Farm-based CSA’s and box services are often asked by their clients to provide more flexibility in their boxes: allow for add-ons of other local products, move to a year-round service, have boxes delivered right to the door. When deciding whether to fill these needs farm managers often ask themselves, “How much time is this going to take?” “Is this time that could be better spent in the field?”
My own home delivery business, Share Organics, started as a buying group focused on local produce. I faced similar demands in the Victoria area about 20 years ago and spent a lot of time with programmers developing a database to handle all the contingencies. Initially, it worked well and made a huge difference in the amount of work I had to do. Four years later I wanted to connect the customer interface (read: website) with the management program as we were spending a lot of time entering customer orders into the system. Most of the major box programs have reinvented the wheel and developed their own systems–all very complex and requiring a significant investment in time and money.
During my search, I had the good fortune to meet up with a brilliant eCommerce specialist and we decided to create a web-based program to solve my business needs. Our system became Home Delivery Management:
- Customer orders from the online shopping pages are directly accessed by the management interface
- Calculates exactly how many carrots are needed that week
- Allows customers to make multiple changes to the box
- Allows add-on products that are easily entered into the system and tracked by the manager
- Flexible enough to be of benefit to different types of operations
- Is priced so that small local companies can be competitive with the larger corporations
Management procedures are held online and can be accessed anywhere with the highest standards of security. Routing is simple and can accommodate last minute changes. Produce pricing is very adaptable. Invoicing is all taken care of as well! Purchase orders for suppliers are created and managed in the system. Reports to streamline production are available at the click of the mouse!
Susan Tychie – HomeDel trainer, HomeDel business consultant, and advocate for robust local food systems