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Organic Farmer, Content Management System (CMS) and Ecommerce Website

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As an organic farmer, it can be very challenging to keep your organic farm operation going. Nevertheless, as organic farmers continue to market and sell their organic goods, while trying to reach more customers, the realm of the ‘technology and the internet’ will come into play.

Via ‘technology and the internet’, organic farmers can reach thousands (1,000s) if not millions (1,000,000s) of potential customers locally, nationally and internationally.

However, before diving further into the realm of ‘technology and the internet’, sufficient research needs to be done.

During my groundwork, I came upon many terms such as search engine optimization (SEO), meta tags, keywords and content management systems (CMS). Of them all, CMS drew my attention the most. So I explored the term CMS more, and the best definition I came across for CMS was on Wikipedia that explainedit as – “… a computer application that allows publishing, editing and modifying content, organizing, deleting as well as maintenance from a central interface. Such systems of content management provide procedures to manage workflow in a collaborative environment. These procedures can be manual steps or an automated cascade.”

After reading such an explanation, I knew this was what I wanted, and it seemed to be a great way for organic farmers to expand their reach, gain more customers, and at the same time promote organic food.

But this is not all, next, the organic farmer should decide what does he or she need a CMS for. Is it to sell online like ecommerce? Is it for customer relationship management (CRM)?

From experience as an organic farmer, as well as observations and research, ecommerce is the most popular purpose for a CMS website, as it allows organic farm operators to sell more, and reach more organic consumers.

Now the quest for the best CMS provide/application is on!

In order to determine which one was the best for me, and would be best for other organic farmers, I came up with the following criteria as follows, which I reasoned are good measures:

Reputation

The CMS provider must have a good reputation and be reliable. Such an example is Bigcommerce, which has over fifty thousand (50,000) subscribers in over sixty (60) countries, who are making over US$4 billion in sales collectively. Also, the provider should be financially sound, so enabling it to be in existence for a long time. This was demonstrated by Bigcommerce when it raised US$50 million in 2014 for developing its cloud-based platform, expanding into other market environments, and for bolstering sales and marketing activities. Some of the contributors of the capital were repeat investors such as General Catalyst and Revolution Growth. This demonstrated confidence in Bigcommerce, and that this provider was doing well with its customers.

Various sales options

The CMS platform chosen should have various sales avenues integrated into it like ebay, Google Shopping, facebook, and so on. This will certainly help organic farmers to expand and increase customer purchases online, without the difficulty of setting up and managing separate internet sites.

Easy to use and help

The CMS chosen should be clearly designed for individuals with basic online skills – which I was, to individuals with advanced skills – which I am getting to. Such ease of setting up a professional ecommerce website, can surely boost any organic farmer’s confidence and set them on a path of prosperity.

In addition to the design, having a start-up wizard that directs the organic farmer through the set up phase, will greatly reduce the time and complication(s) the organic farm operator may encounter. And even if there may be some difficulties, there should be a 24/7 help line that the organic farmer may contact for assistance and guidance, as well as having commonly asked questions, online support, live chat, etc. such as with Bigcommerce .

Education

The chosen CMS should offer various ways on educating any user, so they can learn more about the system, and how to use it to achieve their goals such as selling more organic products online. Therefore, things like webinars, videos, written information and more should be available to help the organic farmer increase sales, market his or her website, improve the organic farmer’s website search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, and so on. It should also offer a guide as to the various steps that can be taken to increase visitor traffic, among other things.

Product features

The ways in which the items the organic farmer wants to sell should be displayed in an enticing, rich in color, and professional way, so augmenting visibility and ecommerce conversion rate.

Inventory management

The CMS platform that has been decided upon by the organic farmer, should have a feature that can help the organic farm operator manage his or her online inventory of organic goods.As such, the CMS application should have a feature that can automate many of the organic farmer’s inventory management needs, such as updating how much stock is left, and informing the organic farmer when he or she is out of stock, just to highlight a few.

Promotion

If no one knows the organic farmer’s organic ecommerce website exist, then it is almost impossible to have anyone shopping on the organic farm operator’s ecommerce website. Therefore, the ecommerce computer technology chosen, shouldhelp to promote the organic farmer’s website by making various promotional tools applicable such as gift certificates, coupons, search engine optimization (SEO) tools, various ways of pricing the organic farmer’s organic products, having email marketing capabilities, and so on.

Free trial

If an organic farmer is not sure which ecommerce provider to use, or wants to test a particular CMS computer application, then that CMS platform should offer a free trial. After that trial, you may upgrade using your own domain name or purchase one through your ecommerce provider such as Bigcommerce and Shopify.

The ecommerce provider should also ensure the organic farmer can get his or her website going officially, after deciding this is the CMS application he or she wants to use, by simply improving on what the organic farmer has started during the free trial period, such as easily clicking a package, pay for it online, then use the other features that have now become accessible.

Hosting

The ecommerce provider chosen should have its own server, because this would strengthen the organic farmer’s website’s functionality as it is being hosted, so giving the organic farm operator the peace of mind needed to concentrate on his or her website’s content. Thus, the CMS platform should be able to easily facilitate changes to domain names, website design modifications, among other things.

Payments, shipping and taxing

The CMS platform chosen should incorporate into its function various payment methods such as paypal, stripe, bank deposit, eSELECTplus DirectPost, money order, Google Checkout, just to highlight a few. This will relieve the organic farmer from the extra work of searching for payment merchants and assimilating them into his or her website.

Various shipping and tax choices should also be available and easy to configure, which makes it simple for the organic farmer to choose the option(s) that applies to his or her business needs.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

The chosen CMS platform should have default search engine optimization (SEO) applications, in addition to meta tags, keywords, etc. that may enhance the organic farmer’s website’s visibility when someone is trying to find something that is related to what the organic farmer is selling.

Analytics

The CMS application that the organic farmer has chosen, should have built in analytics that will help the organic farm operator track the performance of his organic ecommerce website. The analytical information provided may be how much visitors the website has attracted, what is the websites conversion rate, etc.

Social Media

The CMS platform chosen should offer the organic farmer the ability to integrate social media icons on his or her ecommerce website. This will allow website visitors and customers to easily connect with the organic farmer’s various social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

For example, even though Cariporter Organic Store has not used any icons (http://ts1.mm.bing.net/th?&id=JN.pNpBDFdh6K87DkAXeork4Q&w=300&h=300&c=0&pid=1.9&rs=0&p=0) as yet, it has provided links that can connect its visitors and customers to its Facebook and Twitter social media websites.

Mobile

The chosen CMS platform should be responsive, so the organic farmer’s ecommerce website can be clearly viewed and used by mobile phone users.

Themes and Designs

The chosen CMS provider should make available many (such as over 100) themes and designs for the organic farmer’s ecommerce site, with some being made accessible for free.

These themes and designs are great for organic farmers who want professionally looking and well functioning organic ecommerce websites, even though they may not be have advance skills in using CMS computer applications.

Accounting

Generally, accounting is not the favourite thing for an organic farmer, so anything that makes it easier to do for an organic farm operator is greatly appreciated. Therefore, the chosen CMS application should be able to have the organic farmer integrate the accounting software that he or she is already using into the organic ecommerce website’s operation, so that the organic farmer can receive financial information about its organic products, orders and customers.

Unlimited offers

The more unlimited offers the organic farmer receives for his or her online sales pursuit(s) the better. So it would be great if the CMS platform chosen has unlimited storage space, unlimited bandwidth, and so on.

Apps

Apps can be very beneficial to organic farmers with respect to their ecommerce website. App means application software, and it carries out the function that it was designed for. For example, Bigcommerce has an App Store that organic farmers may use the various apps available. Some of the apps accessible are Kabbage Instant Financing which offers small businesses financing in minutes, and Fan Builder which is basically an application that allows the organic farmer to reward visitors to his or her ecommerce website, while enabling them to follow the organic farm operator’s online store on Facebook, Twitter or email.

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