Providing CSA shares and pre-packaged boxes of your farm products — either as part of a recurring subscription or simply as a pre-boxed offering of seasonal selections — enables you to build stronger connections with customers, diversify your income, generate revenue early in the season, and continue feeding your community while respecting social distance recommendations and protecting your and your customers’ health and safety.
This article covers how to set up and manage these offerings in your Tend Online Store:
Selling CSA/Produce Boxes in Your Online Store
Every farm manages their CSA program differently according to their production systems and customer preferences. Below is a general overview of how these systems could be set up in a Tend Online Store. This foundation will help you get started — you can then customize as needed to tailor the system to your offerings and processes.
First, create your CSA subscription or other pre-boxed items in your Catalog by adding them as “Other” products.
1. If you offer various CSA share sizes and delivery/pickup options, include that information in the item name so customers will know exactly which option they’re selecting.
2. You may want to create a category for your items in your Farm Listing settings to organize your Online Store display. The picture below demonstrates how this category would appear in your store.
3. Add an image to display in the Store.
4. Select “Each” as the pack unit.
You’ll set the price for your items in the Catalog main page. Note that in the example below, the farm is offering both an assortment of CSA box subscriptions for the entire season and a box of seasonal selections for customers to purchase on a week-by-week basis.
Communicating with CSA Customers
CSA members may require more instruction and support than your other customer groups. Below are some tools for communicating with your CSA members and guiding them through a successful season with your farm.
Explaining Your CSA Program and Communicating Box Contents
It’s important to provide customers with an overview of your CSA program so they’ll have the information they need to select the right option and know what to expect once they’ve joined. Details customers will rely on you to provide include: how often they’ll receive their share, what share sizes you offer, the options for pickup/delivery days and locations, how you manage weeks when customers are out of town, and what products you’ll be offering over the season.
Your website is one of the first places customers will look for answers to these questions, so having a page dedicated to explaining your CSA program is a great way to attract prospective customers and provide members with the details of all that awaits them over the season. The more information you share, and the easier you make that information for your customers to find, the less time you spend in the office answering questions.
Once you’re ready to start signing up CSA members for the season, you can use the message tool in your Online Store to help shoppers understand and consider the options.
When a customer purchases a CSA share in your store, they’ll be prompted to enter their email address during check out, so you’ll be able to keep them up to date on CSA news and the contents of their weekly shares through newsletters, email updates, etc.
Offering Box Add-ons
Selling your farm goods through your Online Store makes offering add-ons to CSA boxes quick and easy. Whenever you send out a newsletter or other update to your CSA members, include the link to your Online Store, where they can purchase add-on items in addition to their weekly share. Encourage your customers to leave a note when they place their order to clarify that the purchase is a CSA add-on (this is particularly important for shared CSA memberships where you may not recognize one of the customers’ names in the billing information).
Tend Tip: Streamline your add-on orders by aligning your Online Store order windows and delivery dates with your CSA pickup/delivery dates and locations. Let your CSA members know which window is available for them to place their add-on orders, so you have the lead time you need to incorporate those orders into your CSA pick and pack process.
Please note that, while Tend is optimized for farmers’ direct-to-consumer sales streams, the platform is not a specialized CSA management platform. If your customers want to make further customizations to their weekly shares, they’ll need to coordinate that with you directly.
Keep reading for more information on how to offer flexible CSA options to your customers through Tend.
Preparing Boxes for Pickup/Delivery
Because your CSA box contents are not recurring purchases made through your Online Store, they will not be included in the pick and pack lists that you export from the Store feature. This means you will have to manage your CSA pick lists separately from your other Online Store orders, though any add-on items your customers purchase in the Online Store will automatically flow into your pick and pack lists.
Please also note that any pre-packaged collections of products you offer your customers will not be itemized in your pick and pack lists. For example, if you offer a box of “Seasonal Selections” for sale each week, this item will appear in your pick and pack lists based on the item name you assigned it in your Catalog. You’ll need to specify the items needed to fill the box with your crew separately.
Selling Farm Shares and Gift Cards
Through our integration with Square, we’re able to offer several options for selling gift cards or farm credit. This is a great way to offer opportunities for supporting your farm (for example, as part of a flexible “farm share” CSA offering) to folks who may not be able to commit to a traditional, boxed CSA share and to help customers spread the word about your business through gift cards.
Creating Gift Cards for Your Online Store
Square offers customizable digital and physical gift cards that can only be used in your store — this includes your Online Store and any farmers market stand or farm stores where you accept payments through Square.
Creating gift cards in Square is quick and easy. Check out this article for more information, and log into your Square account to get started setting up your gift or farm share cards in a few easy steps.
How it Works
You can create Catalog items for your gift and farm share cards as you would for any non-produce item you sell through your store (see above for a quick overview, or reference this article for more detailed instructions on managing your store Catalog).
Once your Catalog items are created, you can offer the cards for sale in your store. When customers purchase them, you’ll create the digital gift card or load the physical card with the corresponding amount of credit.
Once the customer receives their digital or physical card, they’ll be able to redeem that card in your store instead of paying with a credit card.
Tend Tip: Each card has an identification number. Keep a record of the numbers associated with your customers’ farm share cards so you can check the balance and reissue any card that a customer misplaces.