Organic box delivery services have become very popular in urban locations and college towns, particularly throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. They offer consistent access to fresh organic produce, plus the convenience of online ordering and home delivery.
Organic boxes differ from a CSA (community-supported agriculture) share, where customers buy a portion of the crops from one local farm or a collective of small farms. Organic box companies don’t grow veggies and fruits; they purchase organic items wholesale from produce suppliers and farmers, then resell them to consumers.
With a young child at home and a disability that makes it difficult for me to carry heavy grocery bags, I am the target customer for organic delivery services. I think they offer a good option for people who eat a lot of vegetables but do not have access to a store that sells organic produce. They are not a perfect option, however, and I found that out when I worked as the marketing manager for an organic box service that delivers to homes around Seattle and Portland.
One part of my job was to try and reduce the customer “churn rate.” In marketing, the churn rate is the number of subscribers who voluntarily leave during a given time period. A high churn rate is considered a strong indicator of customer dissatisfaction. The churn rate at this company was about 25 percent per month, meaning that 25 percent of our customers decided to take their business elsewhere every month. Since the owner wasn’t receptive to negative feedback from customers (or from the marketing manager, for that matter), the churn rate was difficult to change.
As you might guess, another major component of my job was dreaming up promotions to sign up new customers. I was pretty good at getting customers to sign up for the service. The problem was that once the delivery service started, customers didn’t get what they expected, and so after a few weeks, they would cancel the service. I often wished the company would simply give potential customers the plain facts about what to expect from an organic box delivery subscription. Since they won’t tell you what to expect, I will.
The 10 things your organic delivery company won’t tell you:
Organic box delivery services can be a great convenience as long as you know what to expect and don’t mind the trade-offs. These days, I prefer to buy direct from local sustainable farmers whom I know personally. I like to cook food that’s in season and eat yogurt and other dairy products from humanely raised animals, and since I visit the farms I buy from, I don’t need an organic sticker on my produce — I can look around and see how things are grown.
If buying local is your goal, too, you might be better off subscribing to a CSA and shopping at your local farmers’ markets and food co-ops.
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