E-commerce for food and farm products

Sales of food and agricultural products direct to the consumer through e-commerce is on the rise as people would rather stay home and order online than venture into a brick-and-mortar store. If you’d like to set up an internet sales presence, there’s a lot to consider.

Brian Moyer is an educational program associate at Penn State University. He says there are numerous e-commerce platforms that have been designed specifically for agricultural farm and food business models. The system you choose should fit your specific requirements. Not everyone needs a complex e-commerce site.

"Maybe depending on the products that they’re offering, they’re just doing email orders. Maybe they have an email newsletter and you can email me your order and they’re just keeping track of it in a spreadsheet," says Moyer. "Also, how tech-savvy are you? There are systems you can look at that you can create your own online presence which gives you more control but obviously takes a lot longer to do and there’s no tech support."

When comparing e-commerce platforms, analyze the cost with the return on investment. Look for features that are important to you and how easy it would be to use.

"Will it generate a pack list? Does it track inventory, it gives you a warning when you’re running out of something, these kinds of things," he says. "And then also, test it out. Find some folks to just test it out to make sure everything works properly because it would be a chaotic kind of nightmare if you said alright, everything’s entered, let’s go live, people start ordering, and you start finding where things don’t work and creates bottlenecks."

Make sure that your site will work on mobile devices. Moyer says the customer experience has to be easy and convenient, or you’ll lose out on sales.