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In Edible-Alpha® podcast #94, Tera chats with James Maiocco, chief operations officer at Barn2Door, a Seattle-based provider of software and services that help farmers grow and manage direct sales. The company was already growing fast before COVID-19. But now, with even more farmers looking to direct-market and more consumers embracing e-commerce and seeking out local products, Barn2Door’s business is booming.
Before founding the company six years ago, CEO Janelle Maiocco started an online marketplace to connect chefs and consumers with local farmers. But she soon realized the marketplace concept didn’t fully meet farmers’ needs or facilitate direct farmer-buyer relationships, so she scrapped that business and launched Barn2Door. With this innovative new model, farmers pay a software fee but keep 100% of their sales and totally own their relationships with customers.
James says that nine out of 10 consumers want to buy local, but they just don’t know how to discover farmers. That’s why Barn2Door teaches farmers—many of whom are new to e-commerce and intimidated by everything it entails—how to be discovered, accessible, engaging and easy to purchase from so they can cultivate recurring sales and enduring one-on-one relationships with buyers.
On the software side, Barn2Door’s turnkey solutions help farmers manage their products, reach customers and conduct transactions through multiple channels and touchpoints. The most successful farmers, James says, do business on two to three channels, such as email, social media or Nextdoor. Barn2Door’s close partnerships with Mailchimp, Square Space and other entities enable seamless integration among channels, ultimately saving farmers time, money and headaches.
These partnerships also allow Barn2Door to capture a wealth of data, which it readily shares with farmers to help them make better-informed decisions on sales and marketing strategies. Whether it’s which packaging sizes or product mixes sell best, how frequent blog posts should be, how many calls to action they need per webpage, or how much farmers can charge for delivery, data are available to guide them.
But of course, Barn2Door’s work entails a lot more than backend engineering and numbers. Knowing that every farmer’s situation, priorities and goals are unique, the company assigns each an account manager who works closely with them to strategize the best tactics to implement for success. Barn2Door also offers virtual bootcamps and academies for further education and to foster farmers learning from one another.
This is just a teaser of Tera and James’s conversation! He shares a bunch of valuable insights throughout this podcast—and even a few data-supported marketing tips that can make a big difference in any farmer’s business.