Selling "Extras" to CSA Members

Member Assembler is so much more than just CSA membership sign-up solutions! Another great feature is the Ecommerce shopping cart that is included with your Member Assembler subscription. This feature allows you to sell individual items to your customers online. When paired with Member Assembler, it is a great way to offer 'extra' items to your members throughout the season. Sell those seven extra watermelons you harvested this week or offer specialty items like soap, eggs, and bread every week in your Ecommerce store for members to purchase and pick up with their weekly share. This tool also works great for other types of box customization and buying clubs.

This article covers the following topics:

  Creating a Department & Adding Items
  Member Access & Creating Passwords
  Opening & Closing a Department
  Orders & Reporting

Get Started!

Log in to the Control Panel and navigate to:

   Sell > Manage > Departments

Creating a Department & Adding Items

A Department is a page on your site where you items will be located for sale. Once you are on the "Manage Departments" page, click on the "Click here to create a new department" link located in the yellow box. This will take you to the "Create New Department" page.

   Figure 1. Create New Department Page

Start by giving the Department a name and brief description. Next, choose the location of the Department on your website by selecting which menu it will be listed under in your navigation bar (for Small Farm Central website subscribers). Then choose the display method and checkout options. Next, decide if you want sold out items to be listed as "sold out" or hidden from the customers altogether. The final section determines whether or not "shipping rules" will apply to this department. If you won't be charging any shipping or handling fees for your Ecommerce orders, you can leave this unchecked.

Note: If you get stuck setting up your first department, you can find more in-depth instructions in the Getting Started with Ecommerce section of the Knowledge Base.

You may decide to create one Department to handle all of the sales for your CSA or, depending on your workflow, you may decide to create different departments to handle different ordering windows or pickups. Start with one Department for now. Small Farm Central Support Staff can help you create a more complex set-up in the future.

When you are finished, click the Create Department button at the bottom of the page. This will take you to the "Edit Department" page. Here you will see some of the details of your Department including the title & description that you created previously. There are other things to edit on this page that we will go over later in this article.

Now it's time to add items to your Department. Click on the link entitled "Edit Inventory" at the top of the page. (You can also add items by navigating to: Sell > Manage > Items) Click the "Create New Item" link located in the yellow box.

   Figure 2. Create New Item Page

Choose an item name and write a brief description. If you have a photo of your item already uploaded intoyour Gallery, select it from your photo options. You can also upload a new photo by clicking the "Click here to upload a new image" link. (For more information on uploading photos read the "Uploading Photos & Creating a Gallery" article in the Getting Started with Website Tools section of the Knowledge Base.)

Give other farmers credit if you are offering their products in your Ecommerce store. Choose the Producer of your item by selecting a name from the drop down menu. You can also create new Producers by clicking the "Create More Producers" link.

If you have more than one Department created, you can change the inventory details by clicking the arrow next to each Department that your item will be included in. When you are finished, don't forget to click the Submit button! Repeat these steps until you have added all the items that you would like to offer.

Member Access & Creating Passwords

To make a few more edits to your new Department navigate to:

   Sell > Manage > Departments

Then click the "Edit" link next to the Department you wish to make changes to.

If you want to restrict access to your department to certain groups of people, you can make the department "Private", which means that people will need a username and login to access it. There are two ways that this can be done. You can restrict members by User Group or by Membership Type. The "Private Access" section is where you choose. (For more detailed instructions, read the Private Departments help document)

If you want to restrict access based on User Group type, click the "Show Groups" link and this will show you a list of all of your User Groups. People in your User Groups aren't necessarily members of your CSA program. Check the box next the the User Group(s) containing the Users who will have access to this Department.

If you want to restrict access based on Member Type, click the "Show Types" link and this will give you a list of all of your member types across all of your Member Assembler seasons. Click the box next to the member types that you wish to have access to this department. When restricting access by member type, the system will require not only that the member be assigned to the proper member type to get access, but the member will also have to have their Member Assembler balance paid in full. If you don't want to require this, you'll need to restrict access by user group instead of member type.

This is what a restricted access Department looks like on a Small Farm Central website:

   Figure 3. Department Login Page on a Small Farm Central Website

If you would rather that these ordering pages be public (meaning anyone can order from them) then simply skip the "Private Access" settings.

For restricted access Departments, your members will need a username and password. The username is always their email address, and they may already have a password if they are a member of your CSA. They can also set their password by first signing in with their email address and following the link in the email that they receive in their inbox. However, you can also set passwords for them.

To set passwords, navigate to:

   Administrate > Users > Reset Group Passwords

You will have the option to either choose a single password for all users or have the system randomly generate a password for each user. Then click the group(s) that you have selected to have access to your Department. Customize the email notification to tell people that they now have access to a new private Department in your Ecommerce store.

If a member already has a password, using this tool will change it. However, users can reset their password to anything they want by going to: (Replace "yourfarm" with your Small Farm Central website address.)

The email notification will also include a link to the login page on your website. That address is: (Replace "yourfarm" with your Small Farm Central site address.)
When your members log in they will see a list of all Departments that they have access to, so they can start shopping right away.

Another way is to provide your members with a direct link to the Department page by sending them the page's URL ( Uniform Resource Locator). To find this, navigate to:

   Sell > Manage > Departments

Click on the title of the Department and you will be taken to the login screen for the Department on your website. Copy the URL from the address bar at the top of the page (it will be something like Then, send it to your members.

Remember: If you have a full Small Farm Central website, you will have a navigation menu on your site. The Department link can also be found under the navigation menu that you selected when creating the Department.

Opening & Closing a Department

At this point, the department is enabled and ready. However, you may choose restrict the hours that you have your Department open. For example: a Department that is open for a few days or one that closes the day before pick-up. At the start of the ordering window, you will likely want to send a blast email out to your members with the Mailing List tool to tell your customers that the department is open for business.

To turn off the department when the ordering window is closed, you may go to:

   Sell > Manage > Departments

Click the "Click to Disable" link beside the department or click the "Edit" link to be taken to the "Edit Department" page. In the "Auto-disable Department After Date/Time" section you can set a time when your store will "close" and compose a "Disabled Message" that your members will see to let them know when the store will open again or other important information. Don't forget to click the Save Changes button when you are finished!

Orders & Reporting

Orders will be sent to you via email and a confirmation email will be sent to your customer. You can watch them come in over email and then go to the Control Panel when the ordering window is closed to do reporting.

The Member Assembler reporting tools allow you to create a reports of you order information. You can also export your data to a spreadsheet program to do more processing.

To access the Member Assembler reporting tools navigate to:

   Sell > Orders & Reports

It is possible to integrate your sales into your weekly pickup lists. For more information on how to do that, read the Generating Pickup Lists and Labels article.

Here you can view orders, search payments, even manually add an order yourself. The "Create Report" tool will allow you to develop a report of orders made during a specific ordering window. It will give you an aggregate total of total number of items sold between all orders and individual order information. This report has everything you need to pick and pack your orders. The "Export" tool allows you to export order and user information to a spreadsheet program so that you may do further data work.

Congratulations! You have just set up your first Department and have begun to offer your subscribers a more dynamic membership experience. While it may take some time for you and your members to get a handle on the new tools, there is a lot of time to be saved and sales to be made by using the Ecommerce system.

Remember: If you need extra help setting up a more dynamic Ecommerce store for box customization or a buying club, contact Farmer Support by calling 412-567-3864 or emailing

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