- When 60 businesses lost their online trading platform because of a move, UK-based BigBarn absorbed them into its own system.
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After 4 years working in the UK, French technology company, The Food Assembly, announced it would be leaving the country. As a result, more than 60 local food and drinks hubs were left without an online platform to trade on. Food hubs operate like virtual farmers markets, with consumers selecting goods online and picking them up from a specific location (or organising a delivery). These businesses would have struggled without a trading platform. Enter BigBarn, a UK food and drink website. BigBarn was already host to 7,000 producers, some of which had been going through or managing these abandoned hub and asked BigBarn to take them on. BigBarn obliged.
All around, it is a win-win situation, with consumers having increased access to local products, producers granted a certainty of online presence, and hubs with easier access to new farmers and producers. According to Anthony Davison, the founder of BigBarn, food hubs portend massive potential. “Theoretically,” Davison says, “they can be one-click away from being an online supermarket. If you’ve got enough producers locally, they can all put their products online and you can get a complete shopping basket of goods all in one shop. Because its local, it can potentially be cheaper and fresher and [consumers] can be putting [their] money back into the local economy, building [their] local food system.” BigBarn hopes that this change can bring about increased support for more hubs to be set up around the country, which Davison says could be important with Brexit on the horizon. “We could see food prices rise quite quickly but if we’ve got lots of farmers growing produce for local people then theoretically it could all be a lot better.”
BigBarn has revealed they intend to build upon the French company’s existing platform, updating it to best suit the businesses that use it. When asked what kinds of changes BigBarn intends to make, Davison responded: “the existing platform allowed producers to add their products and the organiser had to then make sure all the products are there and organise the consumers and sign them all up. Within our system we’ve got 7000 producers already on our map. [we want] producers who can quickly add their products, with all the organiser has to do is link to them and do a bit of promotion to local consumers.”
One of the ways BigBarn is making sure the platform evolves in the correct direction is by “talking to all of the hubs and developing the technology for them.” Davison emphasises the importance of lending these hubs a voice in the development process: “it’s all about communication and improving the service… we’ve already developed a certain amount of the technology and we want to make sure the stakeholders benefit from it.”
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