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Farmer's Market Online

Questions and Answers


Shoppers

Vendors
Q: How do I purchase products that I see at Farmer's Market Online?
    Farmer's Market Online is different from other online marketplaces in that sales and product information are direct transactions between shoppers and the producers.

    Feel free to contact any of the vendors in the market directly with your questions. Email address and phone numbers are included in each Booth. Most vendors ship throughout North America and many will ship overseas as well. 

Q: Won't shipping costs discourage shoppers from making a purchase?
Shipping is certainly expensive, but many shoppers are willing to pay those costs in order to get the products they want delivered to their door. Many of these folks live in urban areas where the expenditure of time, fuel, and effort needed to seek out and purchase a product in person far exceeds the cost of having it delivered.

Mail-order sales to individuals are not the only benefit of having a Booth at Farmer's Market Online. Your Booth may also attract local customers, institutional purchasers, wholesalers or other sales opportunities.

Q: How long will it take before I receive my orders? 
    Almost all the goods on Farmer's Market Online are sold direct from the producer, so delivery times and procedures may vary. Generally,  you'll receive your order in 2-3 days if you choose an expedited delivery method. Otherwise, it could take anywhere from 4 days to 3 weeks. 

    When you find a product you want, send an email to the producer's email address in the Booth and they'll give you a better idea of delivery time. 

Q: How do I join or how do I pay for my orders? 
    You don't have to join. You can pay by credit card with most vendors; most will also accept checks or money orders. 
       
Q: How do I make changes to a Listing?

Once installed, Listings can't be changed until they expire. Which is why we ask you to confirm or correct the information before we complete the Listing.

You can add additional Listings at any time, and you can close a Listing early, but its remaining time cannot be rolled over into another Listing.

Each Listing costs just $25 for a full year.

Change requests are accepted on Booths at any time during their lease, but the lease fees are much higher: $150 for 5 months or $250 for a year.
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Q: Isn't it best to buy locally from local producers?
    Yes, buying from local sources is usually best, both for you and the producer. You can use our directory of farmers' markets to find one nearby, or try our Buy Direct Directory to locate producers selling their products direct in your area.

    Unfortunately, a lot of folks don't have local access to producers selling direct... and many producers need more customers than their local area can provide. That's one of the reasons why Farmer's Market Online was created. See our statement on Buying Online.

Q: Why should I buy a product direct from the producer when I can get a similar item for less money at a discount store or supermarket?
    When you buy from a retailer, less than 40 percent of the purchase price goes to the producer (usually much less). The rest of the cost pays for overhead, marketing, corporate investments and profits.

    Shipping and handling charges on propducts purchased direct may seem high, especially when buying a single item, but they are comparable to the real costs of driving to a store and paying through a clerk. Consider the value of your time ($5, $10, $20 per hour), the cost of operating a vehicle (40 cents per mile), the aggravation of traffic and parking and waiting in line, and the social and environmental cost of 100 people driving to make purchases that one delivery truck could bring to their homes.

    Calculate the real costs of a trip to the store and home delivery of direct purchases is often more economical.

Q: Is there a place on your website that I can combine my orders with several vendors and have them shipped together? 
    We've puzzled over how to develop a shopping cart program like what you describe. All the options we've come up with would require some sort of drop-shipping or third-party involvement in sales, which we've tried to avoid. The primary purpose of Farmer's Market Online is to allow shoppers to interact with and  Buy Directly from the vendor with no intermediaries.

    Some of our vendors have more than one Booth or offer more than one product. We've placed links between them to make it easier to combine orders for their products.

    To offset the added shipping cost involved in making purchases from several different vendors, we recommend buying in bulk, either for yourself or jointly with friends and family. Buying 10 of an item instead of 1 certainly lowers the per item shipping cost.


Q: How do vendors receive payment? 
    Shoppers at Farmer's Market Online buy direct from the vendors. No middleman. Some accept credit cards; other don't. Credit cards allow for swifter transactions, but shoppers who want your product are usually willing to pay by check.

    If you have your own website, you can include a link to it from your Booth. If you don't have a website, your Booth can substitute as a web location in your promotions, i.e., www.FarmersMarketOnline.com/yourname.htm  

Q: How many hits are you getting? 
    Farmer's Market Online curently receives an average of more than 4,000 unique visitors per day, each visiting an average of 10 pages per visit.

    We post regular updates on market traffic in our Open Market blog.

    While we work hard to attract visitors to the market, large numbers of "hits" are not our goal. We would rather attract 10 shoppers seriously interested in buying quality goods direct from the producer than 10,000 shoppers looking for cheap goods at the lowest possible price. 


Q: How long has Farmer's Market Online been online?

Farmer's Market Online started as an email newsletter in 1994 and expanded to a website in 1995. We've been online continuously since then and most of our shopper traffic is the result of the hundreds of links and referrals established over those years. 


Q: How do you market  Farmer's Market Online?

We market the website through press releases, search engine registrations and links to our consumer content, but the most effective marketing is still "word of mouth" and our positive reputation.
 


Q: What's the difference between a Booth and a listing in the Buy Direct Directory?

The Buy Direct Directory lists products available direct from the producer. Its primary purpose is to help shoppers who want to buy direct find the products they are seeking.  Each listing links to the producer's email, website or Booth. 

Listings include the name of the product, producer, location and months of availability. Unlike a Booth, a listing offers no photos, descriptions or separate web page location. 

Vendors who have Booths on Farmer's Market Online are automatically listed in the Buy Direct Directory for the products they offer in their Booths.

Producers who want a Buy Direct Directory listing rather than a Booth can register products for $25 for a full year.


Q: I have a number of different products. Can I put them all in my Booth? 

    Each Booth space is leased in a particular section of the market (Produce, Crafts, Specialty Foods, Meat, etc.) and each Booth is designed to feature one generic product and varieties thereof. This restriction is meant to make it easier for shoppers to go directly to the products they are looking for, and to keep each Booth from becoming a mini marketplace of its own.

    If you lease a Booth in the Produce section, for instance, you can display one produce item that you are selling direct. If you have more than one type of produce to offer, you can either rotate your products in the same Booth to feature different items as they are in season or you can lease separate Booths for each product

    Leasing separate Booths will provide more exposure for your products, as shoppers and search engines begin to associate your Booth location with a particular product, but the expense is certainly greater as well.

    If you have a number of different products that fit several different categories, you could...  

Q: At a regular farmers market, you rent a space, not a category. You put whatever you want on the table... canned goods, corn, tomatoes, honey, melons, fruit, strawberries or whatever. If you run out of one thing you bring in something else for as long as you rent the space. Why can't I do the same here?.
    The only difference with Farmer's Market Online is that the space you rent is situated within a specified section of the market (i.e., Meats, Specialty Foods, Handmade Crafts, etc.). You can change the products you offer in your Booth, so long as they belong in that section.

    There are two reasons for this requirement. The first is to make it easy for shoppers to find what they're looking for; the second is to avoid having dozens of little "mini-markets" within the market.

    Each Booth features one product at a time. The Booth is linked by this product name to our market entrance pages and the Buy Direct Directory. If you offer corn, tomatoes, melons and strawberries, only one of these can be featured in a single Booth at a time. Shoppers looking for melons, either on our  website or through search engines, are more likely to find your Booth if "melons" are the featured product.  

Q: Why are some products linked to Amazon.com?

We are associates of Amazon.com and feature links to selected products on their site, particularly if they are sold and shipped by the producer. These links are not reciprocal and are not related to Farmer’s Market Online Booths or Listings. Many are featured on product pages in lieu of an active Booth vendor. As soon as we have a vendor offering the product in a Booth the Amazon.com product links will be removed and the Booth(s) will be featured.

Q: If I lease a Booth, can I change the featured item?

Yes, as long as the product is appropriate to the category in which the Booth is leased (i.e, Meats, Specialty Foods, Handmade Crafts, etc.).

Booths are leased in sections of the market like Specialty Foods, Meats, Handmade Crafts, etc. They are linked and promoted within those categories, both on our site and with the search engines. If you lease a Booth is Specialty Foods, visitors will come to your Booth expecting to find a Specialty Food item and not Farm Supplies.

If you lease a Booth in 
Specialty Foods, for example, you are welcome to change to another Specialty Foods product that you produce at any time during the term of your lease. And you can change as often as you like, so long as the product is one you produce and sell direct.

You may also lease more than one Booth. 


Q: Do you have any sort of policy on vendors offering the same product?
    No. We do not limit vendors from offering the same product as another vendor. From our experience, the greater the variety of products -- and sources of products -- that a market offers, the more attractive it is to shoppers.
Q: Why do I have to list prices?
    Pricing is an important part of the shopping experience. We ask for pricing out of concern for our shoppers. When they enter a Booth, they expect to find the product they're looking for, a description and a price. Some will want to make a purchase right away, others will want to get more information via email or your own website; but we don't want to frustrate their shopping experience by making them jump to another site or wait for an email response just for a price. Products without prices frustrate the shopper and don't get looked at as closely.
Q: Why do you ask for postpaid prices?
    We strongly encourage you to list a postpaid price for products featured in your Booth. A postpaid price increases customer responses, we have found, because they don't have to inquire about shipping charges and wait for a response. Shipping charges are variable, certainly. Our strategy has been to identify the charges to ship to the farthest accepted destination and use those to come up with a postpaid price; some shipments will obviously be less costly, and more profitable, than others. You'll have to figure out a cost that will guarantee you a return without scaring away buyers.
     
Q: How are your vendors recruited?
    Vendors are recruited online, and mostly by word of mouth (or monitor). 

    Details on leasing Booth are available here. If you produce a product for sale direct to the consumer, we'd welcome you as a vendor. 

Q: I have an online store. Can I promote products from my store in your Booths?
    Most of our Booths are intended for vendors selling their own product direct to the consumer, and are promoted to our shoppers as such. With a few exceptions, they are not intended for resellers.

    Each Booth is limited to one generic product, such as apples or hats or jams, and varieties of that product. Vendors can lease as many Booths as they wish, but we reserve the right to refuse Booth leases to resellers marketing products made by a second party.

    Reselling is welcome, however, in the following sections of Farmer's Market Online: Farm Supply, Home & Garden Center, Kitchen Supply, Gift Shop, Holiday, Craft Supplies, Pet Supplies, and Farmers Market Supply sections of Farmer's Market Online.

Q: Do you accept article submissions? 
    Yes, we're always interested in sharing news, information and resources pertaining to food, farming, home/garden and direct marketing of products. There's no payment for submissions, but we offer links to websites or the author's email in exchange.
Q: Will I get to view my Booth before it goes online?
    Yes, you'll be asked to approve the Booth before it is linked to the market.
Q:Can I change or add to my Booth after it is constructed? 
    Certainly. We have a general Booth page format that we try to keep to, but changes in graphics or content are possible at any time. You can even change the product featured in your Booth as long as it fits in the same category (Meats, Specialty Foods, Handmade Crafts, etc.). Send Booth change requests to manager@FarmersMarketOnline.com
Q: If I close my Booth before its lease expires, can I get a refund or apply any remaining time on the lease to another Booth lease?

No. Most of our costs associated with Booths occurs at the front end of the lease as we construct, link and promote the Booth. Once a Booth is closed, no refunds or change requests are allowed..

Instead of closing the Booth, consider changing the product featured in your Booth to one that fits the category (Meats, Specialty Foods, Handmade Crafts, etc.) in which the Booth was leased.

Q: At the end of the lease, if I want to renew will I need to go through the whole registration process again? 
    Renewal requires no additional setup, unless you choose to make changes to your Booth, which you can do at any time.
Q: As a vendor, how can I attract more shoppers?
    Several things will help generate more traffic and responses:

    1. Photos of your product. We can use these in your Booth, as well as on linking pages to bring customers to your Booth.

    2. Linking content. Recipes, tips, resources, how-to information. We can include these in the content areas of the market with links to your Booth.

    3. Patience. It takes time for the search engines to find your Booth. The longer it is in place, the more traffic you'll see from customer's searching for your product.

    4. Referrals. Include your Booth address in email correspondence, business cards, brochures, etc. It's a slow process, but word of mouth -- or email -- works the best.

    5. Consistency. We get 3000-3500 visitors to the market daily, but not all are looking for your product. Those that are may revisit the market, and your Booth, several times before making a purchase. If they know you're here, there's a good chance they'll come looking for you when they need what you've got.

    Our mission has been, and continues to be, one of attracting more vendors and more products so that shoppers can rely on Farmer's Market Online as a source for the products they want to buy direct from the producer. We value your participation and will certainly do what we can to help make your experience profitable as well as enjoyable.

Q: Will search engines be able to find my Booth? 
    After a few weeks the search engine on our website (see links on most of our pages) will include the products in your Booth, as will most of the major search engines (Google, Yahoo!, etc.) Shoppers searching for your specific product will find links directly to your Booth rather than the market entrance. The longer your Booth is in place and active, the more of these links will be established and the more traffic you'll see. 

Q: Is there any way to monitor orders from a Booth?

All sales transactions at Farmer's Market Online are strictly between the vendor and the customer. We do not process or monitor sales activity.

Most Booths offer several avenues for orders:
  • PayPal direct payment links. We set these up for vendors who have PayPal accounts and want shoppers to be able to make purchases direct from the Booth. These transactions go directly to the vendors PayPal account and are not monitored or processed by Farmer's Market Online in any way.
  • Links to another website with an order form.
  • Phone number for telephone orders
  • Fax number for faxed orders
  • Postal address for mail-orders
  • Email address
Orders from any of these avenues could be coming from the Booth at Farmer's Market Online.


Q: Can you provide me with any stats regarding the popularity of your site, or point me to any of your vendors who might be willing to let me contact them via email?
    Farmer's Market Online receives an average of more than 4,000 unique visitors per day, each visiting an average of 10 pages per visit.

    We post regular reports on market traffic in our Open Market blog.

    Email addresses for all of our vendors are listed in their Booths. You are welcome to contact any of them. 

    All sales, inquiries and transactions are made strictly between shoppers and the vendors, so we have no records on the response rates for individual Booths.



Q: Once you receive payment, how long before my Booth is added to your site?
    Usually, we have Booths set up within 48-72 hours. The vendor is asked to review the Booth before it is linked to the rest of the market.
Q: How many sales can I expect to get from my Booth?
    We're currently seeing more than 4,000 unique shoppers in the market daily, each visiting 10 pages or Booths on average. Not every shopper will visit your Booth, certainly, but those that do will likely have a serious interest in your product. Most Booths get 10-20 visitors a day on average. How many of those shoppers actually make a purchase depends on you and the shopper. We do not track purchasing, or make any other record-keeping demands on our vendors. Sales or exchange transactions are entirely between you and the shopper.

    We caution vendors not to expect hundreds of sales from their investment. It's more likely that your Booth will help you find a few good customers with the potential to become repeat buyers for years to come.

    In general, you shouldn't expect -- or worry about -- being deluged with orders or inquiries from your Booth. It will take time for shoppers and Internet search engines to become aware of your Booth and its product, and most shoppers tend to visit a Booth several times before actually placing an order. The longer your Booth is in place, however, the more visitors it will get and the more serious they will be about purchasing. 

Q: What if I don't want to sell online?
Online sales are not a requirement of vendors at Farmer's Market Online. Our mission is to link shoppers who want to buy direct from the producer with producers selling direct, wherever that may be (farmstand, local market, mailorder, etc.). A Booth or a Listing at Farmer's Market Online can be used to alert shoppers to a vendor's presence at a farmers market, or help them place special orders for pickup or delivery. All sales are strictly between the shopper and the vendor, however and wherever they occur.
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Q: Who designs the Booth?
We build the Booth based on the information you provide on the registration form. Once it's ready, we'll ask you to review it and make corrections before it is linked to the market. Further changes and/or corrections can be made at any time, but please allow a couple days for us to get the job done.
Q: Can I register my Booth in more than one section of the market?
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