Farm-to-door delivery takes business back to the future
THE internet has sped up and depersonalised our shopping experience. Online shopping allows us to have just about anything dropped off at our door, completing a successful transaction without any direct interaction with a single human being.
For everything else, the supermarket giants conveniently fill our trolleys with everything we need.
However, for one Clarence Valley small business the internet has proven a useful tool to combat these modern trends. Tapping into the social conscience of residents, Big River Milk recently ran a successful social media campaign in its bid to go back to the future in offering a farm-to-door home delivery service.
"It has surprised me," Big River Milk director Peter Watt said. "We've been inundated with people, it's very popular.
"We've been trying to increase our market share in Grafton for a long time. We've tried different methods on several occasions, but for some reason in the last three weeks it's just started to happen."
While milk delivery in itself is not a new concept, it is an example of the type of personalised service that has become a rarer commodity in modern society. Mr Watt's latest efforts of reaching out directly to the consumer definitely buck the trend in this age of rising costs.
"There is definitely a movement of people wanting to know where their produce comes from," Mr Watt said. "People are realising if they want to get the freshest and the best they need to get it direct.
"I think people are becoming more aware that if you don't support the local guy then it will be gone, and you'll be leaving it to the multi-nationals and the big guy to supply your milk.
"We're also fans of Norco, but they're a large manufacturer. Whereas with us, what the cow gives to us we give to you - everything except the bulls***."
"We're a stand alone farm. We do everything from the paddock to the door, no third party involved anywhere in the process. It's very rare and we're very proud of our product.
"Internet technology certainly helps us deliver that cost-effectively. If we had to manage the sales process very hands on then it would be very difficult."
While Big River Milk is stocked on the shelves at Coles, it isn't currently stocked at Woolworths and Mr Watt said the delivery service was one way of reaching the "40 to 60 per cent share of the market" who don't shop at Coles.
Tagged onto its wholesale delivery schedule, Big River Milk now has capabilities to deliver to households from Urunga in the south to Ballina in the north. What's more there's no minimum order limit or delivery fee attached to a $3.90 order for 2L bottle of milk.
"We offer two litres of our milk in any variety - full cream, skim or non-homogenised," Mr Watt said. "The customer selects the days they want it delivered and we do what we can or make a recommendation of when we can deliver."
Grafton resident Helen Badger likes to have milk in her tea. She was quick to jump on board and now once a week the milkman delivers two litres straight to her door, highlighting how simple it can be to make wholesome choices to benefit the local producer.
"I think it's a great idea," Mrs Badger said. "It gives the money straight back to the farmers instead of the supermarkets, plus we know how fresh the milk is.
"We've lost all our primary and secondary industry and it's a slippery slope if we lose our dairy industry."
The last dairy farm on the once thriving Lawrence Road, Big River Milk has steadily expanded in the 18 months since Local Farm Fresh bought the business and now employs 12 people.
"We're milking 250 cows and about to expand that by 50 to 100," Mr Watt said. "We're busily cropping and planting our pastures and getting our feed up and getting silage in.
Big River Milk won a gold medal for its homogenised milk at the recent Royal Easter Show and is entered in all the milk categories at Queensland agricultural show the Ekka in August.