Local food effort: Co-op updates as WyoFreshWritten by Emilee Gibb
Triple Crown Commodities Co-op is undergoing exciting updates to expand the co-op and increase consumer awareness, according to Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Cooperative Specialist Scott Zimmerman.
“We’re hoping to expand and get better market penetration, especially in Cheyenne and Laramie,” says Zimmerman.
After evaluating their marketing plan and a feasibility study, the co-op determined that changes needed to be made to bring the operation to the next level.
“The first thing we did was determine that one of the hindrances we had was our name was just too unwieldy to work well in e-commerce,” says Zimmerman. “We decided to rename it and stay Triple Crown Commodities, but we’re doing business as WyoFresh.”
He notes that this change was primarily to make the website name easy to remember for prospective members. With the name change, a complete makeover of the website was done, with a new software program and platform.
“It was much more of a technical website before, where this is much more consumer friendly,” claims Zimmerman.
Being a member of the WyoFresh Co-op has many benefits for producers according to Zimmerman. As a paying member, producers are owners of the co-op.
“Members have a voice in the direction of the operation, as well as an equity stake in the business,” emphasizes Zimmerman.
While consumers may choose to not invest in a membership, producers are required to become a member at one of three different membership levels.
“We have a special deal for new producers coming on, and that’s a five dollar membership until their sales have reached a cumulative of $100 worth of sales through the site,” says Zimmerman.
He notes that once a producer reaches the cumulative $100 mark, producers are automatically upgraded to one of the higher levels of membership.
Holding membership with WyoFresh also aids producers in expanding their local markets without extra travel.
“An advantage for a producer participating in WyoFresh is it gives them the opportunity to market their product in currently Laramie, Platte, Goshen and Albany counties, and basically they only have to take the product to one location,” comments Zimmerman. “We handle the distribution and filling of the orders as part of the service of Triple Crown WyoFresh.”
“Producer’s inventory is managed, and they basically have a page on our website that they list their products, any special marketing or growing practices they have or unique opportunities that they want the consumer to be aware of in the sale of their product,” begins Zimmerman. “Producers can write that all up themselves, post pictures of their products on each individual offering and then price their products.”
Producers have the freedom to decide what to price their products at, and then the price the consumer sees includes the 12 percent handling and distribution fee for WyoFresh services.
Producers also have the option of using the online inventory feature to keep track of what items they have in stock and notify them every time a purchase is made.
“For instance, if a producer is selling eggs and they’ve got 12 dozen eggs out there, the website handles the numbers and lets the producer know when they’re out of stock. Every time somebody orders the product, the producer gets an email back from our server letting them know they’ve got an order out there that needs to be fulfilled in the next delivery cycle,” explains Zimmerman.
The initial goal of the new WyoFresh campaign is to increase consumer interest and interaction in the Cheyenne and Laramie areas.
“Those are two fairly large market sources that we’re not getting the participation from the consumers that we would like to see,” comments Zimmerman.
While WyoFresh is expecting this process to take between six months and one year, their goals for expansion don’t stop there.
“Down the road, we would like to see the WyoFresh website become the go-to platform for direct producer to consumer interaction and hopefully wholesale schools, cafeterias and other types of opportunities throughout the state,” exclaims Zimmerman.
He concludes, “We would like to hopefully replicate the territory we’ve got in southeast Wyoming in other areas of the state down the road.”