E-commerce for the food industry is unique to every other type of e-commerce. That’s because aside from normal e-commerce steps like inventory, packaging, shipping, and payment, food has additional steps that add complexity. Food is perishable, seasonal, price variable, and requires unique distribution. As a food business selling online, in order for you to be successful, you’ll need an online store that’s built to handle the complexity of your sales process. This makes it even more important to look at every food-focused e-commerce option available to you.
Let’s start by understanding the basics of Local Line’s e-commerce. Just like most other e-commerce programs, you get:
Your own online store to show products, pictures, and prices so that your customers can order online.
Your own store link and the ability to integrate your store right onto your existing website.
The ability to set up any kind of payment option, including payment on check out or assigning payment terms such as “30 days.”
The ability to track product inventory levels.
Above and beyond your basic e-commerce features, here’s what else Local Line offers that will help you succeed:
Multiple Pricing Categories:
For most businesses selling online, you’ll have one product list and one price list. As a food business, your product list is more complex. Your products are in a constant state of flux and your pricing differs by customer type. That’s why we enable you to set up different product catalogs for different customers.
Creating your catalogs is simple. Once your products are uploaded into your store, you can create a new catalog and customize product availability and price. Add products, remove products, whatever enables you to create an accurate catalog for your customers!
When you have different catalogs, you’ll likely want some protected with passwords so that only the correct customers can access them. In other cases, you’ll want to create a public catalog so that any customer can view product availability and place an order. Your Local Line account can easily accommodate both!
Delivery & Pickup Schedules:
There are three ways a customer can get your product: (1) You deliver it, (2) A distributor delivers it, or (3) The customer picks it up. Our platform enables you to set up all three.
– When you set up your Local Line account you’re able to upload your existing delivery schedule. This includes the cities you deliver to, minimum orders, delivery fees, and order cut off times.
If you’re opening your online store to markets you don’t currently deliver to, you can connect with one of Local Line’s preferred distribution partners and create a distribution agreement. You can even add them to your account so that they are notified when you receive orders that need shipping!
Lastly, set a pickup location to either your business location or aggregated pickup sites along your delivery routes. This enables customers outside of your delivery areas to engage with your products and makes deliveries more economical in those hard to justify locations.
You may experience seasonality in your business. Thankfully your Local Line store has you covered. When entering a product you can turn on a start and end date. Once you’ve set your availability dates your store will automatically make the product visible when it’s available and automatically remove it once it’s out of season. You officially have one less thing to worry about! Now get back out there and get harvesting!
Most e-commerce programs let you upload your inventory. That’s cool, but we know once you upload your inventory you have about 967 other things on your to-do list for the day. As customers submit their orders online, your inventory levels are going down and will eventually hit zero. It’s unpleasant for a customer to have to view a product with only 1 unit in inventory. That’s why when you’re inputting your inventory you can set inventory guards. Inventory guards let you set an amount for which you want to be notified that you’re starting to get low. For example, let’s say I have 100 bags of carrots as my inventory, if you enter in 20 as your inventory guard, you’ll receive an email as soon as that product inventory hit’s 20 or less. Time to restock!
If you get dizzy just thinking about how frequently your product list changes, then you need to be taking advantage of our automated catalog emails. One of the benefits to a great online store is that it makes your entire product catalog available to view, and as a result, customers are less likely to get stuck in the “same as last week” pattern. As your inventory levels and products change throughout the week, you can set up an automated schedule to be sending your updated catalogs to your customers.
For example, if most of our customers order on Tuesday for Wednesday delivery, we could send out the weekly updated catalog at 7:00 AM every Monday morning. Customers would get your product list at the top of their inbox, making it easier see what you have to offer and submit their orders.
Happy customers are what make’s a business tick. It’s the most important part of what you do, so you should have a way to track the health of each relationship you value so dearly. Your Local Line Customers tab tracks last order dates, average orders, product views, and can even help you identify strong upsell opportunities. All of this data is available 24/7, 365 on your mobile device so that you always have it while out on the road visiting customers.
One of our customers once told us, “I love Local Line because the tool works for me, I don’t work for the tool”. We couldn’t agree more, and we’ve modeled every feature after this philosophy and we know that once you get your account set up and running, it’ll feel like your manual work has been put on auto-pilot while you spend more time focused on the important things.
Have we missed anything? We always want to hear from customers on what we can be doing to improve their businesses. If you have a suggestion for us, reach out.
If you’d like a free trial to set up your store and enable online sales for your business you can sign up here.
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