The Dominion Post & Stuff.co.nz feature Bucky Box

Bucky Box is in the Dominion Post

 

The press this week continues with more coverage of our launch in the National press here in New Zealand.

 

Big thanks to the team at The Dominion Post who covered the launch with a story about the rise of the “Locavore” in New Zealand.  We definitely see a rising awareness in people here, wanting to know where their food is from, and wanting to support local growers and better, healthier forms of agriculture.  It’s great to see!  We believe we need to bring the trend out of just the “gourmands and ethically aware eaters” and into the mainstream, and a big factor in that is always cost. If we strip out the expensive middlemen, and make the small scale distribution efficient, and we believe we can do that – that’s our aim!

 

There’s a tip of the hat to Enspiral, our social innovation incubator – our friends & colleagues.  We really appreciated all the support, encouragement & expertise they’ve offered us in the last few months especially to get us to our Public Beta launch.

 

You can see the full article here: “App helps consumers find locally grown food”

 

There’s also a version in Stuff Technology here published the same day.

 

Announcing : Public Beta – Software for Local Food Distribution

Software for Local Food Distribution - Launches Today!

 

Today, we’re announcing Bucky Box is ready for Public Beta.

 

Sign Up for 3 week FREE trial for Bucky Box : software for local food distribution

 

It’s been a fantastic road to this point; it began by being part of starting up a box scheme, then coding a prototype, joining the Enspiral social innovation family, indulging in hundreds of conversations with local food distributors in NZ and the rest of the world who shared their insights & frustrations with existing systems.  We earned some early recognition & awards, disappeared on a skunkworks, invented a new social enterprise structure for NZ, had our private beta release, worked with amazing early customers, attended sustainable food summits, battle hardened the system, had some small celebrations, achieved a bit more recognition, had a head-down winter, and finally, somewhat aptly, in Spring, we find ourselves here – ready to share our work with the world.

 

We’re delighted to say early trials have been good (that’s not to say there hasn’t been hiccups) and we’re seeing 70-80% time savings with the private beta. With our public beta release, we’re also announcing a fresh new take on the Bucky Box interface – we hope you like it!  We’ve drawn together the threads of what it takes to make Local Food distribution happen into just a couple of screens.

 

 

We announced our pricing a week or so ago too – we hope you agree, this is incredibly affordable even for local food distributors who traditionally don’t make a large mark up on their service.  We also decided we wanted to make the software accessible to enterprises in developing nations, so you’ll notice we can do GDP-adjusted pricing too.

 

It all goes back to our More Than Profit mission at the end of the day – we want to bring about a human food system that supports the collective long term health of all living systems.  You can read more about our ethics & how we have built Bucky Box to embody those values over at Bucky Box | The Mission.

 

Read the Press Release : Bucky Box – Public Beta Launch here.

The New Zealand Herald highlights Bucky Box : ‘software helps farmers deliver the goods’

Press - Bucky Box Software for Local Food covered by The NZ Herald

Bucky Box was this morning featured on The NZ Herald – a National NZ Newspaper.

 

A big thanks to the NZ Herald for covering us as we run in to our public beta release – more news on that soon!

 

Read the full story “Bucky Box software helps farmers deliver the goods”.

 

Download the print version : Bucky Box – Software for Local Food – NZ Herald Launch Article [PDF].

 

 

Tips for Local Food #4 : Leveraging Free & Low Cost Tools

As part of our series on Top Tips for Local Food Distribution, we’re diving a little deeper into each of the 5 tips we gave. This week is ‘Leveraging Free & Low Cost Tools. You can also read our guide to Social technology, Funding, or Giants!

More Tips for Local Food from Bucky Box - Leveraging Free & low Cost Tools

 

Have you ever tried to run a local food business armed only with a telephone, Microsoft Excel and email?

 

Many people around the world are still forging on down this path, but there’s a revolution happening around the internet which can make things easier, create more time to do the things that matter, and free you up from painful admin.

 

Core components of local food distribution mainly involve Ordering, Customer Accounts, Communications, Packing & Delivery Logistics, and Payment Reconciliation, so lets take a look at what’s out there that can help you do these things, better.

 

Ordering

It’s time to take your customer’s orders for the week! How do they make orders at the moment? Phone? Email? Facebook?

 

Well a shopping cart can be a good way to handle online ecommerce transactions, and there’s heaps of options. Of course, generally you will need to already have a website (which you could build through services like WordPress [free]), which you can then use a plugin for – just search WordPress Ecommerce, and you’ll find many options!  Or you can use a specialised ecommerce service like Shopify (paid service), which provides themes and payment options.  Most of these options will cost either a) ongoing hosting fee, b) upfront cost, or c) % on every transaction and/or monthly service fee.

 

You’d generally be able to expect an email when orders are made, or a spreadsheet of orders at the end of the day.  Some of these options are quite flexible to create a catalogue of products so for example, you may offer a Standard Vege Box, plus a list of extras – you should be able to do this, but most of the shopping carts are created for a ‘stock list’ of say 20 or 30 products which do not change regularly.

 

Customer Accounts

Managing your database of customers needs to be carefully done to ensure you don’t drop the ball!  Some people will be regular customers, some will be ‘inactive customers’, and some will be ‘potential customers’ who have expressed interest but not ordered yet.  You’ll likely have different tasks for each of these, so you’ll likely need a to-do list of actions too.

 

You might run a spreadsheet with all these names, contact details & orders against these people, but as we all know – spreadsheets can be fickle beasts – prone to human error (ever written over a cell and found a moment later that the Undo button wont work!?).

 

A customer relationship database might be another way to deal with this.  There’s some great tools like OnePageCRM (paid service) which are created as lite-Sales tools which could be adapted to house all those relationships and schedule reminders & follow ups, or there are a number of free options in the Mac App Store, or Google Chrome Marketplace.

 

You might also like a to-do list app which synchs across all your devices so you can keep track of things – take a look at Wunderlist (free), Trello (free) or Todoist (free).  These are great if you’re not tied to the desk all day – whether you’re out on the farm, rushing around suppliers or markets, or simply on your day off & want to run a couple of chores.

 

Communication

Well if you’re not in communication with your customers, you’re likely to be out of business pretty quickly.  There’s a proliferation of tools in this space now – we wrote a little about some of them (and how to use them) in our Get Social : Using Social Media tools for Local Food guide.

 

We would heartily recommend you’re using a suite of communications including:

  • – Phone or VOIP services – such as Skype (free or low cost)
  • – Email – you can’t go past Google Mail (free or low cost)
  • – Support Desk – if you want a simple & powerful helpdesk & knowledgebase, check out Uservoice (free or low cost)
  • – Social Networks – Twitter (free) is a great service for business-to-customer communication, and channel for storytelling & reaching out to new customers. Also a Facebook Page (free) is a great way to connect less formally with your customers, tell your story and share pictures of your products, customers & suppliers.

You can also check out our blog about finding new customers & Marketing guides, as well as our roundup of existing support & resources for local food.

 

Packing & Delivery Logistics

This is where things sometimes start to get tricky. It’s one thing taking all the orders, it’s another thing making sure they get to the right place at the right time, on the right day.

 

Unfortunately there’s not a lot of tools in this space which haven’t been developed for courier companies or logistics firms shipping products around the country.  There are systems like Delivery Biz Pro (paid-service), which seem angled a bit more at home delivery services, and we expect some more to arrive with the rise of Ebay, Etsy and the likes, but mostly those goods head out in the regular post services.

 

Of course you can use Google Maps (free) as a way to pinpoint where your deliveries are headed, but it’s not highly adaptive to delivery runs with multiple drop offs.

 

Payment Reconciliation

Headaches at 11pm at night trying to match up bank accounts with customer accounts? Hastily scribbled notes on delivery sheets not making sense at the end of the month? This is one of the areas we’ve heard the most frustration about.

 

Yes, there’s 101 online accounting services – being proud Kiwi’s, we’d point you in the direction of Xero (paid service) – we use them in fact, they’re ace, and we reckon they’re streets ahead of the competitors like MYOB (paid service). That said, we don’t think they really cut it for local food distributors when it comes to matching up multiple payments, with multiple customer accounts, on a weekly basis.

 

Of course, there is another option.  Bucky Box has gathered all these insights from hundreds of conversations with local food distributors around the world – and we’ve built our tools for a better food system with them in mind.  Bucky Box helps you with Ordering, Customer Accounts, Communications, Packing & Delivery Logistics, and Payment Reconciliation, all in one turn key solution.  Check out our website to sign up for a trial.

 

Springwise features Bucky Box : ‘Software Firm Focuses on Helping Small Farms’

This morning I woke up to a (good) Twitter storm brewing thanks to Springwise featuring Bucky Box pride of place on the front page.

Local Food Distribution gets some IT support

 

It’s always nice to get featured on sites like Springwise, as it means quite a few more people around the world get to know who we are, and why we do what we do.  We made a conscious choice a while back that we would slash our marketing budget, and focus on social interactions & creating value, rather than empty advertising spending – which means more money would flow into our Global Partnerships Fund.

 

Springwise picked up the Social Enterprise structure of Bucky Box, as well as showing how we will disrupt the food system with our software:

easy-to-use software that automates orders, billing and logistics, the company aims to help propel the emerging decentralized food system in general — and local organic farms in particular — as they sell direct to customers via weekly boxed deliveries. Using Bucky Box’s web application, which is now in beta, weekly administration time can be reduced from two days to two hours, the company says; it also helps to streamline packing, delivery and support. As a social enterprise, meanwhile, Bucky Box reinvests the majority of its profits into non-profit ventures related to the new food system, including farming research, public awareness, and education.

 

About Springwise:

Springwise scans the globe for the most promising business ventures, ideas and concepts that are ready for regional or international adaptation, expansion, partnering, investments or cooperation.

 

We look forward to working with many more Local Food distributors and Small Farms in the coming months and years. Thanks Springwise for your great article!

Tips for Local Food #2 : Call on Existing Resources & Support – Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

As part of our series on Top Tips for Local Food Distribution, we’re diving a little deeper into each of the 5 tips we gave. This week is ‘Call on Existing Resources & Support’ – Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. You can also check out ‘#1 : Get Social – a guide to new media for local food‘.

 

Bucky Box helps connect you to existing resources & support for local food enterprise

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

 

Have you created your dream job, only to find that despite offering quality local produce from farmers who care – customers are slow to jump aboard? Or are you a startup veg box scheme which needs a pointer in the right direction to get the wheels rolling?

 

Whatever your challenge, someone, somewhere is likely to have already faced it.  Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you have access to a remarkable amount of knowledge from around the world, when it comes to local food systems.  Hard to find the right bit? Well Bucky Box is here to help.

 

Resources & Courses

 

There’s some great online and downloadable resources which can help you step through the early stages of set up – call them cheat sheets;

Networks & Communities of Practice

 

Connecting with people & projects of interest is vital to continuing to keep your finger on the pulse of what works, as well as what new opportunities may be around the corner. Check out some of these online & offline networks:

 

Support from Government & Charity

 

There’s some admirable work being done around the world by several governments in an effort to rejuvenate local food systems, here’s some of the programs which we’ve seen which might be able to offer you some help:

We will also take the opportunity for a specific focus on funding in the next Top Tips blog, but you can check out the National Good Food Network webinar in the meantime.

 

Technology

 

Mapping, Consumer Apps, Back End Systems, Traceability, and much much more is coming.  Here’s a run down of a couple which might be useful to local food schemes looking to make their job easier;

There’s many more examples of technology which would enable your local food business springing up all the time, so keep tuned on the above channels (and here!) for more examples.  You can also check out our blog about ‘Getting Social’ – tips for local food businesses using social media.

 

By no means is this an exhaustive list, so we’d love your feedback for other resources, networks, support & technology we should be adding too! Drop us a note below in the comments.

 

Thanks to Jenny Huston for support in the Resources section & Kirsten Larsen for tips on Australian Government Support!

Social Business & Trendhunter feature Bucky Box : Local Food Delivery Software

A big thanks to Social Business and Trendhunter, who picked up our social good business model, and ran a story on it recently entitled ‘Organic Food Delivery Software’!

Local Food Distribution software company Bucky Box, have a social good mission

 

It’s always nice to be featured as much for our social good mission & business model, as it is for the technology which will catalyse the possibilities for local food around the world.

 

Bucky Box is a New Zealand-based social enterprise that is making it easer to deliver organic groceries. This innovative software will cut down on time and errors—making the business owner and the customer happy. The tool emerges alongside the growth of grocery schemes like community supported agriculture and other distribution models, which exist in many industrialized countries for organic food and non-organic food alike.

 

Of course, our software isn’t just suited to Organic food distribution, we can support schemes who are distributing fruit, veg, meat, juices, and a whole lot more – take a peek at our video to understand a little more.

So a big thanks to @TianaReid who hunted us down and to Social Business and Trendhunter for featuring us!