FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
F&E Market: a Twin Cities Online Farmers' Market
WHO does this work for?
This is ideal for farmers of produce, grains, value-add and proteins. Packaged and cottage food makers for people and pets. Baked goods, take-n-bake meal kits and/or frozen foods; restaurant and food truck pre-sales with pick up, recurring food and beverage subscriptions. We've found it terrific for farmstead made fibers, soaps and much more. We've recently added in beauty and health care sellers; along with kitchen textiles and products. Bulk and case sales, CSAs and subscription - based products can be sold, too. We plan to offer wholesale buying opportunities to processors, restaurants and institutions in the future, too.
WHAT is this multi-vendor online marketplace?
Our marketplace is built for the "new market normal." Like Craigslist, Etsy or Ebay, sellers create a profile, list products and sell collectively online in a single environment. Sellers personally ship, deliver or offer market or curbside pick up. We also have a hybrid drop site opportunity in Linden Hills, where vendors are not on-site, but instead F&E collates orders from multiple vendors and distributes via a drive thru pick up, or at a central location. This online market is a one-stop grocery shop, where Twin Cities customers can purchase from dozens of small local food makers, artisans and farmers with a single credit card transaction. Yes, this is the same technology that the big box stores are using, but we are making it affordable and manageable for us little guys.
DO I have to be a member? In order to complete our legal, insurance and tax requirements - we do require that you become a member with F&E before posting products online, and/or registering for our drop sites. You can do that here.
WHY will this work for farmer's markets and more? Frankly, what we've seen post COVID has our head's spinning. For instance, many Twin Cities farmer's markets are promoting their vendor pre-sales with a long list of websites. Customers have to jump from site to site, input their credit card multiple times and navigate a cadre of mismatched - sometimes unsecured - websites. That is BEFORE they don protective gear, load up on sanitizer and arrive on site. Times are tough enough already! Let's help your customers out! Especially as we know market attendance has been slipping, and our site was created to best support customers seeking pre-purchase for pick-up at farmers' markets across the Twin Cities.
CAN my farmer's market use this? Indeed, we have community memberships. Lots of info and all the benefits are right here.
WHAT is with the drop sites? With our drop sites, when a customer clicks on the market/neighborhood logo from our online store, all those products available for pick-up on the next collection day come up. Allowing the buyer to purchase dozens of products with a single credit card transaction. We also have uniform messaging helping the customer to understand cut-off times, and order-by deadlines.
Further, drops sites are ideal for sellers concerned about exposure to COVID in typical farmers market environments. Or those seeking to diversify customer sales by attracting audiences interested in the convenience of an online grocery store.
WHAT more can I do with this? Everything and anything you can do from your own online store, without the hassle of having to design, pay and administer it! We do the bulk of the promotions for you, too. Besides being your connection direct to farmer's market customers, we have customizations so your buyers can select doorstep delivery or you can even ship nationally. We also have unlimited listing opportunities, ability to pass commission, shipping and credit card fees along to the customer, sales tax reports, automatic inventory management, a professional and secure shopping cart and checkout process, printable invoices, recurring order and subscription customization, abandoned cart customer notifications and so much more. One shop can do it all, and we like that about our solution.
The site also offers customizations for store/market pick up, nationwide shipping and doorstep delivery. It can even offer your customers discounts, promo codes, and two for one buys. Read the specific benefits here.
WHO are F&E customers? Many are early adopters, others are seeking to avoid crowds, some are really into meal planning and reserving those special foods and goods; all have a real affinity for supporting local, small businesses. In general, we are seeing a 90% customer retention rate and an average customer sale of $60+. This blows away most in-person market's customer average of $15! Customers are seeing this site as a real full, comprehensive grocery shopping opportunity - especially with the wide range of products available. Truly, this is something we've worked hard to garner at in-person markets and we are excited about the possibilities.
NEW. F&E is now working with condos, apartments and senior living communities in the Twin Cities to collect from sellers during our drop site days, then deliver product from the aforementioned locations. Increasing your opportunities for sales; garnering you even more sales from a single drop day.
WHAT info do sellers get about customers and orders? Sellers receive all of the same customer information (email, shipping address and phone number) that our administration does; allowing you to manage your own customer relationships, and promote to these folks again and again. F&E provides the online tools to create your storefront and listings - everything else is up to you!
When a customer places an order, sellers receive immediate notification via email with the customer's name and the products they've purchased. Sellers are provided ship and pack lists, and can download customer orders via CSV file to accounting and customer management systems, too - or just to a spreadsheet. Sellers can also mark orders as fulfilled and contact their customers directly from the Seller Dashboard. You can also reject and refund orders.
WHAT is the customer experience like? Once a seller lists products, configures pick up, shipping and/or doorstep delivery, customers can then purchase via the sellers storefront and/or by clicking the product categories. Customers may also arrive at the site via promos related to our drop days, e.g. Linden Hills Farmers' Market. In cases like this, customers are provided information on pre-sales; such as pre-purchase Monday thru Thursday for Sunday pick up. If pick up isn't the customer's preferred collection method, they can select for products that are available for doorstep delivery and/or shipping.
Customer notifications, include; receipt of order and notification/reminder of pick up and logistics. F&E also provides notice to the customer if an order is rejected or refunded by the seller. Our promo work, includes; almost daily e-newsletters, boosted/sponsored Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts, earned and paid media.
Do I need to register for an F&E Drop Day to list products online? The site has customizations for doorstep delivery and shipping. Plus, you can use the site to drive pre-purchase traffic to any of your farmer's market pick ups. We know that market attendance has been slipping, and our site was created to best support customers seeking pre-purchase for pick-up at farmers' markets across the Twin Cities.
WHY wouldn't I just have my own online store? Other than the aforementioned, the value of multi-vendor marketplaces is the greatly increased customer traffic. With such a wide range of products listed, customers will come back again and again. Seriously, folks, if you understand the value of farmer's markets - then you will understand how an online marketplace is valued to a customer. One stop, not a dozen plus. It's secure, intuitive and looks professional, thereby competing with the Instacarts of the world. No more Google forms, or sites with copyrights from 2010, or blogs masquerading as sales sites - it's time to up our local grocery game. We think your customers are worth it. To see a side-by-side cost comparison see this spreadsheet.
WILL F&E host in-person markets this season? The normally in-person Linden Hills Farmers' Market is exclusively online this year. In the past we've held lots of other markets, too. Most of those are on-hold in 2020. As an F&E Member, you will receive notice when and if we offer in-person markets.
WHAT if I sell at more than one farmer's markets? You can list as many markets and dates that you want. Offering your customers the greatest amount of flexibility.
DOES it make sense to recommend this to fellow vendors at my in-person markets? We think so! We know that the greater number of vendors and the increased variety in a single location, really amplify this as a significant opportunity for customers. Customers have admitted to us that they've been frustrated with pre-sales where they've had to jump from site to site or email the seller to confirm they've received their order. Our site really professionalizes all that!
HOW much does it cost to participate? Does it compare to farmer's market fees? The average Twin Cities' farmer's market charges $30 a day to participate. We know that most vendors see revenue in the $300 to $500/day range. That equates to a 10% commission, on the low end of sales. And, of course, your stall fee is charged regardless of your sales. So if it rains, you are still out that money. An unfortunate reality, that sometimes doesn't play well with your bottom line. As farmer's market managers ourselves we know this. That is why we designed our drop sites, in coordination with our online marketplace, differently. To participate in Drop Days we charge just $5. Read more here.
With F&E Marketplace, it's free to get a storefront, a unique web address and list as many products as you like. Further, F&E enhanced our plan to allow sellers the lowest credit card processing and transactions fees available at 2.9% + .30 for credit card processing. We charge a very low 5.6% commission on your sales, and this is just to cover our costs. To be clear, this is far lower than most sites, where there is a monthly subscription and set up fees required, on top of sale's commissions. Etsy and Ebay easily go up over 10%, where sites like Postmates and GrubHub are at 30%. See our cost comparison of sites here.
By the way, a portion of our profits will go a different Midwest charitable organization every month! With this, customers are provided a round-up opportunity for a charity at the point of check out, and we think this is pretty cool, too.
HOW do I get paid? Payment happens fast via PayPal. F&E never handles your transactions, making payment easy and upon delivery.
HOW do I get started?
We are currently on-boarding sellers, and have launched our site to Linden Hills Farmers' Market customers. We have big plans for the week's ahead, and anticipate good things!