The Florence Road Market in Brighton is run by a small team who are devoted to celebrating the landscape of Sussex’s finest producers in a weekly farmers’ market.
Faced with the challenge of COVID-19, the team decided to shift from the physical market space to a virtual online web-shop and delivery box service. Without this, the independent, artisan producers who previously sold direct to the public at the market, would have lost the crucial business they relied on. Now the team is selling a wide range of goods – everything from artisan cheeses and dairy products to local meat, bread and jam – as add-ons to the core vegetable box offer. This online system keeps the logistics as simple as possible.
There are three planks ensuring the success of the operation. The first is the development of an online trading platform, using the point of sale app Square. This was something that had been adopted for the regular market, to give more people the freedom to pay by card. Square has a free online store, where Florence Road Market has since been trading. For the most part it works well and is user-friendly.
The second plank was organising pick-up and delivery. The team set up a default pick-up option on the website, ready for collection every Saturday morning from the Church building where the market used to take place. For those who are isolating and live within a five-mile radius of the market, there is also the option of a delivery service. The geo-mapping website Doogal makes deliveries more efficient for the volunteers who work with the market.
The third plank is the army of volunteers who support the market. The online operation would not have been possible without them. Each week, a call goes out on the market’s Facebook and Instagram pages, and through a network of churches and the market community more widely. In alignment with the work the Market already does as a charity, helping more families to have access to healthy, fresh food each week, the team have added a pre-order ‘buy one give one’ scheme to the website, providing over 200 families across Brighton with the necessities they need. Now the market reaches three times more households than before, selling to date over 1200 veg boxes, resulting in a 400% uplift.