The University of Vermont Center for Rural Studies and The Women’s Agricultural Network (WAgN) are offering a three-day workshop on the Internet and e-commerce. Participants will learn how e-mail, web sites and selling online can connect farm businesses to their current customers and to new markets. The workshop, "Adding the Internet to Your Business Recipe" will be held from 10 am to 3:30 pm on October 17, October 24 and November 7 at the Vermont Technical Enterprise Center in Randolph, VT (approximately .25 miles from Exit 4 off I-89).
The workshop will cover the basics of maintaining a successful Internet presence and conducting online sales. It will include presentations by small business owners and e-commerce experts, hands-on group activities and concrete steps for getting started or fine-tuning an Internet presence.
A website can offer existing and potential customers more information about products, growing practices and business “personality.” It can be a place to post farm updates, photos or recipes. It can also be a virtual storefront. Selling a product via the Internet – or e-commerce – can support current customer bases and open up businesses to entirely new markets.
There are many levels of e-commerce, from posting an order form that customers print out and mail in, to an e-mail link for people to submit orders, to an interactive online store that consolidates ordering, payment and shipping. Even setting up a simple e-mail listserve may be just what a business needs to help get the word out and keep customers coming back.
Web sites and E-commerce take planning and coordination. They can also be a lot of work and do not necessarily yield an increase in profits. However, an online presence can increase the visibility of a business, allow for more efficient order processing and improve the connection with customers. Shoppers often use the Internet as a starting point and a Web site can be a great way to introduce people to products without a lot of leg work.
The workshop will encourage participants to think critically about the Internet and e-commerce options available before proceeding. It is designed to enforce the fact that having an Internet presence doesn’t mean changing the flavor of a business. Business owners can decide what online ingredients to include in their business recipes.
The workshop is geared toward female farm-based business owners but is open to anyone.
The registration fee is $75 ($60 by Oct. 2) and includes lunch each day. For more information or to obtain registration materials, visit WAgN’s Web site at www.uvm.edu/wagn or contact Will Sawyer, UVM Center for Rural Studies, at (802) 656-0892 or email@example.com or Beth Holtzman, WAgN, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (802) 223-2389, Ext.15.