Last spring, Katherine and Jason Lesh’s Farm Cart Organics was enjoying steady, manageable growth delivering boxes of fresh produce across Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties in southern California. But within a week of a Covid-related lockdown, the unimaginable happened: Demand rose from 700 weekly deliveries to 2,500, overloading the family-owned business and sending the Leshes scrambling for solutions.
Fast forward to September, when Farm Cart hired GetSwift Ltd. (Australian Securities Exchange: GSW), which offers a SaaS-based logistics platform to handle inventory, delivery management, and routing. GetSwift, which is in the process of moving its share listing to Canada, has helped Farm Cart manage the high delivery volume much more efficiently and allowed its drivers to cover their routes in half the time it took before.
“I wish we had GetSwift sooner,” Katherine Lesh said in an interview. “We can grow now.”
Farm Cart expanded in multiple ways to meet customer demand. The company, founded eight years ago as part of a community-sourced agriculture system, previously offered fresh produce and bread but now offers a range of pantry items such as pasta, grains, tortillas, and much more.
To manage the extra volume, Farm Cart needed to add staff quickly. Employee headcount surged to 40 from five in a very short period of time as customers continued to make both weekly subscription orders and ad hoc purchases for delivery – the only way many people were comfortable shopping.
“I don’t know how we got through it,” Lesh said. “But we were determined to do it. People were all stuck in their houses and it was a good feeling to help.”
But even with all the additional staff, there were serious logistical challenges. For one, the old software platform didn’t distinguish location before allowing customers to place orders. That meant people who live hours away from Farm Cart were able to pay for food that wasn’t practical to deliver to them.
What’s more, the routing was completely inefficient. In some cases, the old system would have two different drivers going to the same neighbourhood – wasting the company’s time and money.
GetSwift addressed both of those problems. The company’s website now only accepts orders from people in certain zip codes and optimises routing across all orders and all drivers.
Lesh said she looks forward to exploring other features in coming weeks. Among those is a text-notification system that lets customers know about deliveries being completed.
She’s also considering a wider range of foods such as those requiring refrigeration. It’s a significant undertaking to offer items like meat and milk because they would require either refrigerated trucks or insulated coolers.
Looking even further ahead, Farm Cart may expand into urban areas with the help of GetSwift. “It would be great to go to L.A.,” Lesh concluded. “It’s a huge market.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019