Multi-Farm Pre-Orders – OFN Setup Process

The Prom Coast Food Collective is a group of farmers who are using a unique model to collectively market their produce. Head to Learn to read more about the strengths of this model, and it’s being used by the Prom Coast Food Collective in Victoria, Australia. This page details how they setup this model on the OFN and also some of the ongoing steps to administering their ordering system.

How does the model work?

Each month the Collective opens their online shop on the OFN which stocks produce from over 20 producers, encompassing an impressive range of produce, from dairy, to household cleaning products, meat and vegetables. Customers have 2 weeks to browse the shop and place their order, which they won’t collect until the collection date. The collective takes payment via bank transfer. They could also have used an automated tool like Paypal, however these carry fees.

At the close of the ordering period, the shop closes and the group’s coordinator begins the task of administering the orders and payments. This involves downloading a report from OFN listing all order placed. The coordinator will check that bank transfers have been received from customers for each order placed. Once this has been confirmed, they will send each producer a list of the items that have been ordered from them, as well as transfer them the total value of sales they made. In the Prom Coast’s case, they have a $5 fee attached to each order, which covers some collective costs, such as this administration time.

Once producers receive their order totals list from the coordinator, they start to prepare the produce for each customer. This may involve processing meat, harvesting vegetables, or bagging and labelling preserves. On a Sunday morning, one week after the shop closed and stopped accepting orders, all of the producers and customers converge at one of the farms. Customers will walk from producer to producer and collect the items they had pre-ordered. Producers will have the goods ready for each customer. Because orders are pre-paid, no money needs to changes hands on the day. Note, that alcohol sales cannot be pre-paid due to liquor licensing, so must be purchased on the day.

Prom pick up day

After the collection day, the cycle repeats again. The first step for producers is to login to their OFN profiles and to update the availability and pricing of their products for the next month’s orders. Once they’ve had time to do this, the coordinator can open the shop and start receiving orders again.

What’s the process for setting this up in OFN?

Setting up this model requires firstly setting up a Hub Shop for the collective. Secondly, profiles need to be created for all participating producers. These steps, as well as configuration options are described below.

1) Setting up the Hub Shop

A ‘hub’ profile needs to be created for the Collective.

The Hub Setup Guide walks through the steps to get this setup. Note that you won’t be able to complete step 5, connecting with your suppliers, until your supplying producers have created their profiles and products (see section below).

When you setup the Hub, you will need to define how you’ll take payment, how often you’ll open your shop for orders, and whether there’ll be a fee or markup, so have a think through some of these things before getting started.

2) Setting up producer profiles

There are two ways to setup the producer profiles, depending on how much control the central coordinator wants to maintain, and how much time they have to setup the profiles.

Low Coordinator Involvement Option

One of the strengths of this model is that the role of the coordinator can be kept to a minimum. With this option, the coordinator will email all producers who are participating in the group, with instructions about how to setup their OFN profile, and they will do this themselves. Producers will get familiar with the OFN during this setup task, making them more confident updating their products and profile when the hub is up and running as well.

Instructions

Producers can follow steps 1-5 in the Producer Setup Guide. This will walk them through setting up their profile and adding in their product range.

Once producers have done this they need to grant the hub permission to stock their products in the collective shop.  To do this they should go to Enterprise > Enterprise Relationships.

Granting permissionHere they can grant permission from their profile (the left hand dropdown), to the hub’s profile (the right hand dropdown). They should grant permission ‘to add to order cycle’, which lets the coordinator add their products to the collective shop (as above).

High Coordinator Involvement Option

In the case where the coordinator wants to have more control or where they want to take responsibility for the majority of administration tasks, they can create profiles for their producers and be the ‘owners’ of the profiles. This will mean that when the coordinator logs in, they can see and edit all producer profiles, including their ‘about us’ text, photos and their product list. This gives the coordinator control to setup profiles in a visually appealing way, which can be important from a marketing perspective.

The coordinator will need to contact producers, and get a list of products from each of them, and then add their product range into the system. Again, they’ll have more control over making sure product look complete, with images and descriptions. This option can be necessary for producers who are not tech savvy and would struggle to be involved otherwise. It’s worth noting that a hub can choose to setup half of the profiles in a ‘low involvement’ fashion, and just setup some profiles on behalf of certain producers who need assistance.

Instructions for creating profiles on behalf of producers can be found here, in part 1.

What are the ongoing processes to run this kind of model?

Updating products each cycle

Before each order cycle, the product availability and prices for each producer need to be updated. If the coordinator owns the producer profiles, they’ll need to contact each producer, get a list of any changes to product prices and availability, and update this in the OFN. If the coordinator has taken the ‘low involvement’ route, producers will need to take responsibility for updating their product information themselves.

Below are instructions for how producers can update products before an order cycle:

Each cycle there are 3 things to update before the shop opens:

1) Mark any products that are unavailable with a zero in the ‘on hand’ field.

2) For products that will be available in the coming week, do one of the following:

i) Either enter the amount that you have available in the ‘on hand’ field next to the product.

ii) or, if you have an inexhaustible amount of a product available, select the ‘on demand’ tick box that corresponds with that product.

3) Update the prices

See here for details about updating products.

Once all producer have done this, the coordinator creates an OC and selects all products for all  producers. This will put all available products into the shop at the correct prices, with the correct stock levels.

Creating an Order Cycle

It’s the coordinator’s role to make sure the order cycle is setup correctly. This involves setting the opening and closing dates, and selecting which producers are involved for that order cycle.

A way to streamline this process is to duplicate the previous Order Cycle and then just make smaller amendments.

Downloading Sales Reports at the close of the Order Cycle

The coordinator will need to pass information to each producer, telling them what has been ordered from them, and by whom. They also need to forward sales funds to each producer according to the sales they made. They can use the OFN’s reports to help with this.

The order cycle customer totals report lists each customer’s order. When filtered by producer, it gives each producer a list of which items were ordered from them and by which customer. Tallying up the total value of these goods also tells the coordinator how much to transfer to the producer.

Refunds

The collective should be sure to define what the refunds policy is. To reduce administration time, the hub may chose not to allow refunds. Or if they do allow refunds, you need to clarify which party is responsible for this. E.g. before the collective has paid producer’s for their orders, it would be the collective’s responsibility to administer refunds. Refunds requested after funds have been transferred to producers, or after the collection date, should go through producers for example.

Features in the pipeline:

  • Splitting payments between farmers automatically (COMING SOON)
  • Granting discounts to certain customers such as members or volunteers (COMING SOON).
  • Creating recurring orders or subscriptions for customers (COMING SOON)
Ask us about embedding your Multi-Farm shopfront into a website.