Market Mobile – Customer outreach and stock usage efficiency

The MarketMobile is a not-for-profit mobile grocery store which operates out of a retro-fit trailer and truck.  Since 2014, the MarketMobile has brought fresh, affordable, and culturally-appropriate vegetables and fruit to Ottawa neighbourhoods that have limited access to healthy food.

The MarketMobile initiative has three main obstacles to overcome to in order to make our social enterprise sustainable. The MarketMobile would benefit from expertize to help us develop tools for reaching new and existing customers, managing inventory and optimizing our sales capacity.

The MarketMobile has a limited operating budget and consequently has restricted time and resources for marketing, promotion, expanding our customer base, improving operational efficiencies and optimizing sales. MarketMobile needs to further expand its customer base and develop new technologies to advertise and attract new consumers. MarketMobile has a broad marketing strategy and could benefit from more targeted promotion and marketing tools.

A large amount of staff time is spent reviewing price lists, ordering, pricing produce and reconciling end-of-day sales. The MarketMobile team would benefit from an automated system that would systematise purchasing, track inventory and sales. New efficiencies would enable the MarketMobile to free up staff time and resources to further develop and expand our social mandate. Furthermore, the MarketMobile only accepts cash which limits customers’ ability to purchase larger qualities of produce and may drive customers to purchase food where debit and credit are accepted.

Additional challenges for the MarketMobile include left over produce and spoilage. When market sales are low and there are limited avenues to sell remaining produce, the MarketMobile operates at a loss which puts the long term sustainability of the project in jeopardy. Further, the MarketMobile not able to stock adequate quantities of more perishable items and therefore often sell out of these items before all customers are able to purchase them.