To offer local goods and artisan goods through the help of eCommerce, online platforms are connecting consumers with producers. Take Florida’s Front Porch Pickings, which Owner Amie Keslar told PYMNTS in an interview is a “farm-to-table delivery service” that sends out produce and artisanal goods. The company has a two-fold mission: For one, Keslar said it aims to bring “good, clean, honest food to our customers” from Jacksonville to Deltona. At the same time, however, it aims to pay its farmers a good and fair price for the work they do and the produce they offer.
Consumers can start using the service by registering online and choosing a box. The company offers three different sized boxes — The Basic Box, The Better Box and The Big Box. Shoppers can then decide how often they would like them delivered. “We can deliver every other week or once a week,” Keslar said. She emails customers on Fridays to tell them what is in the box, and they can customize their shipments. If consumers don’t like Brussel sprouts, for instance, they can take those out of their deliveries. And if they just want coffee, tea or honey, they can have that as well.
The company makes farm runs on Tuesday, packs on Wednesday and then delivers on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday depending on where consumers live. Consumers can pay by credit, debit, or an automatic deduction from their bank accounts. When it comes to selections, Front Porch Pickings offers many items that are not in the grocery store. It also has various greens such as kale and sweet potato greens, which Kessler said “is not something that most people know that you can eat.” The company also offers products such as milk, meat, and eggs along with cheese, spices and marinades, oil and vinegar and sweet treats, among other items.
The platform has products from an array of local farms such as Brown’s Farm in Orange Heights, Florida; Ben Wells Produce in St. Augustine, Florida; Bacon’s Select Produce in Jacksonville, Florida; and The Family Garden in Gainesville, Florida. The majority of the company’s produce comes within probably 100 miles of Jacksonville. Its target market is consumers who care where their food comes from, how it is grown and who grows it. These might be people who forget to go to the farmers market or are too busy to visit one. The company has a minimum order of $28, and consumers can select any items to meet the minimums except for meat, milk and eggs.
The company has contracts with drivers directly, who work like a delivery person for Shipt or Amazon. They use their own vehicles, and they are the same drivers every week. Instead of a van delivering 100 boxes per day, the company will have five different drivers going to various areas of town to drop off, say 10 or 20 shipments. The company delivers in Jacksonville and St. Augustine, which are in the northern reaches of Florida, along with the Ormond-Daytona area and the DeLand-Deltona area in Central Florida.
Beyond Front Porch Pickings, companies such as Market Wagon are taking the age-old concept of farmers markets into the digital age. Through the platform, customers can order lettuce from one farm and eggs from another farm. They also might order bread from a local artisan, as the company aggregates orders on the fulfillment side. An individual food venture or artisan, however, does not have the stock-keeping unit (SKU) diversity to attract a buyer and get them to complete the checkout process.
With Market Wagon, farmers bring their products to a centralized hub, where orders from customers can be filled with products from multiple vendors and sent out the door. Customers can visit the website and select their market to make a purchase. The company has hubs in five locations, each with distinct local suppliers; and the consumer’s hub determines her product selection. Shoppers can search and browse by category or vendor, as well as find items on sale.
From Market Wagon to Front Porch Pickings, eCommerce delivery services are connecting consumers with local farmers as well as producers as they digitize the farmers market.