Selling Online: A Detailed Look at Local Line – A Leading Farm Sales Platform (FSFS214)

 

Today we’ll talk about moving your farm store online using Local Line, an e-commerce platform specifically made for farms.

Cole Jones, Local Line CEO, will talk about what to look for in an e-commerce platform for your farm, how to compare, what features Local Line can add to the mix, and what the future of online farm sales looks like.


What is Local Line? (2:10)

It’s an e-commerce and logistics program for family farmers, food hubs, and farmer’s markets. Local Line helps you sell your products online and organizes all your order fulfilments.


Why did Local Line happen? (2:40)

We were looking at the number of family farms in Ontario, and found that in one year, the number of family farms dropped by 4,000. We asked, why? We went around the community in Waterloo, asking around the local farmers, and got that: 1.) there was no platform to support small family farmers market better, faster, and cheaper; and 2.) it didn’t feel like there were any tools for them to support how they grow, pick, pack, sell, ship, and invoice their products. There was the idea that there’s an entire class of family farmers that could benefit from such tools that could effectively secure their futures as independent entrepreneurs.


Were there any other farm software when you started? (5:15)

I don’t know if we all just had this, “aha!” moment back in 2015 that we all just decided to do this, but the ones that already existed were all still very small. And even back then, it was definitely too small for us to make the decision to build our business around this platform.

“Let’s not reinvent the wheel.”

We went through the generic e-commerce programs and set farmers up with them and it worked out okay, but do you really want to set the bar at ‘okay’? Probably not. If that’s the case, what could we add to those systems to make it feel like a custom-made application for the farmer that they would fall in love with it immediately?


Why should people look at Local Line? (8:30)

I believe we’re particularly strong in what we call catalogues—a sort of back-end inventory management. We work best for farmers who cater to different kinds of customers, like a farmer might sell to restaurants, households, and also have CSA boxes. Those are different products in different pricing and packaging that you sell to different customers.

Local Line allows you to list your products in different denominations per set of customers. Local Line also converts your sales for you so you can keep track of how much product you sell, and how much you have left of it.

We’ve also done delivery and pick-up management well. We have delivery plans that take into account a minimum order, or a delivery fee, free delivery, lead time, delivery window time slots. We guardrail the deliveries so customers are forced to think about their minimum orders, and why the delivery fees are different compared to driving down the road for ten miles versus driving down the road for a hundred miles.

Another thing that makes us unique is that we have three products, one for farmers, one for food hubs, and one for farmer’s markets. You can have hundreds that purchase Local Line licenses, and they could get invite their farmers onboard. Should their farmers want to have a Local Line store for themselves, they could have their independent Local Line account and link it to the food hub that they sell to. That way, they don’t have to be managing a different account, and at the same time, it keeps the numbers consistent.

Another thing that’s important to look at is the rate of improvement—how frequently is this company launching new things for the customers? Last year (2019), we launched 26 new features for our customers for free as part of their subscription. A platform might launch new wicked cool things in six months, while another platform might look the same as it did since it released.

It also depends on your needs, are you looking for a straight software package? Are you looking for a partner for the business? And if you are, how is the customer support? How easily are they available to you? Do you actually believe these folks know what they’re talking about? Can you be on the same page?


What does normal customer service look like for you? (15:35)

Before CoVid, we were averaging about a three-hour response time including weekends. Response time is one of our team’s weekly metrics. With the craziness right now, our customers have a 24-hour turnaround time, but in most cases, we can be faster than that. We’re pretty upfront with our phone number, call us any time. We think about our business as a partnership—we love getting to know you, your business, and what you’re trying to do, and we want to play a small part in that.


How have you approached server stability and general uptime with Local Line? (18:00)

It was something we struggled with the last couple of weeks.

After coming home from a farmer’s market conference back in March, we immediately told the team to prepare for about double or triple the traffic and usage. So we prepared at triple, thinking we’d be safe. The week after that, we saw a six-time increase in our usage, which I didn’t think would be possible. Miraculously, the system didn’t go down. But what was interesting was the week after that, we saw a 15-time increase in our usage—and no one could have foreseen that. The system never went down, but it did get really slow for a little bit.

We’re expecting a 25-time increase in the coming weeks, but we’ve made our preparations so we’ll be able to handle up to a hundred times’ increase in traffic.


You’re catering to a lot of business models under one platform, how divided is your attention compared to catering to just one business model? (22:55)

It wasn’t the first time I’ve asked this, and it isn’t the first time I’ve questioned myself—what are we doing? I don’t think you move the needle with another super specific software for anything. I think it’s very, very possible—about 80% of the needs are the same, and there’s only about 20% variance per category depending on what you need.

If you’re very thoughtful, upfront with how you’re architecting that, and you have a very deep understanding of how these businesses operate, it’s very possible to build a really, really good application that supports the diversity of the local food system. And that’s what we’re doing.


What makes a food hub different from a farm store just listing other people’s products? (26:45)

A food hub is basically a local food wholesaler. The food hub application that we have manages not just the products you’re listing and selling to your customers, it’s also supplier management—submitting PO’s to your different farmers and organizing the dates that they’re dropping off products.


How long does it take from sign up to having something that receives payment? (28:45)

If it took you more than the morning or the afternoon, then we’re not doing our jobs right. It’s not challenging at all. You get in, you create your account, simple storefront fill-out. Adding a delivery or pick up plan is just a few clicks away, too.


Can I integrate my Local Line store with my current website? (30:30)

We have an embed feature where our system will automatically drop your online store into your web page, and it’ll make it look like it’s part of your application. You can customize your page to match your branding. We also launched a free website builder some months ago for our customers who are sick of overly complicated website builders and just want a pre-built website for farms. We’ve got five pre-made templates for that.


I’m sure you get a lot of requests for very specific features.  There might be one person who is very insistent that they absolutely need this feature, and yet that’s the first time you received that request in the history of the company. (33:15)

You’d think that after on-boarding thousands of farmers across an entire continent, you’d have heard it all, I cannot tell you how untrue that is. We hear a lot of very interesting, one-off requests still, and we’d want to hear them, of course, but there are many times that we have to be upfront and just say that it’s unlikely that we’d be able to put that in the program.


What does Local Line do that simplifies packing and delivery or pick-up that isn’t a solution for an e-commerce platform? (35:20)

There’s this entire world that happens after you get the order. Getting the order is step one, but once you get the order, the farmer has to pick, pack, load, ship, invoice, and get paid for the order—a six step process that happens behind the scenes that, in our experience, most of the generic platforms haven’t set up for the food industry. On the delivery side when you log in to your Local Line account, you start by inputting your current logistics schedule, delivery area, minimum order.

Say that you deliver to this area in New York Tuesdays and Thursdays. Your customers would be automatically filtered through those variables, so if they are in New York they’ll be able to schedule a delivery that matches your logistics schedule. When that order comes in, it’s tagged with a route, so you’ll know where it fits. The software needs the address to be able to filter the options that are available to the customer.


For farms that have ala carte sales that also have CSA’s, are they managed under two different catalogues? (41:45)

It depends. The way that the catalogues work in our system is that you don’t get customers who are part of multiple catalogues—a customer can only be in one catalogue. If you want to split out between customers, then you can have them under different catalogues, but you might not want to do that. You might want to have it such that they can have their CSA box as well as order more on top of that, in which case you would put them all under one catalogue. You end up treating the CSA’s as a CSA box, so it’s a recurring order.


How does your software manage CSA’s? (43:20)

There are two points here—what it looks like today and what it ends up looking like in six months. We got a lot of requests from CSA’s to add functionality to support them. So we asked, what could we build for these CSA’s that is of value to the rest of our customers? We made a standing order that you can set on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. We also made it so you can make adjustments like put in additional orders, etc.

Some of the things we’re building next for it are payment structures, like being able to get the bill for the box upfront or paying in installments.


What about booth credit and gift card apps? (46:15)

Yeah, for sure! We have a store credit feature which is the most immediate thing anybody can use. Customers can apply store credit gift card-style as they make purchases. We’ll be having some announcements by April, part of which is being able to sync in gift cards so if farmers want to issue gift cards or promotional codes, they could.


Is it easy for farmers on Local Line to open up and close down sales at their desired times? (47:35)

Yeah, for sure! We could probably build more on this feature, but you can choose to open or close your store at any time. The next logical step is setting up interested customers with a link to the store once the sales are back and running.

 

What does moving a farmer’s market online look like? (49:00)

Sometimes the farmer’s markets want to be the ones managing the payment, the time, and the pick-up locations, and then inviting farmers after they’ve configured that. Other times, they push some functionality back to the vendors—they want the vendors to be able to control their order lead times, pick-up days, or their payment terms. So we connect to the market manager and we have a conversation to first understand how many vendors they have, what they’re trying to use this for, their expectations, and the configurations that we’re setting them up with.

It’s basically a multi-vendor environment with a unified customer check-out. Each vendor gets their own login where they can upload their products and their prices which then feeds into one, larger store where customers can shop by product, by category, by vendor, etc.


When customers access LocalLine.ca John’s Town Farmer’s Market page, do they see a list of vendors or a list of products? (50:30)

You get both, but the default that we show you are products because that’s what people are generally there for. At the same time, there are customers who always go to the same vendor, so we have a toggle that lets you switch to vendor view that shows you a list of vendors and the products that they sell.


How do you feel about the store interface on the customers’ end? Is it something that works or is it on the list of improvements? (52:50)

I think there’s a lot we can do to improve it. I think we should be making improvements right now, which we are. I think we did a good job thinking through the add to cart process for the customer, and then the check-out process and selecting the delivery and payment. I think there’s room for improvement in the check-out flow, actually getting to the check-out, how to select the pick-up date, and how to do the payment.


What does pricing look like for somebody who wants to start out? (54:50)

We get told that we’re generally on the low side with pricing. We just do a monthly subscription fee—we don’t charge a percentage fee, and we never will. We took a couple of years to really build our platform, but once we had it built, we benefited a lot from the power of these referrals. Because farmers tell other farmers, and farmers sell to food hubs, and word just gets out from that. For farmers, we can get you started with $50 per catalogue per month, and that has been a frictionless and fair price for us so far.


Is there any way Local Line users can get insight from other Local Line users? (1:00:00)

We have 25 success stories on our blog right now, so that’s one way. If you want to connect with other Local Line customers in your area, we’re present in 49 states and 8 provinces, so we likely have other folks in your area that are using Local Line. You can reach out to us, and farmers generally want to help farmers, so our customers are gracious with their time and don’t mind having a conversation.

We’re coming up with a good news feed, which is basically all of the success stories of all the markets and farmers in our system. Obviously, there’s a lot of bad news in the world, but despite that, we have a lot of very heartwarming screenshots of farmers’ sales numbers, e-mails, and we’re planning on putting all that together so that folks can get on there and get a sense of what these folks are experiencing.


Conclusion

Are you a farmer looking for a platform to sell your produce? Are you a customer looking to buy produce from your local farmers? Or maybe you just want to learn more about Local Line.

Go ahead and visit them at LocalLine.ca

 

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FSFS214 � Cole Jones

Diego: [00:00:00] Today, it's all about moving your farm store online using the e-commerce platform. Local line coming up. Welcome to farm small farm smart. I'm your host Diego DEI ego. Today. We're continuing the online farm sales series by taking an in-depth and inside. Look at the e-commerce sales platform specifically made for farms local line.

If you haven't heard of local line before, they're quickly becoming one of the industry leaders for online sales for farms, whether you want to host your farmer's market online, whether you want to have your own farm store online, or whether you want to manage your CSA online, local line may have an option or a plan that's right for you.

In fact, they probably do. But how do you choose, how do you select local line over a competitor? How do you weigh them against each other? To answer that question today, I'm talking to CEO of local line Cole Jones. Cole's going to talk about what to look for in an e-commerce platform for your farm, how to compare them, what features local line can add to the mix and what the future of online farm sales in the future of local line looks like.

If you've been curious about moving that store online, then I think this episode will really help whether you end up choosing local line or not. One thing I want to say at the very beginning of this episode upfront is this is not a paid promotion episode. I reached out to them to do this interview because I wanted to get the information out there.

So there's no sponsorship, no affiliate links and no money being changed. It's just an honest conversation about local line. And stay tuned at the end of this episode for a special offer for anybody who subscribes to a new local line plan. With that let's get into it. Learning more about online sales platforms and local line with Cole Jones.

First of all, for people who aren't familiar with, what you guys do, what is local line?

Cole Jones: [00:02:10] Yeah, local line, at its most basic concept is an eCommerce and logistics program for family farmers, for food hubs and for farmers markets. So basically, if you are a, what we call food suppliers, selling food locally to your community, local line helps you sell those products online and helps you organize all of your order fulfillment on the backend.

Diego: [00:02:36] When the idea of local line first came up, what was the why behind that?

Cole Jones: [00:02:41] This started out, particularly just doing research in Ontario. So we're, our company is based in Waterloo. It's about an hour West of Toronto. And, we were looking at the number of family farms in Ontario and in one year, the number of family farms dropped by a little bit more than 4,000 of them.

So there was about 52,000 of them left. There was 56,000 before. so you're talking almost a 10% drop, but that's whatever it is, a seven or 8% drop, which is crazy significant. and so we started starting to think like, why is that the case? Like surely at some consolidation, but maybe it's not all consolidation and what's driving that.

and so for us, we actually just ended up like just driving around our community in North rural Waterloo, talking to a bunch of farmers, trying to understand for them at the time it was mostly around farmer's markets. Like, how is that working for them? Is that a profitable sales channel? Is it not?

What are the sort of dynamics that go into that? and anyway, we just pin balled around until we landed on this concept that. a couple things like one, it felt like there was no, platform to support the small family farmer, getting to market better, faster, cheaper. and it didn't feel like there were tools that were made for them to support how they grow, how they pick, how they pack, how they sell, how they ship, how they invoice.

it was mostly spreadsheets and sticky notes. so we just again, pinballing around, ended up with this idea that, we think that there's an entire class of family farmer basically that, could benefit from these tools and could effectively secure their future as independent entrepreneurs. If you can find the right ways for them to get to market. and that was a super exciting thought. So that's how we ended up doing that.

Diego: [00:04:28] I'm not exactly sure when the idea came up for you guys, but when it first arrived, did you look out at the landscape of software that was currently available? So you have generic e-commerce software from your WooCommerce to your Shopify, to other farm software.

And now the farm software landscape is actually a lot larger than I ever thought it was. Given how it is today. How was it when you guys started? Was there anything else out there and were you looking to just make it more robust iterate upon it? Do it

Cole Jones: [00:05:03] better? Yeah. In terms of like the other folks directly in our space, I don't think anybody was like really around it.

I don't know if we all just had the same aha moment in the same year in 2015 or whatever, and we all just decided we want to do this. But, even the ones that existed, I think where we're all still very small, even in our space now everybody's still, it all feels like we're still at the starting line here, but even back then, it was definitely too small for us to sit there and make the decision to be like, Oh yeah.

we'll build our business around this platform. or this tool set. The way we started was as any logical person would like, let's not reinvent the wheel. what tools exist that can be really great for this. And so we tried all of them. Like we went through the generic e-commerce programs.

Like we set farmers up with them, like we got to know how that works and how that would function. and we came out of that being like, yeah. You can use whatever generic e-commerce program, but there's a fair amount of work arounds. It didn't feel like it just worked. Okay. And the question was, do you want to set the bar at okay.

probably not. so if that's the case, right? What would we do to add to what those systems have to make it such that it feels like a custom made, application right. For that farmer that they fall in love with immediately and dramatically moves the needle for their business. So we went through those steps and just, that's how we ended up doing it. Ourselves was just like listening to enough farmers asking us for things, getting to know these other programs. Like I said, not many of us in our specific space were around or even like at least maybe around, but not known at that time.

I think we were probably all still siloed to our respective state or province, but now it's a, now it's obviously more now it's different, right? So this is a real, this is a real space. It's a real opportunity. And. the best product is going to win. And

Diego: [00:07:04] I think that's great to have numerous companies tackling this challenge of bringing produce online because it raises the bar for everybody in terms of performance.

It adds features, it opens up what's possible, but there's a bit of a negative in there for the person starting out because they get this. Decision fatigue. It's like opening up a catalog for seeds and there's 85 different tomato varieties in your life. how do I choose amongst them with even, let's say there's five choices out there for a farmer looking to take their farmer's market booth online, sell their vegetables locally.

And of those five local line is one knowing. Who else is out there. Why should somebody look at local line over another company? What features do you have? Or what can you guys provide that you think is unique, different, improved compared to

Cole Jones: [00:08:16] others? So I'll preface by saying so I've done. I did a talk on this a couple of weeks ago, actually on this exact question, it's like, How do you actually pick the right platform, for you?

Because there are so many of them out there now. so I'll prep all I'll highlight the features that I think we're particularly strong at, but I'll preface by saying, I actually don't think that the feature set, it has to meet a minimum standard for you, but it's probably not the most important thing that you should be judging when picking up a, so like a partner.

and I'll explain why. But as it relates to a feature set for us, where we're particularly strong, I believe is in what we call catalogs. so back end inventory management. so we work best for farmers that have different segments of customers that they sell to. So if you sell to, for example, restaurants and do sell to households, or if you have a CSA box and then you have an Ella cart, right?

those are different. Products, that have different pricing in different packaging that you're selling to those customers. And so what local line allows you to do well to say, okay, here's my one set of inventory. Here's my total set. I have one bushel of apples. So as an example, right? And I can see, that bushel in a five pound bag to this set of customers, and I can sell that bushel and a 10 pound bag to this other set of customers and locally one's going to track and convert my sales for me so that I know if I sell a, six, five pound bags, And 12, 10 pound bags.

How much of my bushel do I have left? So we make that really easy to slice and dice your products, put them into different catalogs, but maintain one consistent set of inventory. I think we're particularly strong there. I think that the other thing that we've done well is delivery and pickup management.

So the way that we have designed the application in such a way, we. Bacon to each delivery plan, a minimum order, a delivery fee, a minimum, for free delivery, order lead time, different pickup days or delivery, window time slots, and a bunch of things that I think make it. We actually make it generally difficult for the farmer to not be making.

Money on their deliveries because we try to guardrail it in such a way that you're forced to think about. Okay, what is my minimum order? And why is that minimum order different. If I'm driving 10 miles down the road versus a hundred miles down the road. And then I think that the last thing that makes our platform particularly unique, especially in the world that we're living in today, is that our platform, like we have three different products right.

In the market for farmers, one for food hubs, and then for farmer's markets. So we're not a singular farmer application. And what that means, especially like I said today with what's going on is you can have. Hundreds of farmer's markets that come and purchase local line over the last three weeks purchase licenses and they can get on their vendors.

They can have their farmers on board and those farmers should, they decide that they want to have a local land store for themselves. They can have their independent local line account. And tie it, link it to the market account or link it to the food hub that they sell to. So they don't have to be managing different accounts.

That's the problem that you can run into if you're on a generic e-commerce program or another application, and then somewhere else in your supply chain, be it a market or a hub or whoever else you're selling to chooses a different program. Then the year at this interesting sort of like, how does that fit together for me?

And it's now creating more work because I really am not using just one program for my inventory or for my sales. So I think that we've done a good job there. Being able to connect these different, suppliers in the food system so that they can work together in a way that doesn't require a whole bunch of extra work on the backend.

All right. so I think those are the three things, right? catalogs, delivery pickup, and then being able to link into your markets and your hubs, and vice versa markets being able to link into you. But I think more importantly, like at some level, features are like table stakes, right?

Like where all. Software companies like we all have, I'm sure, talented software developers on staff. We can build features as we believe that customers need them. so probably what's more important to look at that. I don't see many folks taking a look at would be for example, like rate of improvement.

So what's how frequently is this company launching new things for the customer? last year in 2019, we launched 26 new things. for our customers for free, like these aren't add on things like this is just what they get on their subscription is our dedicated team to continue to work and improve the system.

So I think rate of improvement is really important because six months from now, these a couple of platforms are going to have a lot of other wicked cool things. And some other ones might still look pretty much the same as they did, whatever X amount of years ago. so that's something to consider.

And then I think it also just depends on them figuring out. what's the relationship that you want to have? Are you really just looking for just straight software package and if that's the case. Cool. No worries. You should go buy a software package that works for you. If you're looking for a partner for the business, then you might want to think about what is that customer support, how easily are they available to me?

Do I actually believe that these folks also, you know what they're talking about, right? Like other than just building software, do they actually understand. my farm and what I'm trying to do and my goals. And can they have a conversation about that with me, so that I feel like we are on the same page moving forward.

So I know how to project out what I want to be doing this season as an example. so it's, I think it's important to think about that too. And just think about what's that expectation for you that you want with that provider?

Diego: [00:14:09] Yeah, I think two, two big ones that come to mind for me is somebody who deals a lot with web stuff.

Customer support. I think you're dead on there. It's what is responsiveness? How easy is it to get answers? Is there an actual phone number? It's amazing. The amount of companies or plugins today where you just get a contact form or you have to go through a forum versus being able to actually pick up and call somebody.

What is your overall structure of how you run customer service? I get it's busy now. I get it's crazy now with everything that's happening out there in the world. But if we remove that, what does normal customer service. It looks like for you.

Cole Jones: [00:14:55] So before COVID we were averaging sub three hour response time, including weekends, like across the whole week, on responses to any incoming calls or tickets, or like emails rather.

and that's a metric that we look at weekly in our business. My team has a bunch of weekly metrics that we look at and that's obviously one of them you're correct. Like with the craziness right now, our commitment to customers is 24 hour turnaround time. In most cases we can be faster than that.

like we've been able to clear the inboxes, most days, and I don't know, whatever, nine out of 10 days, before we go to bed at some ridiculous hour. and so that's been okay, but. Yeah. like we were really upfront about the phone number thing, two, two six, six, four six, seven three zero.

Call us anytime. we're going to pick up, we've got folks, we got support on the West coast. Cause you got a lot of West coast customers. We've got a lot of customers in Hawaii. That's a six hour time zone change from where we are in Ontario. so it gets some West coast support and yeah, you can call or email us anytime.

that's the ideas. Like we think about it as a partnership. Like we don't think about it as a. whatever customer or vendor, relationship, it's more just like we, this is actually the super fun for us. Like we actually doesn't really love, like being able to get to know your business and get to know you and what you're trying to do.

And, we can play a small part in that. so yeah, honestly, like folks just call us anytime. Like we just love, we love talking to them and we love trying to help

Diego: [00:16:18] another big one. When it comes to web is stability, uptime. Again, removing the COVID craziness. I want a platform that's going to work all the time, because if I can't, if a customer can't make a purchase as a merchant, that's not good.

Sometimes they just don't ever come back. What is your view? How have you guys approached servers, stability and general uptime for anybody who has a marketplace on local wine?

Cole Jones: [00:16:53] Yeah, this is all just a very timely question and something that we struggled with the last couple of weeks. And I'll explain why, I think pre COVID, it's not difficult to monitor the usage of your application set in the proper notification so that in the event that you get to 80% capacity or something like that, right?

Like you're being notified. and then it's not normal. It's not generally that difficult to understand. All right. what are those heavy, those heavy actions, That users can run that if every single one of them tried to, upload a thousand products at the same time. what would happen to the application?

And how are we ready to respond to that? So there's normal day to day stuff like pre COVID that you think about this just good. Diligence, things to do so that you're prepared for your growing customer base. And I think that's great. we were good on that.

this COVID thing for us. So we started to think about this, I guess like March early, March 5th or so. And we started to say okay, not so much, what's this gonna do to our platform, but what implication could this have for farmers and markets and hubs? Like, how does this affect our customers?

and then I went to Chicago to speak at a conference on March 10, 11, 12. And, it was a conference for farmer's market managers. And, basically every single one of them was like, Hey, what's the plan here? can we use this? Or what's the deal. and we were like, okay. So we came back by March 15th.

We told the team we need to probably be prepared for double or triple the traffic and the usage. so let's just plan for that today. let's plan for triple and see where we get to thinking that you're probably pretty safe at triple. and in the first week, in the 15th, the week of the 15th, I don't know if that's a Monday or not.

It's just whatever. so mid-March. We had six X, the daily usage that we were seeing on the system. So it was double what I thought was even on a high end, it wouldn't be, and that wasn't even that bad. Like the system still actually ran, like without really any challenges. the following week was when it got interesting, we saw 15 X and we no one could have predicted or prepared for that.

it was just an absolute onslaught, of. Existing customers selling more like we had, we have. So I can't tell you how many customers we had doing that. We're doing like a hundred orders a week with us that are now doing a thousand orders a week and they have to go and they'd turn their store off because they're like, I literally cannot pack this many orders.

this is insane. plus all the new markets and the new customers coming in. So anyway, it was a little bit of whiplash for us where like the system, so the system never went down. That's the benefit. that's a good thing. That's a silver lining, but it did just get really slow for a little bit.

And obviously preparing for two or three X increase versus 15, or now this week is going to be 25. is, a lot different, where you have to take more drastic measures. So thankfully we're through that. Now we are prepared. we are ready to go, we'll go to a hundred Xs. No problem.

We will not let it happen again. But yeah, it was really frustrating thing for our customers, for their buyers. So for the local food buyers are super frustrating for us and, it was a really big learning lesson for us. That's for sure.

Diego: [00:20:10] Evolving a small business. I totally get a lot of those growth challenges and concerns. And it's good to hear like you are improving. I love the idea of judging companies based upon rate of improvement. But if we go back to one thing that you talked about, it was there's potentially a lot of different farm business. I could be a farmer who just sells to restaurants. I could be a farmer that sells direct to consumer.

I could be a food hub. I could be a farmer's market. In local line, I could be a CSA farm as well in there. And you guys are addressing all of those. It sounds as an outsider, part of me says, that's a lot of different business models to integrate under one platform. They might function very differently.

Is it better to specialize in one thing versus hitting all of them? And if this company is trying to service all of these markets, how divided is their attention versus somebody who just makes farmer's market software, somebody who just makes food hub software. What are your thoughts on that? This

Cole Jones: [00:21:23] is not the first time that I've been asked this.

So not the first time, to be honest with you, Diego, that I have questioned myself, in thinking, what in the hell are we doing? but, but no, listen, Yeah, sure. It's easy to sit there and think about okay, whatever three years ago, for example, starting with two developers and no money, and no resources and whatever, Oh, let's just go build a platform that works for the diversity of all of these local food businesses.

Like it's definitely a big undertaking. It's a big ask. but that's what got us excited and that's also what I believe the industry needs. So I don't think that. The end, I don't think you've moved the needle with the they're super specific farmer's markets software or another super specific software for whatever ABC different type of businesses.

I think it's very possible. I think 80% of the needs are the same. And I think that there's 20% variance category to category depending on what you need. And I think that if you're. very thoughtful upfront about how you're architecting that. And you have a very deep understanding of the way that these businesses operate.

I think it's very possible to build a really good application that works to support the diversity of that local food system. and that's what we're doing, Like I said on the bright side, nine times out of 10, if we are improving something for whatever, the food hub application, that gets rolled out platform wide to everybody, right?

Like it's not, it's very rare that we make an adjustment for one and it doesn't apply to the rest. I think that it's more about. The building blocks of how you're configuring the application and what portal people are coming into, what management capabilities they have, what permissions, If you're a market, how do you manage those vendors?

How do you manage customers? What permissions do you have? it's more about that than it is about building like completely new feature sets for these folks, because I think most of them, 80% of it's the same.

Diego: [00:23:21] One thing you talked about earlier was your catalogs. Could potentially tie together. So let's say I'm a farmer who has my own online farm store.

And my farmer's market is also on local line. Does my farms inventory linked together as that centralized? So farmer's market customer buys one pint of tomatoes from me. It debits a generic inventory associated with my farm. That also ties in with my online farm store. Is that correct?

Cole Jones: [00:24:00] That's exactly the case. Yeah. Like we've got some, we've got some farmers on local line that sell at 15 different markets and they have their own farm store. So they've got their own online store with local and right now, to sell to their existing customers that come into their like farm retail shop. And then, they sell at 15 different markets so they can manage all of that just from the one local line account with the one set of inventory.

Diego: [00:24:23] Yeah. I love that feature. that would simplify things in terms of food hubs. Let's say I'm a farmer. I have my own online store. I can list Joe Smith's products on my online store.

What's specifically different about a food hub. Is that allowing vendors. Who participate in the food hub to go in and manage stock, manage descriptions, that type of thing, or what makes a food hub different from a unique farm store that is just listing other people's products.

Cole Jones: [00:24:58] Yeah, a food hub is basically just another way of saying like local food wholesaler. and I'm sure that all the food hubs that hear me say that are going to bring out their pitchforks. He gets super mad at me. but that's basically what it is. food hubs are more designed to think about, okay. if they're purchasing from a variety of, local, local farmers, they have a bushel of apples coming in the back door, right from the farmer.

They take that bushel, they're bagging it into their five and their 10 pound bags. They're tracking markup, they're tracking waste, they're allocating to catalog and they're going and selling themselves. And so it's more, generally you see it more as a traditional wholesale, type of an operation. So the, that food hub application that we have.

Which came from the local orbit takeover that we did a little over a year ago, has a lot of that type of functionality. So it's managing not just the products you're listing and selling to your customers like you would, if you're a farm, it's also supplier management, right? So you have to be submitting POS to your different farmers.

They need to be organizing the incoming dates that they're dropping off. there's a whole slew of. Additional inventory, functionality that you have to be prepared for to manage there

Diego: [00:26:10] for somebody who's listening to this, they're considering local line and they want to list just their farms products online.

If I went online right now, registered. Signed up. If I had my ducks in a row, like I knew what I was gonna list. I knew quantities. I knew pricing. I had artwork. I had descriptions. How long would it take me to go from, sign up to having something that could receive a payment?

Cole Jones: [00:26:35] If it took you more than the morning or the afternoon, then we're not doing our jobs right.

if you're good to go, right? So that's it like it, it's really not challenging at all. you get in, you create your account, simple storefront, fill out all the things that you'd expect. And then when it comes to products, you've got two options, right? If you've got 25 or less products, you can probably add them one by one.

If you have a thousand products, which a lot of our vendors or our customers do, then no worries. You just grab an Excel sheet, you drop it in. And our system will, we'll take all thousand and end up voted for you right there. adding a delivery or pickup plan is just a few clicks to get that going very, again, couple clicks to integrate with square or Stripe, if you want to set up your online payment and, and then you're off to the races.

Diego: [00:27:20] So the payment processing that's outsourced to one of the major online processors you just, which is easy enough to set up.

Cole Jones: [00:27:26] Yeah, it has to be right. Like we're not obviously licensed to process those transactions or store those credit cards. Like nobody is, unless you've jumped through all those hoops, like those other processors have.

so we recommend square. Like it's a great platform. We've got a great relationship with them. and, yeah, so it's really easy. Like you just go to your local line account, you connect your square account, you set your payment terms. Like you want them to pay when they check out or you want them to pay on pickup or, whatever.

Diego: [00:27:52] and then where you go, the farm website currently, ABC farm.com. I want to bring an online store presence to that existing website. How can I do that? With local line is my local wine store. A separate site, separate URL. How can I integrate that with a current website?

Cole Jones: [00:28:17] Yeah. So we have an embed feature it's called embedding your store. And what that does is it allows you to. basically in your local line account, it's just a copy paste function. So you copy just a little snippet of code. You can actually go over to your existing website, create a shop page or whatever you would like to call it.

and then click paste and what'll happen is our system will automatically drop your online store, into your webpage. It'll fit the dimensions of the screen. it'll make it look like it's part of your application. And so you can customize like the colors of the storefront. You can customize the font.

Like you can do some customization and local lines so that it not just the brand of your site and you can drop it right in there. most of our customers do that. a small percentage of our customers don't even have websites, so they can actually use the local line URL that you get for the store as that website.

So local line know dot backslash, ABC farms, right? that actually is the storefront landing page that, that folks can go order from. but then we have a free website builder as well. Like we launched a completely free. A website builder. I don't know, six, eight, no, maybe. Yeah. Maybe eight to 10 months ago, and, so yeah, if there are farms or anybody that wants a website, they're sick of, overly complicated, builders, and they just want something that's already like pre-built for farms, we've got five pre-made templates. They can just go in there, drag and drop, customize, literally whatever they want. totally unlimited pages, free hosting, like everything that they want to do. they could just go and launch a website.

Diego: [00:29:50] So definitely makes things easy for farmers, which I think is good. I think, some people might be seeking out customization ad nauseum, ad infinitum. I don't think most people want that.

And I think too much customization brings about. Complexity and stability issues and in compatibility issues, when you start getting into, I want the feature to do this and not this. So I think making it easy, making it simple yet, making it robust does have a benefit. So if somebody is looking for something that's super feature rich, I think everyone.

Probably has to check expectations in terms of how many features they want, because I'm sure you get a lot of requests for very specific features that, this person is insistent that they need yet. It's the only time you've ever had that request in the history of the company.

Cole Jones: [00:30:44] Yeah. You think after you think, after you onboard thousands of farmers, Across the entire continent that you would have, heard it all. And I cannot tell you how untrue that is. we hear a lot of individual sort of, one-off very interesting requests still. and it's no problem at all. Like we, obviously we will want to hear them, Because it's definitely, we always want to entertain the idea. There are many times that.

we have to be upfront and just say, it's unlikely that's something that we're going to be able to put into the program. and it's in our best interest in their best interest to know that. and yeah, there's some things that we've designed in the system that might not match a farmer's workflow today, but that we've seen that feature, create a lot of success for a lot of the other farmers on our platform.

So again, you're drawing. That little bit of a line in the sand where th this is how the application's been designed. So I think simple, but robust is a great way to put it.

Diego: [00:31:39] He is WooCommerce for our online storm, pretty deep into that, really familiar with it. I think inventory management, listing products, those types of things on a platform like that.

It's easy. I don't see honestly, any advantage to farm software over. An e-commerce platform in terms of those types of things, self sufficient store in its own bubble, those platforms, do those things well, where I see potential complexity for generic e-commerce platforms. Be it WooCommerce. Be it. Shopify is potentially on the packing side, potentially on drop location, selection.

What does local wine do that you think simplifies one packing and delivery or pickup instructions that isn't really an out of the box solution on an e-commerce plan?

Cole Jones: [00:32:43] this is a great, this is a great point. And I think that the. You're totally correct. And just to take one second and just explain the broader context here, right?

Like I think you're completely correct. Like adding a product and inventory is not challenging to do. It's not challenging to build. It's going to be mostly the same platform to platform. For the most part. but you're exactly correct. It's there's this entire world that happens after you get the order.

So getting the order is step one, but once you get the order, the farmer. Has to pick pack, load, ship, invoice, and get paid on that order. All right. So then it's a six step process that has to happen behind the scenes. That again, in our experience, most of the other generic folks are maybe not set up to do specifically for the food industry.

so to answer your questions in our case, that's exactly correct. We generate automated pick lists in the form of an Excel sheet. So as orders come in. The farmer can segment. Okay. Give me a picklist for every order that I got this week, give it to me segmented by delivery or by pickup area. And give me that sheet so that I can get out and I can actually pick those products properly when they get in, they have pack lists. So we've got pack lists that they can say, great, I have this many bunches of lettuce. How many of those go to Bob? and they can start to then individually, they get this assembly line going.

And, and they ended up packing it a fair amount of our customers have like the laundry wire, like on top of like across the tables. And it's like the restaurant like ticket system, Where you put them up on the laundry wires and you're packing them like that. and, and then ultimately those products get boxed in and ready to go out to the customer.

so there's like backend fulfillment piece on the delivery side. There's two things worth mentioning. So the first thing that is worth mentioning is that when you get to your local and account and you're setting it up, you start by inputting your existing, logistics schedule, right?

So you might say, okay, I deliver to, whatever New York or this area of New York. On Mondays and Thursdays, my minimum order is a hundred bucks. My order lead time is 48 hours, et cetera. So you put in your variables and what happens is customers when they come to your store and they're going to check out, they're automatically filtered through those variables to fit the right plan for them.

So if they are in New York, They'll be able to say, great. Yes. I would pick up or I would like delivery rather on Thursday. There we go. Easy. And so when that order comes in, it's tagged with that route, With that information. you know exactly where that fits

Diego: [00:35:16] is that software filtered or is that customer led like the customer is checking boxes to say, and I want to pick it up here or is it. Software that geo locates based upon an address that says, this is

Cole Jones: [00:35:33] what you're going to get. So we need the address to filter what options are available to you. So Are you in the zone or you can get delivery or not, right? we need your address for that. That's not geo located like through our system, like we're not looking at the IP of that computer and saying, here's where it's located.

There's a, you could do that, but there's a lot of opportunities for error, right? that's what's happening when the customer is checking out. So they're adding products to the cart. And then the next phase in our process is like, Hey, fantastic. Like, where are you? Where are we? Where are we sending this?

Because we need to know how we're going to filter and display those options to you. And so they're saying, Oh, I'm in New York. Or if they say, Oh, no, I'm in Rochester or whatever. then it might be available for pickup, So when they get to the checkout page, they have the options to say, yeah, I want it delivery.

Or I want it pickup. and they can pick their pickup location. So that's that's number one is filtering through those. So you're never going to get, like some of them are like, Oh, like I'll deliver within a 50 mile radius. And it's that's fine. But if the only major city is 50 miles East of you.

I'm not sure that I would recommend driving, 30 miles West, for a $50 order. So you want to be able to think about strategically, what are the areas that I'm serving? How do I get as dense as possible there? How do I make it such that as customers come in, they're just filtered through the variables that fit for them, And that therefore fit for my business. So I know that I'm organizing this in the way that works for me before my customers are even coming in and placing orders.

Diego: [00:37:06] Thinking about this as a store owner, I thank you on to eliminate as much customer confusion as possible, make it as clear as possible for the customer and make it as simple as possible for you as the store owner.

So I'm assuming when somebody sets up their store, if they're doing delivery or they have pickup locations, they distort our owner is doing some work. Once to determine here is what I am committing to doing in terms of delivery or pickup locations. This is the radius. These are the spots. Your software helps them.

The guard rail them, I think, was your wording on that. So they set that up at that point, it's in the system, the software uses the customer's input address to then give them either an option or. Maybe there's a case where there would be multiple options, but it would give them, this is what's going to happen based upon what you've input.

So there isn't any ambiguity of, is it this, or is it this

Cole Jones: [00:38:13] that's exactly correct. Like it needs to be just clear as day for the customer. What they're ordering. And when the expectation is that they're going to receive that product, and then that needs to be structured in a way, correct? Like a onetime upload for that farmer.

It needs to be structured in a way that it's actually economical for their business to do So you just put that thought into what actually works for the numbers for my business. And then we're being able to reflect that to customers as well, for

Diego: [00:38:36] farms that have just all a card sales and they also have a CSA. Those are managed under two different catalogs.

Cole Jones: [00:38:46] It depends. the. The way that the catalogs application works in our system is that you don't have customers that are a part of multiple catalogs, because then it's which one do you show them? And what set of pricing, right? if you've got products at two different prices, then it's, so a customer can only be in one catalog.

So if you're trying to, if you actually want to split out, Hey, here's my CSA customers and here's my Alec Hart then. Yes, absolutely. you can have your, you could have them in different, in different catalogs. but you might not want to do that. So you might want to have it such that they can have their CSA box.

They can order more on top of that. and so in that case, you would put them all in one catalog and you end up retreated, you end up treating the CSH. As a CSA box. So it's a recurring order, right? So there's a standing order that gets set for that. And then each period, there's a window of opportunity for that customer to be able to add more products, Alec Hart style. That's what they'd like to

Diego: [00:39:42] On the CSA side of things is where a lot of complexity I could see coming into an online platform because CSS or just, there's a lot of models just there and you can have a fixed box. Where the farmer's inputting. Here's what you're going to get. Week one, week, two week three, you could have that box be editable.

You can have it be editable up to say a certain date. And if you don't edit it, you get everything in the box. You could have a fixed box. Plus add-ons for farmers who are really interested in CSA is and using local line what's possible with your software. In managing the CSA.

Cole Jones: [00:40:26] There's two points here. There's what it looks like today. And then there's what it ends up looking in six months. we started to get a lot of requests from CSH to build additional functionality, to support them. I'm not sure you might say six months ago, something like that. And so very similar to how we approached it for the rest of our development philosophy.

It's okay, great. what can we build for the that is actually a value to the rest of our customers as well. Like how do we make this a win-win across the board for the whole platform? And so we ended up building things like standing order as an example, right? So you can set a Lockton standing order on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

You can make adjustments, customers can add to it, not add to it, et cetera. and then, so that sort of worked well. it's it didn't feel like, again, it's out of the box totally custom made for CSA is like feel. and so we ha we had the, this was almost like maybe a month pre COVID.

Where we sat down as a team and we were like, okay, you're exactly correct, Diego, like CSA, is there a bit of this, different beast? Are we in or are we out? Cause if we're in, we've got to be all the way in. and what does that look like? and so we decided we're in. So we think that this is actually just a great model for farms to run on.

Like just in general, like the recurring nature of it, I think is a great way for these businesses to run. And so we're committed to building it. What that means is we have a lot more to build. So some of the things that we're building next for it are around payments structure, right? So you need to be able to take like bill for the box, upfront.

And then that sort of gets credited and it gets run down. there's different payment, like installment methods that these folks deal with. So it's like a little bit now, a little bit later, a little bit after that. so there's a lot of additional sort of things that we're going to be building.

in the coming months, it got a little bit push back, given a COVID like basically everything in our existing roadmap, previous to this is now on pause. but it's something that we're going to miss this main growing season. Like we know that, but moving into next growing season, we would expect to have, a really kick ass product for CSS.

Diego: [00:42:32] Yeah. Another feature that I'm not sure if you have it now, maybe it's been mentioned, maybe it's on the horizon. I don't know. Farmer's market customers. A lot of times they run booth credit and they're using different gift card apps providers to do that. Is that anything you have involved in, integrated in the local line or is that something somebody could potentially get at some point down the line?

Cole Jones: [00:42:54] Yeah, for sure. Yeah. So like we, we've got store credit feature right now. That's the sort of like most immediate thing that somebody can use so they can apply store credit to a customer. And then that customer can purchase down on their credit, similar to like gift card style. as they, as they make purchases and then yeah, we were, So we've just done a very significant partnership with square.

there's more details that are coming out, at the end of next week. so call it, late April and, yeah, that's going to have a lot, a whole bunch of really cool stuff that we're going to be announcing their part of, which is to being able to sync up with some of those gift cards.

so we'll have a gift card sort of program there. So if farmers do want to be issuing gift cards or promotion codes or anything else like that, there'll be yeah. Able to, there'll be able to do that using local line.

Diego: [00:43:35] As part of that partnership, looking ahead, having some sort of integration between a square POS system and the local wine online store.

Cole Jones: [00:43:44] Oh yeah. Oh yeah, baby. That's the big one. so no, there's a ton, there's a ton that we're doing there. and yeah, the POS integration is one of them, among several other things. So we're actually really excited for that.

Diego: [00:43:54] One other thing that a lot of farmers are doing now more for their own sanity and logistical management, no reflection on any online platform is they open up sales beginning at this time and they shut down sales at that time. If somebody wants to do that with local wine, pretty easy to do.

Cole Jones: [00:44:15] Yeah. Yeah, for sure. again, I think that there's probably even more that we could build onto this feature, but you can choose to open and close your store at any time. so if you like our, one of our customers that all of a sudden you're sitting on a thousand orders and you're like, this is ridiculous.

you can just go close your store and it doesn't like, shut it all down. It just gives a message on the storefront. Hey, like we are temporarily closed. we will open up for the next order period. so it's pretty easy to do

Diego: [00:44:38] you need a little feature there? Notify me by email when the store reopens or some text via text, something like that.

Cole Jones: [00:44:44] exactly. A hundred percent. Absolutely. Absolutely. That's the logical next step is to start collecting information from those interested customers that just want to get notified with a link to make a purchase. As soon as the story

Diego: [00:44:58] now, one other pretty I'll call it advanced because I think this would be a large undertaking. And this could be a whole episode in and of itself. So I don't want to dig too deep into this, but moving a farmer's market online, what does that look like on local line?

Cole Jones: [00:45:15] Yeah, sure. I guess the quick sort of synopsis is, there's a few different configurations that we have. so sometimes farmer's markets want to be.

Managing the payment. They want to be controlling the pickup location the times that people pick up so they can configure all of that when they create their account. And then they invite their vendors. sometimes they want to push a little bit more functionality back onto the vendors. So they want the vendor to be able to control their order lead times or their pickup days or their payment terms or things like that.

so normally what happens with us is we connect with the market manager and we have a first conversation to just understand how many vendors do you have? what are you really trying to use this for? What's the expectation and therefore what's the configuration, that we need to be setting you up with.

So they create their account, they invite their vendors and connect them into the application. and so really what you have is like a multi-vendor environment with one unified customer checkout on the front end. So each vendor gets their own login. They can upload their products and their prices, and anything else that the market gives them access to do.

and that feeds into one larger store where the customer can come and they can shop. by aggregate products by category, they can shop by vendor, and they can ultimately make purchases for pickup at that market.

Diego: [00:46:38] When somebody shows up on the local line.ca Johnstown farmer's market page, what do they see? Do they see a list of vendors or a list of products? I go on Amazon. I can buy something from Sony. I could buy something from Bose. I can buy an Apple product. They all. Ended up in my car or I can just search for Sony, but when they see it, I'm trying to get a sense of the online feel for when somebody shows up to that online market. Do I guess, get a list of vendors or products?

Cole Jones: [00:47:10] And you get both the default view that we show is products. because that's generally what people are there to do is to buy products. but at the same time, there's always customers that are shopping that. Always go to the same vendor, It's somebody that they know, like they want to make that purchase. so we've just got to toggle for, you can switch to the vendor view and then you can see a full vendor list, like the categories that they sell. and then you can isolate and view those specific products.

Diego: [00:47:36] So say the default view is by product and carrots are listed and it's bunches. That's how the farmer's markets agreed to put it in there by bunch. Do I see. Carrots by the bunch, one 99 a pound, but say vendor B has organic carrots and he let's say he wants to charge two 99 a bunch, and then three 99 a month. Do I have three listings for carrots at different prices? Or how does that work?

Cole Jones: [00:48:04] Yeah, that's correct. I think that the thing to make note of is that it's not just like three generic carrots. Products that are like priced at different prices. Cause that's it's weird for the buyer. It's like kind of information overload and then you're incenting this race to the bottom where like they just want to buy the cheapest product.

so what happens on the product tile when you're in the product view is we list the farmer. Like it's very easy to see who, which vendor is selling that product. And there's a hyperlink in there. So like you can click that vendor and go straight to their listing. so I think that it's a. Yes, that's fine.

That's what it means to show like the product view, Is if you want to see all the products, you get to see all the products. but it's, it's very easy to distinguish who's selling which one

Diego: [00:48:44] in terms of the store interface, regardless of whether that's for an online store or food hub, a farmer's market with you guys, the current display, what the customer sees on their end. How do you feel about that? Is that something that you've. Found works. And you're riding with that for a while. Is that on the list of improvements or something we'd like to change that up? What are your thoughts on store display?

Cole Jones: [00:49:12] There's lots that we can do to improve it. I think we need to be making improvements to it right now, which we are, there's actually significant improvements that are going to be coming out to it in the next couple of weeks.

I think like the experience for us going into COVID here was like, No pre COVID. The machines running feels like the machines working well. We've got a nice growing business, everybody's happy customers can order us no problem. And then literally you go to 25 backs right in the span of a couple of weeks.

And it's not just, it's not just an amplification of. It's not just like extra server usage. it's so many orders, right? So many orders that are coming through the, the platform. So any small thing that should have been improved is now amplified by, whatever 25 X. and so it feels like for us it's we're so we're actually, we love it.

it's awesome because it feels like. We were walking around in the dark with a flashlight and then someone turned the stadium lights on above us and it's Whoa, wicked. so yeah, I think like we've done a good job thinking through the add to cart process for the customer and then the checkout process on selecting those delivery.

and payment, but I think that there's room for improvement for us in the checkout flow. I think that actually getting to that checkout, how to select that pickup date, how to do the payment. Like I think that there's ways that we can be approving there, which, I think a lot of it's going to get cleaned up the next couple

Diego: [00:50:39] Continuous improvement, getting better. And it's great to hear in terms of pricing, what does pricing look like for somebody who wants to start out for just a. Farm. I want to list my products online. Where do you think you rank in the industry?

Cole Jones: [00:50:54] We get told we're generally on the low side of pricing. we just do a monthly fee. so like a monthly subscription fee.

Like we don't do a percentage. Of sales at all. we never will. we, we don't charge any upfront implementation fees either. Like all of our pricing is just baked into the monthly fee. So if you're a farmer, then you can get started for 50 bucks a month. if you're a farmer's market vendor, then it's 20 bucks a month, And you can sell through your, just sell through your market. so it's pretty affordable. Like I think we. we took a couple of years to really build our platform, but then once we had it built, I think that we've benefited a lot from the power of these referrals. because again, like farmers tell other farmers, but they also sell the food hubs and sell to markets.

And so word gets out. So we've been able to grow through referrals really quickly and. As a result. our pricing just is what works for our business, at the end of the day, that's what it has to do. we've been able, we've been fortunate where we didn't have to spend a ton on customer acquisition. we've been able to get those referrals. And so as a result, it's, it's easy for us just to say here's the monthly fee and that's how it's priced.

Diego: [00:52:00] Yeah. Looking at your pricing here on an annual plan, $50 a month for a farmer per catalog. I think that's cheap if you're doing any sort of significant amount of sales, that's really cheap.

So I don't think cost should be a factor in deciding if local line's right for you. That's just my opinion, because whether you save $10 on another platform or you pay $10 more for another platform, It's all within the realm of sheep at this 50 ish dollar a month range. Now that's per catalog. One thing I think maybe could be confusing for people.

If you just want to do all our card sales on your farm, you just need one catalog. So you're at that $50 per month paid yearly fee.

Cole Jones: [00:52:46] That's correct. You can pay $60 a month and do a month to month. That's what you'd prefer. most folks do the annual, but it doesn't matter. Trust really. Yeah. that's totally correct. Like one. So most of the other folks in our space have these, they just do the generic, like three different pricing packages, right? So it's Oh, like you get these features. And, I don't know, whatever this many pickup locations, and you can pay $50 a month or you get these additional features and these additional things and you pay a hundred dollars a month and then they have a $300 a month plan or whatever.

And, and that's okay. we tried that, we used to do that and we found that the likelihood that any particular farmer fits very well into like exactly one of those boxes is actually pretty low. generally they want this feature from that plan, but don't need the one feature you have in the other plan.

So they want to swap out, but still pay the same price. And it just over-complicates, it, at least it did for us. I don't, I can't speak to the experience of others. So we just said, listen, give them all the functionality, just give them everything straight up front. There you go. And we just do it on a per catalog basis because that's what you're actually getting used for the system for.

Like your act orders is where the value is. And so if you need to sell to restaurants and CSS and households or whatever, and you need three catalogs, Then that's reflective of the needs of your business. and we price according to that. And so far that's worked well for us. I get it.

There's sometimes there's a point of clarification, for like on our side for the customer. they want to know exactly what that means. but yeah, $50 per catalog per month has been in our opinion, a pretty frictionless and fair way to price it.

Diego: [00:54:20] I really liked the approach that you guys have taken. I think it makes sense. It's intuitive. I think you're well thought out in how you're going about growing the company. just some advice for anybody listening to this. if local line is resonating with you coming out of this, thank you. Just go with them. And I'm not, this is not paid. I'm just doing this because I want to inform people.

But one worry I have when people start hearing interviews like this, as they start going in and micro, analyzing every platform, looking at every feature against each other, and it can quickly become a. Long waste of time where you're not actually moving forward where your goal is to try and do sales online.

Nonetheless, if people do want to learn more about you, local line.ca you have a lot of great demo videos. There's a ton of information on there. And I think you guys do provide a great solution for somebody who has a farm and just wants to get started selling now for people who maybe. Have done their own evaluation, but they want to know from other local line users, what their experience has been. Is there any way that they can do that?

Cole Jones: [00:55:36] Yeah, a hundred percent. we have, I think 25 success stories written on our website right now. So if you go over to the blog, you can read about some of how folks are using local line and deploying it. and that, so that's number one, number two. if, you want to just connect with other customers likely in your area, like we're present in 49 States and eight provinces.

So we'd likely have other folks in your province or your state that, are using local line. If you want to connect with them, then no worries. Like you can just reach out to us and chat with us. And generally again, farmers always want to help farmers. So our customers are extremely, gracious with their time and don't mind having a conversation.

and then we're coming out in a week or so with what we call the good news feed, which is basically just like all of the success stories of all of the markets and farmers and everything that we've had on the system. Like their COVID obviously there's a lot of. Bad news in the world right now, but we have, a lot of very heartwarming, screenshots of farmers, sales numbers, and emails from them and, just some pretty exciting stuff.

So we're going to put that together and put that out as well in a link. And I'll send that to you Diego, when that's available. And, and then folks can get on there and get a sense of, what these folks are experiencing. The other thing to say though. So just generally, I think everybody.

In our space it's is actually good. th like you shouldn't, I agree. Get into this analysis paralysis. Like you should probably just talk to a team, make sure the features are what you need, make sure that they're going to be there to support you and then go do that. but yeah, like I think everybody is super nice people.

everybody's trying to build the best platform that they can. We're going to go about it in different ways. It's going to take a long time to play out. It's like a really exciting thing. but we do need. People in this space trying to support the digitalization of these food systems. So I think it's really great that we've got some fantastic, other folks that are doing this as well.

Diego: [00:57:24] Totally agree. thanks for taking some time today, Cole, out of a busy time period for you to share everything about local line and. All the thoughts and improvements you guys have around the platform.

Cole Jones: [00:57:34] Thank you for having me

Diego: [00:57:37] there. You have it. Cole Jones of local line. If you want to learn more about local line, be sure to check them out, using the link in the show notes for this episode in the show notes, there's also a special offer.

Anybody who signs up for a local line subscription gets a free premium service. So be sure to check that out, using the link in the show notes below. I didn't know much about local line going into this episode, but coming out, I had a good feeling about them. I think they're going to quickly become one of the industry leaders in the eCommerce space for small scale farms.

I think they have a lot of services now and we'll have a lot of services in the future that can really help a lot of small farms out. So if you're interested in moving your farm store online, or if you're not quite happy with your own sales platform, as it exists today, Check them out local line using the link below.

If you're enjoying this online farm sale series, let me know on Instagram at Diego footer, just send me a DM and love to hear your thoughts on it. There'll be more episodes about selling online, coming up, but until then be nice. Be thankful and do the work.

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