Hi all, over the coming weeks we'll use this page to update you regarding the impact Covid-19 is having on the business and the measures we are taking to manage effectively.
Our website will remain closed to the usual shopping process until further notice. We are unable to fulfil any new customer orders at this time.
Friday 27th March - 12:30:
We have just sent out the following newsletter than brings you up to speed with our current position, key points addressed are for regular customers, and confirming that the website will remain closed to 'normal' shopping, please follow this link to read it.
Friday 27th March - 8am:
It is now clear that after we have included customers identified in priority groups (that includes existing/regular customers), we will be close to an increased capacity for deliveries on April 2nd & 3rd. Therefore we will not be able to open the website for 'regular shopping' today, as we had outlined as an option earlier in the week. We are still working to add the final group of priority customers to shop for next week and will send out a more detailed email when we are done. If you are an existing customer and have questions or concerns about next week, please email me via email@example.com.
Thursday 26th March - 9am:
Thank you for your continued patience. Please do not try to shop the website at all for the time being, we are now in the process of allocating boxes to priority customers and balancing fortnightly demand. We will notify you if the site is to be opened for general shopping.
Tuesday 24th March - 2pm:
We have just implemented a new ordering system for next week to enable us to prioritise certain categories of customer. Please follow this link to read it about it.
Tuesday 24th March - 9am:
Since we closed the site to new orders on Friday afternoon, (so already at capacity for this week), we have had over 400 customers set up new accounts and payment mandates with us. 160 of those have been in the last 24hrs and the rate of new customer requests continues to increase. For a relatively small, lean and local operation, this is completely unprecedented.
Therefore, it has become clear over the last 24hrs that we will not be able to open the website on Wednesday (tomorrow) as planned, although we have secured more veg, the waiting demand for boxes/deliveries will far outstrip the produce available to us. We are working on a way to identify those in most need and prioritise shopping accordingly, before opening to the general demand.
If you have a regular shop set up and can manage with a fortnightly, rather than weekly delivery, we'd really appreciate you letting us know, or changing the order frequency via your basket page. This will help us significantly spread demand and reach more customers.
Sunday 22nd March:
the site is closed to new orders and will open again on Wednesday lunchtime to place orders for delivery on April 2nd & 3rd. We can only accept orders that include a veg box.
Demand for home delivery of veg boxes has increased beyond anything that we have seen before, in the 36hrs since effectively closing the website to new orders on Friday evening, we have had around 200 customers create accounts and effectively join a virtual queue for box delivery. In 'normal' times we typically see 2 customers a day sign-up and shop.
The key challenge we face is the amount of organic veg available to us, this is shared by all other box schemes that we are aware of. We're now in Spring which unfortunately is the time of year when veg on the farm (and in the UK) is at its leanest. We are overly reliant on organic wholesalers to meet the incredible demand we are experiencing - we cannot be certain of either availability or price until what feels like the last minute each week.
Significant changes to the range of boxes, coming into effect deliveries beginning 26th March :
We felt we needed to make some decisions that may not prove popular with everyone, but are ultimately in the interests of all and will enable us to deliver to a greater number of customers on a more regular basis. We fully appreciate that some families will have total justification in ordering certain amounts of veg (large or small) but ask for your understanding with these temporary changes, in 'normal' conditions, we spend lots of time trying to evolve the business to make you happier!
There will only be two sizes of veg box available, 'small' and 'medium'. You do not need to change anything in your basket, we will make the changes centrally.
If you have a basics box or small box in your basket you will receive a small box - this is likely to be priced around £12.50 so will mean the (relatively) small number of customers that usually have a basics box could pay up to £3 more. If you are unhappy about this please do let me know before Tuesday night and we can cancel the order.
If you have a family, gourmet, UK only, juicing or large box in your basket, you will receive a 'medium' box, which will be in line with the current family/gourmet box by volume and will be priced around £17. This will mean customers that currently have a large box delivered will receive a smaller box than wished for.
The box contents list: Our intention is to give you an overall list of the veg that boxes will be packed from, leaving some flexibility for last minute changes after taking delivery from the wholesaler. We will base volumes on the price charged to you, which could vary very slightly based on prices to us - our aim will always be to give as many customers as much veg as possible as regularly as possible. The changes we are making do not impact our margin and will actually mean a lower sales figure and lower average basket spend rate to us, so hopefully you have peace of mind that our decisions are based on maintaining a supply of veg, rather than trying to make a 'quick buck' - having received many requests for support from front-line key workers and self-isolating elderly customers, I can promise you that any type of profiteering couldn't be further from our thoughts.
We may not include the usual paper or postcard contents list with the box and instead give you the confirmed contents online. This will help save significant time on box packing day.
Dislikes: As we did last week, we have temporarily suspended your option to swap out an item of veg - this will save us many hours of work processing orders, packing boxes and delivering them.
Bio-bags: In recent weeks we have used almost zero plastic, however this may need to change on a temporary basis. If you receive leafy veg in a plastic bag please recycle this at home, as part of our bio-health measures, we do not want to have them returned, sorry. I believe you can now use plastic as food caddy liners across almost all council areas in our operating region.
Box returns: This is a crucial point. We need as many boxes as possible to be returned, each box costs us between £1.50 and £2.10, if we do not get an almost 100% return rate it makes our business very difficult to operate, especially at this time in the growing season. Following some research George will be implementing new bio-control measures, while the risk of returned box cross-contamination is low, we will re-purpose a cool room for returned box storage – with a de-humidifier and heater to desiccate any biological life.
Please ensure you leave your box out for collection on your delivery day, if we do not receive enough back next week, then we may need to take some more formal measures to manage the additional cost - we absolutely want to avoid this if possible.
Encouraging you to shop when you need to: We can be reassured that food in the supermarkets and on our virtual shelves will not run out, there is enough food to go around if we are sensible with how much we buy and when. It would help us greatly if customers that are able to manage by shopping fortnightly do so, i.e. we shop when we need to, not just when we can. We will be trying to hold back some veg that stores well (e.g. potatoes) so we can guard against shortfalls in the UK wholesale market. The likely main reason for running short of anything (e.g. UK onions) is the volume that is being purchased this week, rather than there not being 'enough' overall. We are looking into whether we can implement a 'week A/ B' rota, with more leafy greens being delivered on alternate weeks so there is enough to meet as much demand as possible.
A huge thank you again for your understanding at what are extraordinary times, the response that we have had from customers has been amazing to be part of. I am sorry for making such significant changes at such short notice, but George and I feel that making these decisions now will help us maintain your supply of fresh produce as the restrictions placed on regular life continue to impact us over the coming weeks.
P.S. We are doing our best to deliver to all key-workers and customers that are in 'vulnerable' categories - if this is you, please make it clear on your account and we will do our very best to get produce to you ASAP.
Thank you again,
Steve, George and the ten mile family.