TECHNOLOGY

Agriculture platform connects local biz with consumers

BY Dan Berthiaume

Online community supported agriculture (CSA) service Skarsgard Farms is helping small produce suppliers sell to consumers across New Mexico.

Since 2008, Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Skarsgard Farms has been leveraging the cloud-based produce delivery solution from Delivery Biz Pro. A subsidiary of Australia-based global delivery management platform GetSwift, Delivery Biz Pro enables Skarsgard Farms to provide e-commerce capabilities for local fresh food businesses, such as farms, ranches, dairies, and bakeries.

“We use Delivery Biz Pro across the entire state of New Mexico to deliver 275 SKUs from micro-producers, ranging from strawberries to eggs to steak,” said Monte Skarsgard, owner of Skarsgard Farms. “Most of these producers are far too small to get shelf space at Whole Foods or a traditional grocer.”

Skarsgard Farms provides four differently sized prepared boxes of fresh food items, which consumers can customize and order online. Shoppers can also select and order items a la carte. Currently, Skarsgard Farms is able to handle all administrative functions, such as routing, billing, and printing reports and invoices, with only 1.5 full-time employees using the Delivery Biz Pro platform.

“We would need four to five people handling administrative tasks without Delivery Biz Pro,” commented Skarsgard. “We also eliminate human error from the process.”

Skarsgard Farms also leverages Delivery Biz Pro capabilities to collect customer data for targeted email marketing efforts. For example, any customer who has ever ordered tomatoes (placing an order requires supplying an email address) can be sent an email announcing a new arrival of heirloom tomatoes, with a link to make a purchase.

Each supplier has a profile on the Skarsgard Farms e-commerce site with a bio section, photos, and a list of their available products. Suppliers can log in to update their product listings.

“The Delivery Biz Pro technology allows us to reach customers and suppliers in an optimal way, saving time and costs, resulting in many more customers and suppliers in the mix,” said Skarsgard. We allow many businesses to grow from part-time local farmers’ market operators to full-time producers reaching customers across the state. They can go from being a hobby producer in their kitchen to year-round business. One of our bakers is now able to buy a new building.”

Skarsgard estimates that since first implementing Delivery Biz Pro, he has seen sales triple with half as many employees now working.

“We started with 150 customers, and now have 600,” he stated. “We peaked at 1,200, but lost some due to more competition in our space. However, moving from static boxes to customized boxes meant the average order went from $28 to $56.25. With a higher average ticket, we can grow sales with fewer customers.”

In addition, Skarsgard Farms can profile delivery routes and identify the most profitable ones with the most deliveries per hour. An auto-routing feature automatically analyzes where products are being delivered and compares the data to maps stored in the back end.

Looking ahead, Skarsgard plans to expand his company’s operational scope while making customer communications more personalized.

“We are going to integrate with UPS for out-of-state deliveries,” he said. “We also want to offer on-demand delivery via actionable SMS texts which would remind customers who are due for a delivery and allow them to automatically place an order.”

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