are your most important products, you can select to have them show up first, with your secondary Oil and Spreads products below. You can do this in  your profile settings, under ‘shopfront category ordering’.

Here’s a few things to check:

  • Has the product been added to the order cycle? Open the order cycle and double check that all tick boxes next to your products have been selected.
  • Is there enough ‘on hand’ inventory? If the ‘on hand’ inventory value is zero for a product, then it will no longer appear in your store. If you have products which are always ‘on hand’, you can check the ‘on demand’ box corresponding to that product- then it will never be out of stock.
  • Is the product on your Inventory Hidden list?

Yes, you can restrict access to your shop to approved customers only. Checkout instructions here.

The filter tool on the producer listing page, allows customers to search for producers of certain product categories (ie Fruit, or Meat). The filter tool works by looking at the products that are assigned to each producer’s profile. If a producer has an online shop, their products will already be in the system. But if you only have a profile, this filter tool won’t capture you, until you add some dummy products. Instructions for doing this can be found here. Once you have dummy products set up for the product categories that you produce, you’ll be captured by this filter tool.

There is the option of adding a ‘shopfront message’ to your shop. This message is clearly visible to customers when they visit your shop and you can add as much or as little detail here as you like. Instructions for inserting a ‘shopfront message’ can be found here.

OFN doesn’t currently have the option of blocking checkout until a customer’s order reaches a defined threshold. An alternative option is to add a shipping fee with the ‘price sac’ fee calculator. This calculator will apply one fee value if the total is below a given level, and another fee value (possibly $0) if the order is over that level. See here.