Most of the food we eat today takes a long, arduous journey across the country – and oftentimes around the world – before finally landing on our plates.
COVID-19 has shown us how fragile today’s food systems are. We’ve seen how our large, complex supply chains can break down, leaving empty supermarket shelves, food wastage, the shutdown of processing plants, and terminated exports.
The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of establishing strong, local food systems with transparent supply chains. Many of us already knew the benefits of locally sourced food. Today, it’s never been more clear or more urgent how we must redefine the way we eat. Local foods can benefit producers, suppliers, and consumers everywhere, in every community.
Introducing Local Food Marketplace
Local Food Marketplace is software that helps farmers and food hubs plan, sell, and distribute local food.
The company stands for sustainability, empowering local businesses, and arming local food producers with technology to succeed – core values that are exactly aligned with what Routific stands for.
“It’s really a watershed moment for local food systems. COVID-19 has brought on so many challenges for everyone, but it’s also been really exciting to see how farms, food hubs, and online marketplaces have really embraced the opportunity,” said Amy McCann, co-founder and CEO of Local Food Marketplace.
“We want to help farms, food hubs, and online marketplaces be uniquely prepared and positioned to serve the community during this public health emergency and gain loyal customers at the same time.”
What does Local Food Marketplace do?
Local Food Marketplace (LFM) is comprehensive software that allows you to set up a branded online storefront with a full back end system for managing all of your sales and distribution, whether you are a wholesaler, retailer, or CSA operation.
LFM helps you:
- Save time: Saves 16-32 hours a week of admin time PLUS packing efficiencies
- Sell more: 45% sales growth pre-COVID (250% since)
- Save money: No per producer or transaction fees for markets
One of LFM’s greatest strengths is how flexible the software is when adapting to various business models within the local food system. There’s lots of room for customization and optionality. If you have sales to multiple types of customers, for example, you can tailor the buying experience for each within the LFM platform by customizing pricing, order deadlines, delivery/pick up options, order minimums, and payment types accepted.
An internal dashboard also allows you to look at your orders in aggregate, and keep watch over your sales and revenue numbers. The system also has the ability to send marketing and transactional emails to your customers or to your local food producers.
When you’re ready to pick and pack your orders, LFM helps to keep you organized with picking and packing lists, along with the ability to print shipping labels.
How LFM and Routific work together
Home delivery services have been growing in popularity over the last few years, but demand really shot up since COVID-19 began.
The ability to plan and manage delivery routes can now be done via an integration with Routific, which enables you to easily export and import data between the two systems.
David and Marla Nowacoski have a small diversified farm in Pennsylvania and are the founders of Delivered Fresh, an online grocery store that aggregates products from 57 local farmers and delivers to hundreds of homes every week.
Delivered Fresh offers more than 500 products, ranging from milk, bread, eggs, meats, and vegetables. They’re also selling personal health products like soap, sanitizer, and masks.
“We had significant growth as soon as the pandemic began. We were up 500% literally overnight. We are closing in on a million dollars of revenue for local farms that might have otherwise been spent in big box grocery stores,” David said.
“Our customers needed a safe and convenient way to receive their groceries, and they wanted to invest in our local food system. It was incredibly motivating to help small farms distribute their products.”
Delivered Fresh carries out its home deliveries on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday every week. Tuesday is when David typically starts his route planning.
"I honestly do not think we could be in business without both platforms. They are literally the backbone of our shop,” David said.
“LFM provides me with an attractive storefront and back office reports that are absolutely critical for my business to perform,” he explained. Specifically, David said the ability to see sales by products and sales by each individual farm allows him to isolate how a particular vendor has impacted his business. “And then Routific makes sure that I’m able to get all my produce delivered to where it needs to go, on time and when a customer expects it to arrive.”
When it came to managing his delivery logistics, David said he tried a number of different route optimization systems but ended up choosing Routific.
“The one thing that stood out when I tried Routific was just how intuitive it was. With the other platforms, I needed someone to help guide me to set it all up. With Routific, I started my free trial and literally in less than an hour, I had my routes,” he said.
“It’s not efficient for me to give my drivers a list and just say ‘go.’ We’re trying to get to 30 to 50 stops a day. In a rural area; they’re on the road for a full 8 hours a day. It has to be optimized. The drivers need to know where to go and the most efficient routes to go there.”
Making local food mainstream
Today, the LFM platform supports more than 9,300 food hubs, online markets, farms, and co-ops across North America. McCann co-founded LFM in 2009, after running a food hub for more than five years. Since COVID-19 began, LFM has doubled the number of local producers on their platform to 9,300 and growing.
“We’ve spent the last decade understanding how local food folks do business,” McCann said. “Now is the time for us to make local food mainstream. Technology is key to helping us do that.”