TEAMecommi spoke to Alan Alder of Flavour 105 radio about the online service that lets you order from Cambridge Market stall traders. Read here or listen to the full interview (26’:07”).
A marvellous new-ish service has begun in Cambridge, run by market lovers Shachar Hatan and Alannah Wood - it goes shopping for you. Here is Alannah, followed by Shachar to explain.
Alannah: we've partnered with Zedify which is an eco-friendly delivery company in Cambridge. They use their eco-friendly human-powered trikes. We essentially send them as a Mecommi shopper down to the market and they collect your order for you. Whether it's from G&M's Fruit and Veg, Roberto's Deli, they’d go to Bagel Box for bagels, pop to the fishmonger for smoked salmon fillets, and bring that order together. They take that order on their trike and bring it to your door.
We love shopping locally in the market. It's so great for the community, the market traders, getting money to local businesses, and it's also so much better for the environment.
Buying from the market is both more seasonally and more locally produced. It's a shorter journey from farm to table. Another great advantage of the market is less plastic packaging. You get everything loose and fresh and we're really trying to enhance this in our deliveries.
Alannah: one thing that we find really frustrating is the plastic-wrapped broccoli - it just doesn't need it. That's what the supermarkets are doing because it's convenient for them, but it doesn't put the environment first.
One of our main motivations behind Mecommi is being able to create a solution that's as convenient as your local supermarket, but doesn't compromise the environment, and actually supports the local community around it. We're really excited to be able to bring that to Cambridge.
How do people order then?
Shachar: we're basically trying to recreate the experience you’d get at the market on our website. Obviously, you can never get that far, but there are market days and then you have different traders that trade on that specific day, and you make up a shopping cart with different products from different traders and get it all delivered in one delivery, in one order.
And what's the traders' response been? Have they been pretty pleased that you're doing this?
Shachar: the way we started was back in the first lockdown last summer. We went down to the market, spoke to the traders and told them about the idea. The engagement we got from them was amazing, because they were looking for some sort of solution that would help them extend their reach. We're still growing, and it's really a learning process. We get more and more orders as we grow and they've been really patient with us. You know, we told them ‘don't expect hundreds of orders a day with us, yet’. They're happy, they like the interaction with the couriers, and they see returning customers with the same orders every week. It’s really nice.
You don't charge the traders, do you? So how are you paid?
Alannah: we really started Mecommi as a passion project, and saw the huge impact of COVID on the market. We decided to make Mecommi free for the traders for the entirety of the lockdown. We're really just happy to be part of the community at this point. We were able to partner with Cambridge Council in order to do that. When the market was closed back in December-January, we were delighted that we were able to keep the market traders trading whilst that they didn't actually have a physical place to go. So it's run with love at the minute.
Some of the market traders have a huge amount of different produce, don't they. You mentioned G&M's and all their fruit and vegetables, Roberto’s Deli has an extraordinary number of likes and likes...
Alannah: yes, we've had a really good time going through all of the different products that the Cambridge market offers. It's been really amazing that we were able to create the SUPER market from all of the different components of the market. One of the things that has been really enjoyable for us is looking at recipes and bringing together different products from different traders and sharing those on our social platforms and to our newsletters. It's been like a culinary experience and almost like a challenge to try and incorporate as many of the different market stalls into the recipes that we were creating.
So how do people make contact with you, put orders in, look at recipes and things like that?
Shachar: we have our social media page where we share our content, and we try to make it really rich in terms of content and bring different stories from different traders, different recipes, and bring everyone together. The way our customers shop is they go online, they buy stuff, and actually, they communicate with us on emails as well. We get great feedback from them, some of our returning customers just say ‘we love your service, keep on going’ and it's really what keeps us going.
Alannah: we're on Facebook, Instagram, and if you're on our website, you can sign up to our newsletter, where you'll hear from us once a month with our favourite things that we're currently eating, essentially. It's sort of the best job in the world.
You put a leaflet through my door!
Did we? That was actually us! We wondered how we could get into people's kitchens so we thought we’d write a letter to the community. We walked around, house by house, and we delivered them. It was really nice actually to meet people as part of the community. We chatted with loads of people about the idea. It’s amazing because of the lockdown how many people were in!