Paid Work Helping Kent Farmers’ Markets Go Online        

This post is written by Bob Taylor of Kent Farmers’ Market Association.  Thanks Bob.

When many rural village shops closed, Farmers Markets plugged the food outlet gap. Many have now also become the hub of these rural communities. Manned by volunteers, they use the rental received from producers to earn funds to help the local community (e.g. Village Hall maintenance, local charities etc.). In addition, they offer a unique outlet for small local food producers.

In Kent, we formed the Kent Farmers Market Association ten years ago to enable markets to co-operating together, to improve standards, exchange ideas and to enhance the profile of farmers markets in the eyes of the shopping public. A web site www.kfma.org.uk was created which has become a one stop shop to inform the shopping public about day and times markets are open and special events.

However, many of these small rural markets and producers are suffering both from the economic decline and the growth of ‘on-line shopping’. If we continue to trade as we do now some will fail which will have a major impact on the livelihood on many of the small local food producers who attend these markets and the rural community hubs will be lost.

 

OUR SOLUTION

To help our markets and producers survive, Kent Farmers Market Association is introducing an on line ‘CLICK AND COLLECT system’, comprising on line purchasing with customers picking up their orders at convenient local locations (e.g. schools, restaurants, pubs etc.) in the afternoon or evening. This will enable these small local producers to offer their produce to new shopper groups whilst enabling the market and community hub to continue.

We are in the process of obtaining funds to not only implement a pilot Open Food Network system but to help us install the whole system including marketing,  training of producers, market helpers, collection points, organising packaging, training the market manager and finishing up with an approach that can be easily copied to install in other locations.

We see this approach offers a way for small local producers to benefit from sharing both marketing expertise and technology they could not create themselves and to help them grow their businesses both at markets and at home.  Our aim is to ‘help us sustain these markets in rural communities and ensure the livelihood of many small local producers’.

We are looking for someone with experience in installing such a system to lead and manage our project. We already have in place a food photographer and a designer (whose role is to create design templates for both screen display and marketing material) who will provide much of the ‘leg work’.

We are in the process of applying for a grant to pay for such our Project manager and once we get the go ahead (hopefully February next year) we would like to start as quickly as possible.

See job description below.  This role will be paid £200 per day plus expenses.  Contact Bob Taylor Kent Farmers Market Association bob@kfma.org.uk together with a short summary of your experience.

 

Role of the Project Consultant

To understand the functions of all aspects of the chosen system and logistics in order to advise all participants and, based on the experiences learnt during the pilot, to determine the economic envelope which will satisfy producers customers and markets alike. To ensure that there are sufficient skills and knowledge in the market to enable them to continue to trade and enhance the use of the system. To create the approach to be followed by other markets which will follow suit 

System Development

          To help with the overall design and branding of the system in order to ensure acceptance by all parties (i.e. customers, producers and market managers).

          To determine main customer/producer problems and how to solve them within a specified time frame.

Computer system

          To help finalise and specify missing requirements of the computer system 

          To test out the computer system, especially customer payments and producer reconciliation and payment methods.

          Define the easiest navigation approach for customers and producers (esp. food categories)

          Review and specify procedures to be followed by customers in terms they will understand and incorporate them in the computer system (include SMS text links)

          Determine how to ensure all images are up to date (and taken off as well as added on)

 

Testing

          Determine the equipment required by each producer to receive and print the information and ensure they understand the operation

          Test the broadband of each producer (especially as most of them will be very rural)

 

Procedures

          To determine and specify (in terms that all will understand) the procedures to be followed by Manager, producers, central organisers and collect locations including how to solve operational problems within a specified time frame

          Determine the additional costs of running the overall system in order to determine the how to finalise additional customer 

Customer follow up

          To develop an imaginative approach to remind customers and potential customers about our on-line shop and pick up locations to ensure they shop with us continually using social media etc.

          To create a system to follow up complaints and reasons why customers do not continue with orders.

          Continually compare our approach with others selling on-line food and to cost out how to optimise our approach to on line selling.

Packaging

          To determine with the producer the type of packaging required by item category taking into optimal recycling, minimising of carbon footprint and environment.

          Determine the volume of each item of packaging required per producer, per item category for a 6 month period and cost

          Ensure conformance to environmental and hygiene standards

∙          Determine best practice for bringing customer orders together   

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