We’re all having to adapt very quickly to the global COVID-19 crisis and bakery owners are no exception.
People in self-isolation need to get healthy food while unable to leave home, bakery owners are attempting to minimise proximity with customers and the rest of us are under notice to stay at home. One of the few exceptions are trips to buy food 'which must be as infrequent as possible' during which we should stay at least two metres (about six foot six in old money) away from other people.
In response, many bakeries are setting up online ordering and delivery services.
Let us know: If you run a Real Bread bakery, have set up an online shop and/or started doing deliveries in the past few months and would be happy for us to share your experience here, please drop us a short line (one or two paragraphs max) that we can cut and paste into this feature.
NB This article is work-in-progress. We have crowdsourced information here from Real Bread bakery owners (and others) in our network and we haven't had chance to research their suggestions in depth. Inclusion here doesn’t signify recommendation or endorsement by the Real Bread Campaign/Sustain
- Real Bread Campaign COVID-19 Q&A for bakers
- The Real Bread Map: Login to create or update a listing of where/how people can buy your additive-free loaves
- Knead to Know: The Real Bread Campaign’s microbakery business handbook. The PDF version is free (doughnations to our charity encouraged) to download.
- The Food Coops toolkit: How to set up a local food buying and selling group (including veg box and bag schemes)
- Sustainable Food Cities: Contact your local group to see if they are coordinating anything in your area, or know of others who are
Examples of e-commerce tools/sites being used by bakeries in our network include the following. You might want to contact the bakery owner to find out how they're getting on with the systems they've chosen.
Goodtill / GoodEats
Chalk Hills Bakery set up its online shop using Goodtill, which offers a range of tools for online and point of sale retail for food and drinks businesses. The bakery takes orders by 3.30pm for next day delivery. As well as Real Bread and other baked goods, they sell a range of other goods including eggs, milk, butter, flour, yeast, tea, coffee and beer.
This is basically an orders-only farmers’ / producers’ market. You sign up as a producer for a local market. Shoppers people order online to pick up from the collection point on the set date. Small Food Bakery owner Kimberley Bell told us via Twitter: “We have always used NeighbourFood as a method of retail, and now it’s come into its own. Sales up by 800% on this platform, it’s perfect for complying with best practise.”
Open Food Network
OFN allows businesses to take online orders and arrange home deliveries. Some bakeries are setting up their own online shopfront, others are working with other local producers to set up food hubs and/or sell through the national network of shopfronts already trading on OFN. Users include Wild Bread in Kent.
OFN offers a regular, free, open-to-all webinar for all food enterprises doing home delivery or running pick-up points.
Shopify says it’s ‘The all-in-one commerce platform to start, run, and grow a business.’
Bakeri Baltzersen @BakeriBaltz “We just launched our bakery online last night (great timing 🙄). We’ve used Shopify with a couple of add-on apps. Built it ourselves, although the bones of the site have been around longer for bespoke cake orders previously. Seems to be running fairly smoothly so far.”
David Banes set up the Bean & Grain online shop using shopify in December. He also says that "my ‘other’ life is software and web development and IT security and compliance" and that he'd be happy for Real Bread bakers to contact him for advice on getting online.
Peter Cooks Bread set up a new online shop using Wix. Campaign ambassador Peter told us: “We didn’t have pictures on ours it was just three pages, one for an explanation about our home delivery, one about collection, and both had a button at the bottom which opened the order page. It was just a very simple version. Some countryside addresses can’t be located by Google and therefore had to be taken over the phone. But other than that it worked fairly well I think.”
The site was set up by Pippa Hughes and head baker Shona Kelly. Pippa said: “Bakeries can set up a wix.com account and use a template website from there. It costs £16 per month. The app you need to include is restaurant orders, and you then edit the names of the products to what you offer. Then in the main dashboard menu you edit the payment method and delivery locations. The url can be changed to your, own if you have one, or you can purchase one from wix.com. To make it live you just need to press publish.” She did add, however, “It is fairly long to get it set up, all in all it probably took two of us two days. It’s complicated but certainly not impossible.”
Here are some of the other sites out there that we’ve heard of but haven’t heard back from any bakery that’s using them, and haven’t yet had chance to research. If you use any of them for your bakery, please let us know how you get on.
Love it or hate it, PayPal offers a shopping cart system that can plug straight into most exisitng websites. You need some technical knowledge, but it includes a full payment system, stock control etc.
BakeryApps: Created by Restaurant Engine App Engines (see below) this site helps a bakery to create an online shop app.
Restaurant App Engines “We are happy to provide any bakeries with their own ordering/delivery apps for free for 3 months. Please get in touch if you are interested: firstname.lastname@example.org”
Slerp: ‘is the connector that brings your physical retail locations online with on-demand ordering & delivery.’
StoreKit Takeaway: Set up specifically to help restaurants, takeaways and other hospitality / food delivery services during the current situation.
Real Bread Campaign supporter Paul Dobson is a senior lecturer in digital marketing at Staffordshire Business. He also helps businesses to become successful online.
He told us: "To help sales, artisan bakers need to promote their online shop via social media. We’ve found local Facebook groups to be very effective - almost every town and village has at least one. With Instagram, the posts need to include local town hashtags (eg #Alsager) as a lot of people are searching for details in their local area. They need to keep an eye on IGTV as this is rapidly expanding. This is currently used by the younger generation, however, the age range is expanding."
He went on to say: "Twitter is OK for branding but doesn’t appear to be driving sales."
We'd add that using your local hashtag(s) is important across social media to help your posts be seen by more local people than just those who follow/like your feed.
[Awaiting examples from bakeries that have set up delivery rounds/services]
Delivery round planning
@BeardedMidget suggested RoadWarrior: 'you can put in about 50 stops for free and the if you have more deliveries than that you have to pay for the premium version. It won't help with hard to find addresses though."
@SarahDSYLo suggested Pedal Me
Teamwork and piggybacking
Rather than going it alone, you can investigate partner up with a food (or other) company or organisation in your area that has an established online shop and/or local delivery round. Examples include:
Kupros Dairy has added Holtwhites Bakery’s Real Bread to its shop
Have you tried asking local runners / joggers about volunteering (or to help deliver Real Bread and other essentials to the doorsteps of key workers, older and other vulnerable and isolated people in your area? Maybe contact the local ParkRun or other running group.
Obviously take precautions before you go sending complete strangers round to elderly or otherwise vulnerable people's (or anyone's, for that matter) homes.
The Real Bread Map: For more than a decade, our map has helped people to find where to buy (in person, online and/or for delivery) place to buy additive-free loaves, plus Real Bread ingredients, equipment and classes.
Baker Direct A new map of bakeries in the UK and Ireland that deliver
Big Barn A CIC that offers a free map listing, with paid-for upgrade options including an online shop.
DeliverAll UK businesses offering home delivery of all sorts during the COVID-19 situation
- Dairies with milk rounds
- Veg box/bag schemes
- Food co-operatives
- COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK (volunteers supporting local community groups organising mutual aid)
Published 30 Mar 2020
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