A lot of farmers and food makers are doing happy dances this week. We launched to lots of friendly faces with the Linden Hills Farmer's Market, and it's clear folks are ready to buy local, online and pick up contact-free.
If you are ready to make the leap to selling online, and meet-and-greet new audiences - we've the Pick Up Markets for you! Just announced: F&E is taking over the Excelsior-Minnetonka Farmer's Market, and we've just confirmed a Pre-Sale with Pick Up Market in the Highland Park Neighborhood of St. Paul. This provides farmers and food makers access to tens of thousands of new buyers, a fast and safe method to provide your products and an affordable method to achieve sustainability during these COVID times.
To participate in Pre-Sales for the Highland Park Village Market, register here >
To participate in Pre-Sales (later transitioning to in-person) for Excelsior Farmer's Market, register here >
We've been getting lots of great questions in recent days, and thought it best to get them answered right here.
WHO does this work for?
This is ideal for farmers of; produce, value add and proteins. Packaged and cottage food makers for people and pets. Baked goods, take-n-bake and/or frozen foods; including meal-kits, and subscriptions & more.
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 then you'll personally ship, deliver or offer market or curb side pick up. 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.
WHY will this work for farmer's markets and more?
Frankly, what we've seen in recent days has our head's spinning. For instance, many Twin Cities farmer's markets are promoting their market pre-sales with a long list of vendor 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 and arrive on site. Times are tough enough already! Let's help your customers out!
F&E Marketplace values your time, and that of your customers differently. Simply, when a customer clicks on the market/neighborhood logo from our marketplace homepage, all those products available for pick-up at that market 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. Easy, right?
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.
Do I need to register for an F&E in-person market to list products here? Did I have to sell with you before this year? You do not. Our store is for any Minnesota and/or Wisconsin permitted food maker or grower. 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 and professional promotions. 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.
WILL F&E host in-person markets this season? F&E is offering quick drive through neighborhood markets specific to those vendors that sold product online that week at the F&E Marketplace. Online sellers would drop off any pre-sold product for customer pick up at a drive through location handled by just one or two people. We are calling these "Trunk Sales." Super safe, and a terrific way to include as many vendors as possible.
Our Pre-Sale & Pick-Up Markets include the following neighborhoods: Linden Hills (via the Linden Hills Farmer's Market), Excelsior-Minnetonka (via the Excelsior Farmer's Market) and the Highland Park Neighborhood of Saint Paul.
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. This is unique to online stores, and a customization you don't have to pay more to tap into, like Squarespace.
HOW much does it cost? 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 online marketplace differently. We don't get paid unless you make money. Pretty novel this!
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 2.4% + .30 for credit card processing. Plus, F&E is waiving our commission in May. Starting in June we will charge a very low 5.6% commission on your sales, and this is just 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%.
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. We are currently featuring Wildflyer Coffee.
HOW do I get paid? Payment happens fast via PayPal. F&E never handles your transactions, making payment easy and upon delivery. When customers place an order, you get notified and when they receive your product - you get paid.
WHAT about these PreSale & Pick Up Markets? These hybrid markets are exclusive to vendor drive up, drop off, and then customers pick up contact free. All sales are conducting online with the Frank & Ernest platform. To be clear, vendors are not on site and selling. We will be reevaluating over the summer to see if there is a time when a more traditional market could be hosted, whereby social distancing could still be respected. No foods will be made on site, or consumed on site. F&E will work with food trucks and ready-to-eat vendors to create opportunities for their participation.
LOCATIONS: the Highland Park Neighborhood in Saint Paul, the Excelsior Farmer's Market and Linden Hills Farmer's Market. We are also looking at other opportunities in more neighborhoods. If you are interested in hosting a pick up market in your neighborhood - let us know!
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!