After 10 years of providing fresh, organic produce on Norwich market, Shelley and Robert Folland...
10 Steps to Starting a Food Box Scheme
Research: Research the local market and competition. Identify potential customers and their preferences. Estimate the demand for different types of fruits and vegetables in your area.
Ooooby tip: Visit your local farmer’s market and speak to the stallholders (this can also help with finding suppliers)
Ooooby tip: Carry out a mapping exercise of the food retailers in your surrounding area and look for the gaps.
Supplier Relationships: Establish relationships with local suppliers and wholesalers who can supply you regularly.
Ooooby tip: Find local growers/producers by searching online and on Instagram and Facebook. Get in touch and find out if they can supply you.
Ooooby tip: Pay suppliers promptly for their products. This helps build trust between you and the supplier and maintaining good relationships with your suppliers is invaluable.
Business Plan: Develop a business plan that includes all the details about the scheme, such as the subscription model, payment process, delivery process, and marketing strategy.
Ooooby tip: A business plan doesn’t have to be a 20 page document. To begin with you might want to keep things simple by using a business model canvas
Customer payments: Reduce your weekly admin tasks by setting up an automated customer payment system.
Ooooby tip: The Ooooby system provides simple customer payment management features.
5. Online visibility: Create a website that showcases your products and services. Make it easy for customers to browse your product catalogue and subscribe to your service.
Ooooby tip: The Ooooby platform gives you a customisable website, as well as a backend system. You can even use your own domain name.
6. Delivery Service: Establish a reliable delivery system to deliver the veg box to customers. Design the system to ensure timely delivery.
Ooooby tip: As well as home delivery, try to offer at least one collection point for people who live outside your delivery boundary but want to order from you. See how the Ooooby system provides simple order management features for food box businesses.
Ooooby tip: It can be tricky to find insurance for a delivery vehicle but there are insurers out there. One example is NFU Mutual
7. Communication: Establish effective communication with your customers through email newsletters, social media, and other communication channels.
Ooooby tip: Send a ‘sneak peek’ email to your customers a couple of days before orders close, including a link to their dashboard, highlights of what’s available next week and a reminder of the order deadline.
8. Keep it simple: Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Keep your product range simple and clear.
Ooooby tip: One or two box sizes might be enough to begin with and you can always increase your range as you receive customer feedback as to what they’d like.
Ooooby tip: Seek out a local baker and egg supplier and offer those products as add-ons to your veg box to begin with.
9. Feedback: Encourage customer feedback and act on it to improve your service. Listen to customers’ preferences and suggestions and incorporate them into the scheme.
Ooooby tip: When they sign up, ask customers where they heard about you. If a customer cancels, ask them why. This is all great feedback to help with marketing and service. The Ooooby system enables you to add these automated surveys as part of the customer sign up and cancellation process.
10. Ask for advice: Ask other local food box operators for advice. In our experience they’re a very friendly bunch!
Ooooby tip: Read case studies of two very different box scheme operators here and here.
Ooooby tip: Joining networks of like-minded people is really useful for learning the ropes. The Ooooby network of box schemes is a great resource.
Book in a call with Ooooby for further advice and to take a look at how the Ooooby system can help you.