Interest in using software platforms for sales increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as many food distribution channels faced challenges. Sales software can facilitate and support direct sales to consumers, allowing growers to try different marketing channels and experiment with how they reach their community.
Whether you want to start selling through an online storefront, manage a community-supported agriculture (CSA) operation, or manage sales and distribution from the farm or a farmer’s market, many options are available.
Point-of-sale systems handle customer payments, help manage sales, and track inventory. Block (formerly known as Square), Shopify, Clover, and QuickBooks Desktop Point of Sale are just a few. These are all generic platforms that are not specific to farming.
Some sales platforms created for farms with direct sales are described in table 1. Each offers an e-commerce storefront, including credit card processing and offline payments, some accounting features/integrations, some marketing features/integrations, and distribution management features.
There are some up-front costs to implementing any of these platforms, including the introductory cost of the product as well as the initial time spent entering your farm’s information. Some platforms offer the option to input your information and perform most of the initial setup for an additional fee. When considering the costs associated with using these products, it is important to think about the potential value the product could add to your operation. There is certainly value to your time as a business owner, and these products can often help owners overcome hardships they face in scaling up their farm business.
Not every generic E-commerce product and farm- specific platform is included in table 1, as there are many. Farmers should research which platform may work best for their operation and use the information provided in this publication as an introduction to farm- specific sales platforms.
Table 1. Comparison of Sales Platforms for Farms with Direct Sales
|Platform||Pricing Style||Credit Card Transaction Fee||CSA Management|
|Barn2Door||Monthly fee + setup fee||Yes||No|
|Farmigo||% of sales with monthly minimum||Not specified||Yes|
|Food4All||% per order with maximum charge||Yes||Yes, for additional fee|
|Harvie||% of sales + setup fee||Yes||Yes|
|Local Food Marketplace||Setup fee + monthly fee||Not specified||Yes, an add-on module|
|Local Line||Monthly fee||Not specified||Yes|
|MarketGardenPro||Free basic plan or $10/month||Not specified||No|
|Open Food Network||Donation-based pricing||Not specified; limited payment methods||No|
Jessie Rowan, Regional Extension Agent, Farm and Agribusiness Management, Auburn University
New October 2022, Introduction to Farm-to-Customer Sales Software, ANR-2933