Local artisanal treats, unique handicrafts, vintage goods, farm-fresh produce and organic ingredients — these are some things that you’d look forward to buying every week at the farmers’ market. As services like AmazonFresh and FreshDirect have begun offering on-demand delivery, local business owners think it might gradually change consumer habits.
The demand for online grocery shopping and delivery is substantial. In the Survey of Local Food Marketing Practices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service found that U.S. producers utilized online marketplaces to sell US$171,728,337 of local food and value-added products in 2015. Nielsen and Food Marketing Institute estimate that the online grocery delivery industry could grow to as much as $100 billion, or 20 percent of grocery sales, by 2025.
Many online marketplaces that complement the physical farmers’ markets and flea markets have emerged, and they catch on quickly because they serve a hyper local market and solve logistic concerns. For community members who don’t have the time or resources to visit the local market during its operating hours, online marketplaces are a godsend. Typically, these online platforms allow deliveries and have an option for customers to pick up their order at a designated pickup spots, giving people more flexibility to shop.
While the focus still lies on sustainability and community, there are many ways local markets can achieve that through online marketplace technology. Here are 4 awesome examples of online marketplace technology being used to benefit local farmers, artisans and producers:
This online farmers’ market delivers seafood, meats, produce, dairy and other products to Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. By working directly with small family farmers in their communities they are able to source the freshest produce and give farmers a larger share of the retail prices. So instead of having to worry about profitability and the produce’s ability to survive shipment, farmers can now focus on sustainable quality produce. OurHarvest also has a meal donation program, whereby it donates a meal to a food bank for every order over $25.
This San Francisco startup raised $15 million in July 2016 to expand its operations, following a rapid expansion that led to a crash and layoffs in 2015. The marketplace sells artisan foods and fresh produce from the Bay Area. As hand-selecting fresh items is an important part of grocery shopping, Good Eggs knows not to compromise on quality and relationships. The website tells the story of each farm or producer, and Good Eggs works directly with local farms, delivering most of the produce within 24 hours of harvest. Recently, Good Eggs has also begun offering dinner kits for easy weeknight dinners.
Artists & Fleas
First established in 2003 as a weekend market in Williamsburg, New York, Artists & Fleas has branched out to Chelsea Market, Soho, Los Angeles, and online. A&F has gained such a cult following of artists, designers, and entrepreneurs that there was demand from vintage collectors and trend-spotters from other faraway cities. In the spirit of old world marketplaces, its online marketplace sells a curated collection of jewelry, fashion & accessories, home, hobby & food, art & design.
Artists & Fleas Williamsburg. Photo credit: Fleamapket.
Red Hills Online Market
Products grown and produced within a 100 mile radius of Tallahassee can be found through the Red Hills Online Farmers Market. This online market is an initiative by the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance, a nonprofit committed to helping small farms in the Red Hills region. Customers can shop from the RHO website or mobile app, and the produce will be picked up or delivered on Thursday afternoons. True to its farm-to-table philosophy, RHO prides itself in bringing produce that is at its peak nutritional value and taste. The market encourages consumers to get to know the local farmers to foster learning and accountability.
There are hundreds more great online farmers’ markets and online cooperatives that support small to mid-size farms. If you’re thinking of setting up an online marketplace for fresh produce or artisanal goods from your locality, Arcadier can provide you with the technology so you can focus on supporting your community.