UBC Social Ecological Economic Development Studies (SEEDS) Student Reports

UBC Farm E-Business Plan: Growing an Online Presence Clarke, Jacqueline 2010

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UBC Farm E-Business Plan Jacqueline Clarke Jordanna Fraser Glen Garrick Miguel Gonzalez Katherine Max Dixie Quintanilla Growing an Online Presence Overview 1. Internal & external analysis z The firm z The industry 2. E-business plan z Benefits z Approach 3. Implementation z Marketing strategy z Resourcing z Challenges and constraints UBC Farm Current Farm Strategy z Not-for-profit – Have goals but no strategy z Focus on ‘products’ – Education – Research – Organic Produce Vision - Farm z Centre of instruction, learning and research z Integrate principles of organic production and sustainability z Add to the quality of life of the local community Current Operations z Organic Farm – Three acres in production with two large green houses – Weekly summer market – Production is only in the summer season no winter vegetables z Education – Educational exchange programs – Summer internships – Grade school tours z Research – Research projects for various faculties at UBC The Industry Product Suppliers Buyers Potential Entrants Willing to pay a premium Intensity of Rivalry – Low Barriers to Entry – High •High initial investment and low yield, certification complicated •Internationally there are other options (Santa Cruz) •Locally this it the only such location •Facilities, educators in low supply – high initial investment Intensity of Rivalry – Low •Very few competitors in North America at present Barriers to Entry – High •Must have available location for research International: many countries are interested in organic farming Schools: Only location in close proximity As organic farming grows in popularity (i.e. market grows) demand for relevant research will increase Substitutes Organic Produce Costs relative to total are low Non-organic foods Education Educators required to run programs in low supply At home or in school programs without a site visit Research Must be students available and interested in completing projects Other institutions’ research UBC Farm – Competitive Advantage z Location – only existing urban organic farm in Vancouver proper – soil type and regional latitude allow for specialized research – proximity to UBC and grade schools – availability of housing for international exchanges z UBC brand name – closely linked with that of the UBC farm z Barriers to Entry – location and UBC brand name z Inimitable competitive advantage E-Business Plan - current Produce Market Garden Dates, times and produce offered Events Research Education Internships, grade-school program, international programs Website “Pulls” user in E-Business Plan – why change? z Raise awareness, generate interest – UBC has a farm? I can go there to purchase locally grown organic food? – Support existing operations with online mechanisms (operational efficiencies) z Educate – What is organic farming and why is it important? z Generate Revenue – Sale of research, market garden, advertising links (2nd stage), new sources of revenue z Increase prestige – Utilize web to highlight UBC’s research excellence z Build a stronger “community” – Web-facilitated information sharing with learning institutions worldwide E-Business Plan – Market Garden Recommendations: z Online ordering / payment processing for Market Garden products z Enable online donations z Post free food recipes and cooking classes – collaborate with existing restaurant customers, explore cross promotion opportunities z Post ‘fresh alerts’ of produce specials for the week z Enhance links on UBC homepage / local businesses’ websites z Change existing website url z Online discussion groups and bulletin boards Rationale / Benefits: Mark ting tool to prom te the farm z Community building z Generate revenue E-Business Plan – Education Recommendations: z Online registration / payment processing – school field trips and summer weeklong workshops z Online volunteer signup z Workshops catering to gardening community z Primary marketing tool to highlight UBC Farm’s international exchange program z Post lectures and videos of annual symposium held at the farm – Partner with websites of other UBC departments, schools and institutions to promotion z Highlight teaching exchange partnerships with other schools z Information on organic farming Rationale / Benefits: z Public and student education z Enhance a project’s profile and students’ participation z Comm nity building z Generate revenue E-Business Plan – Research Recommendations: z Online ordering of research projects performed at UBC Farm z Allow UBC students and faculty to post their own research, including links to ongoing research projects z Encourage UBC faculty and other schools to promote UBC Farm website and increase visibility ati nale / Benefits: z Networking z Ext rnal and Internal Community Building Generate Revenue Implementation – Marketing Strategy Current Situation z Marketing plan does not exist z Email bulletin used to provide updates regarding organic produce z Funds are extremely limited Website can be cost-effective way to achieve Farm objectives Implementation – Marketing Strategy Product Target Market Marketing Program Goal Organic Produce Organic produce consumers, Previous farm visitors, Adjacent communities, UBC residents Flyers handed out at Farmers’ Market, Newsletter, Links to “share this page” Web address on menus Partner with UBC Administration and International Dept for email promotion, Community news Partner with faculty administration for email promotion Build community Raise awareness of organic products Generate revenue Drive visits/repeat visits to farmers’ market Education University associates, Gov’t agriculture officers, interested public Raise awareness Generate revenue Research University associates Business interests Increase hits from search results related to organic farming research Raise profile of university as research centre Implementation - Resources Resource Details People 1. One time cost – Web designer and developer for initial application setup 2. Weekly cost – high season; monthly cost – low season – Marketing coordinator in charge of updating the website – Webmaster in charge of web analytics and proper site work Funding z Keep utilizing UBC Faculty of Land & Food’s servers z Hire Student  - internship opportunity / portfolio building – $17/hr – Thus – 8 to 12 week internship = $4,760 to $7,140 Equipment z Apache/MySQL/PHP Server z Open Source Content Management System Big Picture Challenges & Constraints z Challenges – UBC Farm occupies prime location – Value of land as real estate far outweighs any land yield dollar for dollar z Constraints – Moratorium expires in 2012 – UBC bureaucracy:  Decision making process is slow – Lack of resources – Farm staff has minimal business orientation – Must ensure e-business strategy is aligned with core values of UBC Farm Technical Challenges z Website relies on hosting and server support from other UBC departments z Website maintenance follows oral tradition - very manual z Content Management System (CMS) has high initial learning curve z With increased online capabilities, traffic, links, more maintenance time will be needed Intellectual Property Challenges z Process must be created to systemize the posting of proprietary information and obtain necessary clearances z UBC Farm must assume responsibility for making documents web compatible (design, file conversions, etc.) z Will require additional man hours Organizational Challenges z Limited resources z Highly dependent on support from Department of Land and Food Systems z Highly bureaucratic university system inhibits change z Zero redundancy - continuation of present farm initiatives would suffer if anything happened to current staff Project Evaluation z Difficult to quantify “intangibles” – Goodwill generated through partnerships – Increased prestige of UBC programs and research – Community which values sustainability – Social interactions centered on land and agriculture Project Evaluation - continued z Our definition of success: – Economically self-sustaining – Farm indispensable to local community – Fosters strong values of sustainability – UBC’s academic programs positioned as world- class – UBC leader in agro-ecological research Thank You – Questions? 


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