We've got some good news for folks who are using Small Farm Central's e-commerce and those who are thinking about starting it up. We've just completed a wide variety of upgrades and new features to really expand your capabilities to sell your products and services through your web site. Log in to your site and see what you think!
Here are some of the highlights:
Live Shipping Calculation for UPS, FedEx, and USPS:
Your customers will now see a variety of shipping options, whichever ones you've chosen out of UPS, FedEx, and USPS services. When your customer checks out, the cart shows the live-calculated retail rates for those shippers.
You can now create coupons to pass to your customers that can be for a percentage discount, flat amount discount, or for free shipping. You have full control over what dates and times the coupon is valid for and for what minimum amount of order.
Live Credit Card Processing:
You now have another option for setting up your checkout - live credit card processing through Authorizenet. Whatever credit cards your merchant account is set up to receive, you can limit on your checkout page. Small Farm Central will be happy to help you set up a merchant account through Authorizenet and configure secure server encryption protocols for your web site. Payments made through Authorizenet or PayPal are also now recorded for your users in the Payments and Balances administration.
"Sold Out" Messages:
Many of you have mentioned that you would like to still show customers "what they missed" when your inventory runs out of product. Now, under your Departments administration, you can set your own message to display when items, or even just specific options below items, sell out.
Streamlined Item and Inventory Management:
Instead of having to go to multiple areas to create an item and also put that item into your stores' inventories, now you can do it all at once: either through the new item creation/edit page or the new inventory management page.
Even items with options can be updated all at once to save you time. It is easier than ever to get away from the computer and back out farming!
If you have any questions or concerns at all about how to get started with the new tools, please give us a call at 412.567.3864 or email us.
Does one of your customers have a remaining balance that you'd like to remind them about (and receive?!) It's easy to send payment requests through Member Assembler. Here's how:
1. Head to Member Assembler in your Control Panel and click on Accounting / Payment Request.
2. Click on Add New Payment Request in the yellow bar.
3. Walk through the questions.
- What Type of Payment Request is this? Is this a set amount? (do you need a customer to pay set amount such as $100?) or is this a percentage? (would you like your customer to pay a percentage of their remaining balance such as 50%). If you want them to pay all of their remaining balance, use 100%.
- User Must Have Type: Did you want this payment request to go out to everyone? (No Member Type Narrowing); or just to your ½ shares? The pull down menu will populate all the member types you offer.
- Payment Request Email Subject: Enter in the subject title for the email (For example: Remaining Balance info for your CSA
Now it's time to draft what the email will say. You’ll see some crazy looking variables (like this: %%primary-member-name%%) Don't delete these. These will populate for each of your members.
For this example, your member's name will be populated between the %%)) There a number of different variables you can add:
%%primary-member-name%% - The name of the primary user in the membership.
%%payment-request-amount%% - The amount of the payment request.
%%current-balance%% - The balance of the membership before any payment has been made.
%%cc-payment-url%% - A unique link to your website for the member to pay online with Paypal or Member Assembler payments (Authorize.net). Remember to delete this variable if you are not using credit card processing.
%%member-id%% - The unique number that identifies a particular member.
When you're asking for a request for payment, you could enter this into the body of your email:
%%primary-member-name%%, We are requesting a payment of %%payment-request-amount%%. Your current balance is %%current-balance%%. Click the following link to pay online with your credit card: %%cc-payment-url%%
Your Farm Name here.
4. Click on Save and Select Users
This next screen, you'll get to see a preview of what your message is going to look like. If you see anything you'd like to change, click on "edit this payment request" in the yellow box. The final step is to select the members that should receive the payment request. This list should be populated from your “User Must Have Type:” section, from the previous screen. Simply click on the box to 'check' it, next to any of the names you'd like the email to go to.
Click on Send Email to send the email.
Still need help? We're happy to answer questions. Give us a call at 412.567.3864 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I know not too many of you are in Pittsburgh, but we're putting together a screening of the new documentary about young farmers called 'The Greenhorns' on October 6th at the Melwood Screening Room. I've met Severine (the creator of the movie) at various farm conferences over the years -- I think everyone at these conferences meets Severine. She has the kind of personality that meets everyone.
"The Greenhorns documentary film, completed after almost 3 years in production, explores the lives of America's young farming community - its spirit, practices, and needs. It is the filmmaker's hope that by broadcasting the stories and voices of these young farmers, we can build the case for those considering a career in agriculture - to embolden them, to entice them, and to recruit them into farming." -- from the Greenhorns website.
The screening will include a happy hour featuring local food & brews and proceeds will benefit Grow Pittsburgh.
Here are details about our screening.
Here is the trailer:
We hope you are having a productive high harvest season! It feels like things are turning just slightly towards Autumn, so it's time to start thinking about your 2012 CSA sign-up.
When possible, it is smart to capture your CSA customers commitment for 2012 while the taste of ripe tomatoes are still fresh in their mouths. It may be tempting to not think about CSA sign-up until February or March, but if you can get that deposit now you are in a much better position to retain more of your membership from year-to-year.
Member Assembler (our CSA membership management tool) has the concept of "seasons" so each time it is time to start a new sign-up period you will create a new "season" that holds all of the information for those shares. This archives older data (which you can access when needed), allows you to create new pickup locations, new prices, and allows returning members to sign up again.
For a full explanation on how to create seasons, go here: http://www.smallfarmcentral.com/memberassembler/help/creating-new-seasons
When do you start your sign-up process? If you wait until the Spring, what are the factors that stop you from starting sign-up a the end of summer?
You probably won't be surprised to learn that everyone at Small Farm Central gets a CSA share each week. Not only do we love to support our local farmers, but we all enjoy meeting the challenge of creating delicious meals that feature whatever seasonal treats might show up in our vegetable boxes.
Our new web developer, Mike Cuccaro, especially loves playing "Iron Chef" with his CSA box every week, where he tries to quickly use everything in his share and not much else in preparing his food for the week. He thinks it would be fun to stage an "Iron Chef" type of event where two or three chefs are given the same CSA box, with two hours to prepare a meal that features everything in it.
An event like this could be a great way to raise money for a local charity, while providing an innovative way for farmers to connect to their communities. Have you ever hosted any kind of food or cooking event on your farm? Tell us what you think!
The Small Farm Central team celebrated National Farmers Market Week (August 7-13) with a visit to one of Pittsburgh's largest and busiest places to buy locally grown food -- the East Liberty Farmers Market, managed by Pittsburgh Cityparks. You can meet some of the friendly local farmers by visiting the market's new Farming Faces site here:
We enjoyed having the opportunity to get to know some of our local farmers better, and use Farming Faces to extend western Pennsylvania's agricultural community beyond the marketplace.
Fine Family Apiary
Sand Hill Berries
Who Cooks for You Farm
We are excited to announce the latest tool in your farm marketing toolbelt; Farming Faces allows farmers markets (and other groups of farmers) to quickly create an online directory & map of their vendors and farmers.
Your site might look a little bit like this:
View this site in your browser: http://pittsburghpublic.farmingfaces.com
Forward this email on to your market manager!
While you are busy in the fields, with your markets, and supplying your CSA, we are working on some bigger projects including upgrading our email system, revamping the ecommerce functionality, and creating a whole new service called "Farming Faces".
Farming Faces serves groups of farmers such as farmers markets, cooperatives, and advocacy organizations enabling these organizations to develop a mini-site that maps their farmer members and keeps end-consumers up-to-date on what is happening on these farms through a news feed.
This is not a national directory of farms like LocalHarvest et al. This is a tool for individual markets and other groups of farmers to market and keep their customers informed.
Some key features:
In essence, we are creating a service that will keep customers highly engaged and informed without extra work for farmers. Also it's just plain fun to see a map of farmers in a particular market to understand foodshed. This is a powerful tool for markets and other farming groups!
Here is a rough screenshot of one of the test sites we are working on:
We've been working on this project for a while and plan to have a beta version out by early August. Let us know if you are a market or other group that wants a first shot at using the service!
Member types allow you to model your CSA and pricing structure with the Member Assembler. For example, a member type might be "2011 Egg Share" with the following options:
That last option "No, egg share" has been our recommended way to create an optional member type. An optional member type is a share that you are selling to your members that is not a requirement to join the CSA -- it is an add-on. We have gotten some feedback that having to select 'No, egg share' was not a preferred solution for our farmers and there is a need for optional member types.
We just made some changes that will allow this and if you go to edit your member types, you will now find an 'optional' checkbox.
We hope this change streamlines your sign-up process!