Why your small farm needs an ecommerce farm website (and how to get started)
Why would a typical small farm go to the trouble of creating an ecommerce farm website? Because (like any other farm tool), if used properly it will help you make and keep more money.
That's been my experience at New Terra Farm over the last few years of maintaining this website. You can read more of our particular story here
How we grew our farm website but here's a quick overview of the reasons to implement ecommerce for your small farm.
- Position and promote your farm. Your ecommerce farm website gives you practically unlimited space to tell people about your farm, your farming practices, and your farm products. You can 'tell the story' of your farm, include pictures, provide recipes, etc. to entice your visitors to become customers. Currently about half my farm sales come from my website.
- First contact. Customers these days tend to seek information on the Internet first; most first-contact attempts are through the websites of the companies they find. Having a 'web presence' has become the standard for small businesses.
- Sell anywhere in the world. If you have a product that can be shipped, or an information product you would like to sell (that book of great family recipes, for example), your website connects you to a world-wide audience. Anyone in the world can find and interact with your website, at anytime of the day or night. Make money while you sleep (a dream of mine, in fact ;-)
- Connect better with your local market You can communicate more easily with your local customers, advertise farm specials, inform them of availability of seasonal items,etc. If you sell at a farmers market, you could let your best customers know what's coming up, and even pre-package orders for them to pick up.
- Your website can easily accept credit card payments. On-line sales are now commonplace. There are a number of third-party credit card processors that can integrate with your website and let you accept credit card payments. PayPal is a good example of this, and the one I use. To set up a 'Buy Now' or 'Add to Cart' button, I just cut and paste a few lines of code from PayPal into my website; they provide me the code and take care of the rest of the transaction. I don't need a Merchant Account, just a bank account to accept payments. I accept payment for my CSA shares this way, and for pork, beef and chicken, and for sales of my books.
- Which brings up another point – your website can create income directly, as well. As well as selling your farm wares, you can use your website to promote other products of your own, or those of an affiliate partner. This creates an additional income stream for your small farm. In fact, I think my farm website may turn out to be as profitable as my farm itself this year.
CAUTION: the reality of an ecommerce farm website ahead
Here's where reality rears its ugly head. First, understand that implementing an ecommerce farm website is like any other farm project; it requires a plan, a budget, and some effort on your part, if it is to be successful.
The good news is, the technology has evolved to the point that anyone can have a 'website that works'; whether they will is another question, and it is determined by the three factors I mentioned i.e. having a good plan, investing some money, and applying some effort. There are no REAL get-rich quick schemes on the Internet.
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eCommerce Farm Website