When Gonzalo Úrculo returned to his abandoned family farm in 2009, he was determined to start his career as a farmer. He saw an opportunity to bring his new business online and partnered with his brother, Gabriel, to start Naranjas del Carmen, an online store for consumers to purchase produce directly from their farm. Soon, other farmers asked for the brothers’ help to digitise their businesses, and ultimately, this digitisation effort grew into CrowdFarming: a farmer-focused answer to supply chain inefficiencies that allows consumers to purchase organic produce (and even adopt trees) directly from growers.
Because traditional food supply chain models involve several intermediaries, such as supermarkets, farmers often have to wait up to 120 days to be paid for their produce. This delay comes after a full year of financing the cultivation and harvesting of their farmland. In the hopes of getting farmers paid faster, CrowdFarming needed a simple way to manage its money.
With its roots firmly planted in Spain, it was also looking for ways to grow more quickly into international markets with new payment options. The Úrculos had first chosen Stripe as the payment platform for Naranjas del Carmen and, seeing the potential for scale, also selected Stripe as the foundation for CrowdFarming’s payments.
Because CrowdFarming was established by farmers with digital technology backgrounds, the company knew there were other areas of its business that could benefit from existing technologies, rather than having to build it all from scratch. “As a digital product company, we know we don’t have to develop everything ourselves,” said Gonzalo Úrculo, CEO and co-founder of CrowdFarming. “We can trust Stripe to manage financial compliance and give our farmers and consumers the tools they need, so we can focus on improving our platform for our customers.”
That technology-centric approach is also the company’s key differentiator from its largest competition in the consumer produce market: traditional grocery stores. “It can be difficult to gain customers when you aren’t a huge corporation, so we wanted to be sure that our website worked better than supermarket sites,” Úrculo said. “Being able to offer more payment options and more currencies with a cleaner UX meant we could attract a wider audience.”
With Stripe Payments, CrowdFarming has easily been able to expand its available currencies and payment methods to include PayPal and SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area), offering consumers more flexibility to pay the way they want and facilitating the company’s reach into new markets.
By combining this expansion with Stripe Connect, CrowdFarming helps farmers accept payments from customers across different countries. Additionally, Stripe Connect Express means that Stripe directly manages payouts to farmers, so CrowdFarming can keep its focus on its own business while Stripe handles payments. “Stripe handles the interchange if a consumer in the UK wants to use pounds to purchase from a Spanish farmer,” Úrculo said. “The payment is changed over to euros immediately, which makes it easy for the farmers. We don’t have to ever touch the farmer’s money, which helps us stay compliant with different financial regulations.”
With the foundation of its revamped payment system in place, the company wanted to continue to offer new sales options for its farmers. CrowdFarming adopted Stripe Billing so that farmers can offer a monthly subscription for consumers interested in regular deliveries. By building additional ways to order produce into the platform, the company is able to provide both farmers and consumers with more options and greater flexibility.
Giving more than 300 farmers access to their money 89% faster
With CrowdFarming, hundreds of farmers can sell directly to consumers and be paid in 14 days – 89% faster than the traditional supply chain payment process. These farmers can use their Stripe Connect accounts to manage payouts, and money is transferred directly to their accounts without having to manage an additional third-party relationship.
Working directly with consumers also kept farmers afloat when a drought in southern Europe reduced some crops by up to 70%. Despite this decline, CrowdFarming has grown by 25% by helping the affected farmers reach consumers and more effectively sell the produce they managed to grow.
Saving an average of 8% on customer acquisition costs with expanded payment options
Since introducing payment methods like PayPal and SEPA to CrowdFarming’s German market, the company has seen an 8% reduction in customer acquisition cost. The company saw a similar 5% reduction in Sweden after introducing Klarna. It coupled these changes with additional customer support from Stripe Payments.
“If a customer puts in the wrong number or an expired card, they receive a message directly from Stripe with exactly what they need to do to fix the issue,” Úrculo said. “That message is automatically translated for our users, and this smooth user journey helps them feel more confident in our website.”
Launching a subscription service in less than three months
With Stripe Billing, CrowdFarming was able to introduce farmers and consumers to its Discovery Fruit Box, a subscription service that allows customers to order monthly boxes of fruit from around Europe. “We had the idea for the Discovery Fruit Box in May, and it was up and running in less than three months,” Úrculo said. “Billing made it possible for us to make it a reality quickly because we could set up recurring payments so easily.”
These repeat orders help farmers more effectively scale their direct-to-consumer sales for organic produce across Europe, and it doesn’t stop there. The company plans to continue its international growth across the continent and into the US to support farmers around the world.
We’ve used Stripe since our gross merchandise value was less than $1 million. Now, it’s more than $50 million, and we’re using the same services. Stripe helps small businesses run on the same systems that big businesses already use, and is helping us grow into the big business we want to become.