5 Most Innovative Use of Direct-to-Consumer Models

screenshot from craft coffee

screenshot from craft coffee

We like this ‘new breed’ as they’re doing something a little different. They’re taking the regular products you might find in a supermarket or can’t be found in stores at all, and they’re changing the model of distribution so that they don’t have the overheads of brick & mortar retail and operating an enterprise that can be run from almost anywhere. Kinda like the local food distributors around the world.

 

Lets take a look at a few which are breaking the mould, which might inspire some ideas about new models for local food.

 

Kiwi Crate

Sick of trawling the aisles of big box warehouses stacked from floor to ceiling with colourful noisy toys? Kiwi Crate (based in the US) offer a subscription service which is a crafted offering unique to their platform. They have parents, educational advisors and ¬†kids to test it all out. It comes to you direct in the post, and they charge monthly. And they have a cute logo ūüôā

Kiwi Crate Monthly Subscription Services

 

Blissmobox

Want to try some new and exciting goodies? Prefer they were organic, eco-friendly and non-toxic? US-based Blissmobox has been pioneering the curated box market for awhile now, and winning awards at the same time.

Blissmobox Monthly Subscription Box Service Organic Eco-friendly Non-toxic

 

BarkBox

This service may take the cake for the cutest around. Subscribe for a monthly fee, tell them the size of your Pups and they will send goodies for your woofers each month. Awesome.

BarkBox Monthly Subscription for Dogs

 

Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club are taking on the big boys with their cut price offering, and man-centric videos. It’s intriguing that after decades of ‘personal care’ companies building up their brands, spending millions on advertising, and developing close relationships with the big name supermarkets – a cheeky upstart like Dollar Shave Club can come along and start taking their market. We’ll let them tell you why they’re so great…

 

Turn Table Kitchen

An award must go to Turn Table Kitchen for the quirky and unexpected, we think. This Canadian subscription model curates a selection of vinyl and food each month, direct to your door.

Turntable Kitchen Monthly Subscription Music + Food

 

Great! So you’ve spoken to an “e-commerce guru” and they’ve set up a shopping cart for you, and now the orders are rolling in! Now what?

 

Oh yeah, you need to keep track of your customers, their details, their orders, their changes, their preferences, and their payments. Then you just need to work out where all those orders are going, which day, which address, what’s in the boxes, whether there’s any changes, and add a sprinkle of customer service love. Then it’s a matter of sending your delivery drivers out or working with a ‘trusty courier’ to get them, in good condition, to all your customers. Then just reconcile all the $40 payments to each of your customers. Breathe. Now whilst you deserve a cuppa, you’ve got all the other things to do to grow your business still.

 

… and right there, that’s why we built Bucky Box.

 

There’s more to service model business than simply a shopping cart – hopefully you understand the admin that it takes to run a business like this. But don’t be down hearted! We took the admin stress away so you can concentrate on building your business and keeping people happy….. and we give you a shopping cart for free.

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Tools for Local Food Distribution – designed for the other 90%

What would happen to food distribution if you provided enterprise-quality tools to the 90% of enterprises who can’t normally afford them?

[click to tweet this article]

 

Bucky Box designs for the other 90%

A little over a year ago, we posed ourselves that question. It was an interesting challenge – one of turning the problem that most local food distributors have on its head.

 

By now, most of us are aware that local food distribution has a glass ceiling¬†– it’s about 70-80 deliveries per week where the admin burden really kicks in and stifles growth.¬†[tweet this]

 

There’s just too much complexity to handle with spreadsheets and hacked together systems when you hit this number – you’re bound to start making errors – whether it’s making sure someone’s paid their bill, that one of the boxes should’ve had artichokes instead of carrots, or that Bob & Karen had just moved house. You know – that bit of information you scribbled on a sticky note and pinned to the wall?

 

So, the glass ceiling is really the automation of those labour intensive admin tasks Рpacking sheets, customer ledgers, delivery reconciliation and matching up payments.  Take away that glass ceiling, and we know that many local food schemes can grow, get more quality & healthy food to people, and be more profitable. We know this from the handful of schemes who have invested heavily in their technology and grown accordingly.

 

Back to the question Рhow can we change the game? How can we get more local food distribution businesses operating, serving different markets & communities, providing more demand for small farms & artisan producers? How can we shift the needle on the destructive nature of industrialised food systems? How can we bring back the food webs that existed pre-industrial food distribution? Lets call that our vision of the Food Web 2.0.

 

The answer is not simple, but it’s the challenge that we took on. It’s the challenge that we have spent well over a year working on in various forms, and it’s the challenge that we’ve got our first solution to. Bucky Box is about bringing those tools to the masses, to the other 90%¬†– to anyone who wants to start up a food distribution business [tweet], whether it’s 20 people in their local office, 200 people at their local church, or 2000 people in their community. Simple to use. Affordable. Ready to go.

 

[click to tweet]

We’ve got some exciting news in the pipeline to get a little bit of a buzz going around Local Food distribution, as we genuinely believe decentalising food distribution is one of the most exciting challenges & opportunities in c21st. <- [tweet].

 

It’s the forefront of enabling regenerative agriculture, improving the health of ourselves and our communities, and of lifting people around the world out of poverty. <-¬†[tweet]

 

If any of what we’ve said rings true, and you’re thinking about starting a local food enterprise, or doing what you already do – better, then drop by the Bucky Box – Software for Local Food website and sign up for a trial or just tweet us for a chat.

 

We’re looking forward to supporting you to create a better food system.

5 Tips for Local Food Delivery

Image courtesy of The Ecologist

We realised that as of late we’ve been chatting with a lot of¬†local food delivery¬†enterprises from all over the world, which puts us in a privileged place to spot some of what’s working for different organisations, wherever they may be. ¬†We thought in the spirit of open source, we’d share our musings;

 

Get Social!

The landscape of finding & engaging with customers has changed with the emergence of social media. With social media has come an unprecedented opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation with your customers & stakeholders, and tell your own story like never before. ¬†One of the best things? With over¬†835 million¬†people worldwide using Facebook & Twitter,¬†many of your customers are likely to already be there and 100’s more potential customers in your area too.

Whilst most social media sites (such as Facebook & Twitter) are free to use, you should factor your time into the equation Рlike any conversation, listening as well as talking takes time.  Consider super-targeted adverts on Facebook/Twitter/Google Ad Words.  We also heartily suggest telling your story through a blog (like ours!) on Tumblr or WordPress, and for the more aesthetically inclined Рshare your story, your passion & your vision through sites like Pinterest or Vimeo.

Remember; make your dialogue about Quality not Quantity.

 

Call on existing resources & support

In several countries around the world, there’s now NGO’s & Government programs which are set up to help local food distributors get started, or iron out any problems. ¬†They vary from downloadable action packs to full immersive social enterprise courses!

 

So our suggestion? Research, and make use of anything out there which could help you – you’ll be surprised what’s available!

Just some of our favourite resource hubs include; Soil Association (UK), Making Local Food Work (UK), Wallace Centre (US), Sustain (UK), Eaterprises (Australia), Transition Network (Worldwide).

 

Get creative with Funding

There are plenty of ways to fund a local food enterprise beyond mortgaging your house with the bank.  Our run down from the National Good Food Network webinar on funding local food tells you how!

Teaser for the NGFN blog: Co-operative model, LION networks, Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Micro/e-Lending platforms like Kiva, Slow Munis, Local Community Pre-Sales, Local Stock Exchanges, Investment Clubs like Slow Money.

See more here: Cutting-edge ways to Fund your Local Food business

 

Leverage free & low cost tools

Let the explosion of innovation & applications that resulted from mobile technology play into your hands!  The great news about the Mac App Store, Google Play & Chrome Store is that there are more applications than ever which can help you run your business more efficiently, and many of them are free.

 

Whether you need to manage your to-do list [Wunderlist],¬†collaborative project management¬†[Trello], communicate with your customers for nix [Skype], manage your social media marketing [Hootsuite], or simply use collaborative document sharing & calendars [Google Apps] – there’s a host of free apps out there.

 

We also would heartily suggest you check out some of the emerging technology, specifically around local food distribution. ¬†This is where we get to play. ¬†There’s several options out there now, which can manage customer accounts, help you manage packing & delivery logistics, and deal with the burden of payment reconciliation. Taking away the admin burden of local food distribution is one of the main barriers to growth we can see & are doing something about!

 

Be Authentic, Tell Your Story & be about More Than Profit

We keep coming back to this as a really important part of local food distribution. ¬†We all loathe greenwashing don’t we? So don’t do it – be authentic with the story of where you came from, where your food is produced, and how you play nice with others. ¬†We see local food distribution as being about values, and we constantly ask people to think about business in terms of ‘more than profit’.

 

Importantly, don’t ruin it for everyone. Local delivery, organics, farm-to-fork… it’s a tiny fraction of food distribution around the world. Don’t go stomping on it by picking fights with other people trying to do something similar in your area! ¬†Try thinking about converting other people away from mainstream supermarket shopping, and growing the local food economy?

 

Use your blog and social media to tell the story of your business. Make it about more than just ‘units’ and ‘weights of food’, and aim for something more aspirational – your Values. ¬†Use photography, words, infographics, videos & the great testimonials from your customers to show that you’re about supporting local farmers, delivering affordable organics, or whatever else it is that got you interested in local food delivery in the first place. ¬†But be authentic!

Here’s some of our favourite use of Creativity in Local Food to get you started.

 

Do you have any more top tips to share?

 

You can now see the expanded version of this blog here: