How much time do you have to set up an online farm store?

How much time do you have to set up an online store?

It’s never going to be enough.

And it’s probably more than you need.

(And did you notice that I used a picture of Thyme to illustrate time for your online store?)

Mid December 2016

We were getting our online Farm Store ready for January Seed Sales. But there were a couple of lingering bugs in our WordPress-WooCommerce site.

For some reason clients on our English website couldn’t see the same products as clients perusing our French website. And there were some products the site wouldn’t let anyone add to their cart.

This seems like it should be something easy to fix but our web developer had been working on it for a few weeks and hadn’t managed to solve it yet. 

We were getting ready for an intense couple of weeks of upgrading and debugging to crack this nut and make sure all our clients could order all the products we had available.

Our web developer felt pretty confident we’d have it done before our January Seed Sales Season. But I wasn’t sure.

I was worried we’d invest a bunch of weeks over the Christmas holidays and start January with a variation of the same website bugs.

I was starting to feel blue about this whole thing.

To distract myself from this blueness, I went looking at other ecommerce platforms and dreamed many beautiful dreams of what we could have.

And then I made a split decision that if I was going to spend a lot of my holidays working on a website, I should be doing it on a new website that wouldn’t have these chronic problems.

I asked my Tourne-Sol co-farmers if they would support my decision to pivot on a dime and launch a Shopify store. And they agreed.

Over a 16 day period, tucked between family gatherings, cross country skiing, and playing board games (mostly Dominion); I set up a theme, imported 200+ products with variants, figured out how to structure our categories and tags, made sure everything was translated in English and French, and that our order sheets would show product codes in  alphanumeric order.

In early January we launched.

We did have some troubleshooting those first weeks to adjust our workflow to a new platform but otherwise it’s been the smoothest online store experience since.

The moral of the story is not to forswear WordPress for Shopify.

I actually really love how much possibility WordPress offers and I know many farmers and seed companies who use a WordPress site without challenges.

And I love that WordPress is Open Source and that there are minimal costs for the software. (Especially compared to recurring monthly costs that come with Shopify.)

The moral of the store is to recognise that when you’re managing an online store you’re either investing in time to set up a low cost system, or paying for a platform that will save you time.

And time is money. (And for a market gardener, so is thyme – but I digress.)

If you’re new to online farm stores – go for a simple platform.

My next free online workshop is on Thursday January 18 at 2pm

Leave a Reply