A Guide for Direct Sales to Consumers during COVID-19 and Beyond
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During these unprecedented times, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) recognizes that it is not ‘business as usual’. We hope to provide some support and guidance to help you continue to sell and market your agricultural products. Alternative Market Channels for Selling Your Products Regardless of whether your business is considered an essential workplace, all businesses can continue to sell goods and services, so long as they do so through teleworking, online, telephone, and delivery. Some potential options are: 1. Direct farm gate sales, using the above preventative measures. 2. Online sales for farm-gate pick-up or delivery. 3. Partner with other local businesses to offer a local box delivery. 4. Partner with local restaurants who still offer food delivery services and takeout. 5. If you have surplus food, consider donating to a local food bank or community food program and you may be able to claim an income tax credit. General Health and Safety Protocols for Selling Direct • Wash hands regularly and thoroughly for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. • Clean and disinfect all surfaces regularly. • Practice social distancing by keeping 6 feet or 2 metres between yourself and others. • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. • Continue to monitor the Public Health website for updates regarding current health and safety protocols and policies. Promote the use of the online Self-Assessment Tool. Workplaces with Employees • If you are looking for HR support, download the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) AgriHR Toolkit. To receive a free access, use the code: OFA-Toolkit. • CAHRC also has a regularly updated COVID-19 webpage with information about managing your farm when employees are sick, calling in sick to work, or not showing up for work. Setting Up Your Space • Set-up your operation so that people can maneuver the space using social distancing. • Offer your products pre-packaged to reduce contact. • Consider offering a space for handwashing or hand-sanitization. • Provide self-serve freezers or other methods to reduce your need to be present, and sanitize all areas between customers. • Do not allow customers to sample food or use reusable containers. • Do not provide communal areas or seating to stay on site. • Offer contactless payment through Apple Pay or other tap/touchless payment methods, e-Transfer, pre-purchasing online. If you do accept cash, ensure it is properly sanitized. Marketing Your Operation • When promoting your farm gate, encourage people to stay home if they are not feeling well. • Encourage customers to pre-order so that their visit is as brief as possible. • Provide a list of the health and safety measures you have in place, so that customers are more at ease visiting your farm. • Tell your story! Many consumers want to support farmers during these difficult times. • Promote the health benefits of your products. You are providing fresh, local food or agricultural products that are good for your customers health and well-being. • Pivot your business model to focus on essential products instead of luxury items. Your product may also double as a health product, or there may be a related value-added product that could be useful during this time. For example, many distillers are using their resources to develop hand sanitizer, which is in short supply. • Get creative! Use social media for giveaways, encourage your followers to ‘take the [insert product here] challenge’, promote a fun activity related to your product, or consider a charitable/social good promotional initiative. Many people are on social media and are looking for ways to help and support others and lift their spirits! Local Line: An Online Sales Platform Local Line is an online platform that helps farmers sell directly to consumers. Local Line’s e-commerce, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), inventory and logistics platform helps enable producers to control their own brand and grow their business on their terms. OFA members receive the following benefits: • A 30-day free trial and 20% off the first-year subscription. • A free website builder, free account set-up, and free Quickbooks integration. To sign-up, visit https://www.localline.ca/signup and enter your OFA number in the referral code box. To learn more about Local Line, watch the OFA webinar or visit Local Line’s website.