Jeff Barry started Boston Organics nine years ago because he wanted to provide locally grown, organic food to the people of Boston. Little did he know, technological advancements and digital media would eventually transform the way he did business. The Charlestown-based delivery service provides fresh organic produce to customers each week with the hopes of saving time in the grocery store and improving the local food system.
“A big part of our mission is to support local businesses and to support sustainable agricultural practices,” said Barry.
When Barry first started the business, he created a website and went to various farmers markets to speak with growers since many resources like social media weren’t yet available. He asked if he could start selling their produce for wholesale, but they wanted to sell directly to customers. He was able to find several farms and suppliers that worked in the wholesale industry.
Customers can sign up and receive a delivery every week or every other week from Boston Organics. They have about 19 different mystery boxes that a customer can purchase and deliveries come in sturdy reusable plastic bins. They can decide whether they want all fruits, all vegetables or several different combinations.
“The way they learn about the service and sign up for it is through the website. You go on and a customer will sign up,” Barry said. ” It takes about maybe five minutes maximum to sign up. They just go through some self guided enrollment pages where they can specify which kinds of boxes they want and how often they want it.”
Customers can also customize their “no-list,” which are the items they never want to receive.
“When a customer does sign up, they can tell us what they never want to get so then we can substitute something out,” Barry said.
A food enthusiast and Boston Organics customer, Tamika LeRay really enjoys the flexibility and effortless characteristics of the website.
“We love being able to order our produce, and add specialty items to the box each week. We’ve had to change our weekly order a few times (i.e., add items to our “no-list”), and that has been so easy,” LeRay said.
When asked if he could attribute his company’s success to the website, Barry was very enthusiastic.
“I think the website is everything and we are definitely working to improve it,” Barry said. “I think the website, the Internet, with emails have really enabled this company to exist and to grow.”
More specifically, all business transactions and orders are processed on the website, which makes it such a valuable resource.
“Most of the communication is done over the Internet through our website, and I imagine we would have to hire a lot more people to process the change orders and for people to update their orders on their account online during business hours,” Barry said. “I think we are really leveraging the technology, but there’s a lot more that we can be doing that we are working on. “
Customer service employee Amy Moses believes that technology has transformed the company, and she thinks that the Internet is vital for their success.
“We’re always looking to streamline things, make it as easy as possible for the customers but also simpler for us to get everyone what they’re looking for,” she said.
The Boston Organics blog contains a weekly newsletter with special tips and recipes for customers. They’re in the process of making the newsletters and other information more easily accessible for customers.
“There are a few entries in there that are a little more deep thought focused that the blog is a great place for me to write it once and put in there,” Barry said, “and then occasionally we can point people to it, because a lot of the same questions will come up.”
Barry believes his business model can really benefit from other online resources such as social media. He explained that he’s been very strategic with using websites such as Facebook, but he is still exploring its capabilities.
“I’m trying to get connected with where my food is coming from and I want to connect our customers with it,” Barry said. “There’s a certain sense of community within the service, but the reality is we don’t see our customers. Social media like Facebook is providing a great venue for us to help bridge that gap.”
LeRay also enjoys participating in the online community on Facebook. She is satisfied with the content that is provided and gets excited when new recipes are posted.
“I really like the recipes and product highlights posted by the Boston Organics Facebook page,” she said. “Boston Organics has brought our family closer together. We love receiving the produce each week and then creating healthy meals together.”