The world runs on smartphones and tablet computers. With the swipe of a thumb on a touchscreen, we can order rides, order food deliveries, and book vacation homes and flights.
Four years ago, the launch of the HitchPin app brought this “gig economy” convenience to farmers and ranchers. Simply put, using HitchPin’s free listings, farmers can find personalized service providers to help them through planting and harvesting seasons. Rather than using the classifieds and word of mouth, a service provider — like a bespoke harvester, for example — can list their service, the radius they’re willing to run, their prices, and more. Customers can then hire and pay them through the app’s escrow service, just like you would if you hired an Uber or booked an Air BnB listing.
By farmers, for farmers
Since its debut in 2018, founder Trevor McKeeman says thousands of farmers have built or expanded their farming businesses through Farm Gigs on HitchPin.
McKeeman grew up on a farm near Enterprise, Kansas, and HitchPin was born out of a desire to help farmers like his family and neighbors. On-farm gigs and direct sales are among the most popular ways for farmers to generate cash flow and give them the opportunity to expand their business. He saw the rise of app-based gig services that use excess capacity and understood how these functions could be adapted to a farmer customer base.
Today, HitchPin is headquartered in Manhattan, Kansas to be close to the farmers and ranchers it serves.
The next step for HitchPin was to create Storefronts, a new free tool for HitchPin users.
Farmers have always had side businesses bringing cash to their operations, says McKeeman. Whether direct sales of produce or meat to consumers through farmers markets; or sell seed, hay or other agricultural inputs to other farmers, many farms have multiple businesses.
But farmers rarely have the time or money to build a web page or fully utilize the power of digital communications to expand their customer base. Instead, they use word of mouth or classified ads to make those sales.
Storefronts on HitchPin give users that online URL footprint. It is a website customized to the user’s business, consolidating all their sales listings into one online location to share with potential customers.
Users reserve a custom URL for their online storefront, and setup takes less than five minutes, according to the company.
“We’ve taken advantage of that ability to list any type of product or service, and with Storefronts, we’ve consolidated that into something that now aggregates all of your individual listings,” McKeeman says. “So unlike other marketplaces, where you can have a listing here or there, Storefronts brings it all together and you have your own URL.”
It’s not Craigslist, or Facebook’s marketplace with passive listings, he adds. Storefronts provides the infrastructure for farmers to not only list their products and services on a Facebook page or group, but also on a website that has their custom URL. Storefronts also process online payments securely through HitchPin’s Escrow feature and capitalize on HitchPin’s search engine optimization capabilities to reach more customers.
As McKeeman explains, Storefronts allows farmers to continue farming and gives them their own place on the internet.
Even more exciting is how HitchPin’s showcases allow farmers to provide details and documentation regarding their produce for sale. For example, a company may be looking for cattle that have been age and source verified. Farmer Johnson has listed on the Johnson Farms Showcases page an age-verified and source-verified cattle pen, and provides third-party documentation to support these claims. With just a few clicks, that buyer can now view those cattle and documentation, and buy them.
A more pressing example, says McKeeman, is that farmers facing drought have spent days trying to find fodder for their livestock – but their familiar and nearby sources have run out. By using Storefronts listings, a buyer can expand that circle and connect with a wider base of suppliers than they normally would have had before.
Shoppers can also find storefronts of farms they regularly do business with and follow them on the app as well.
For more information on HitchPin’s new Storefronts capability, visit hitchpin.com.
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