We devised and designed a system in 2 weeks and went live last week. The whole concept is to keep customers, producers and organisers away from each other whilst offering an outlet for producers. They can continue to keep selling their produce to customers who want to be able to purchase good quality local produce and get away from the new normal waiting game of ‘inconvenience’ shopping. In addition we have a team of volunteer drivers willing to deliver orders to the elderly and self-isolation or those who simply cannot get out.
Customers order on line (www.shipbournefm.co.uk) and have a choice of around 10 -12 stallholders and well over 100 lines of produce to choose from. The market ‘opens’ online on a Saturday and closes down on Tuesday and Wednesday as some producers require more time to make/bake/cook.
The system breaks down customers orders and are sent to individual producers. The producers bring their individual customer orders to the market early on a Thursday morning. They just drop off and disappear. Our ‘order management team’ comprises the family of the chairman of our Parish Council which then takes over. They merge all the individual orders into the original customer order and place on a long line of tables.
Customers are emailed a 'pick- up’ schedule (around 7 per 10 minutes). They stop 10m away from the ‘market’, open their boots and get back in their car and drive to the pick-up area. They display their order no from the car to a marshal who shouts it out to our order pickers (another family group) who then find, pick the order and put it in the customers boot. The customer drives off.
We started last week. We had over 150 orders including 40 deliveries. Our baker sold out. Our livestock farmer was inundated which has meant we have had to have a major internal review of how we sell in these times.
Although Shipbourne is small in terms of population we are so fortunate in having such a large number of volunteers which has enabled us to keep our producers in business and food customers happy. The project has been supported by local Parish Councils and Harry Rainer, our Kent County Councillor.