Seriously, WTF is Local Line?

Local Line is a modern commerce system for local food economies.

… but really, what does that even mean?


It’s next to impossible to articulate what we do in only a few sentences. The food system has a lot of moving parts, thus any commerce system built for it must adapt to have a wide lens. It’s not that our product — which is software — is remarkably complicated. Its functionalities are really cool and useful. It’s robust, user-friendly and has all the bells & whistles a good technology is supposed to have. The whole system has been designed to be compatible with the current comfort level of small and medium scale farmers, as well as fit into the ridiculously hectic lives of chefs. Our users love it and it’s not hard to understand.

Local Line is built on hundreds of validation conversations with our target market, the combined experience of some of the best chefs in our region, and over a million lines of code written and tested by our development team. We have an e-commerce based marketplace, delivery logistics, invoice creation and payment, customizable profiles with definable roles for multi-user access, success documents, interactive how-to guides, a partridge and a pear tree, as well as some great reports to play with.

But seriously, WTF is Local Line?

Let’s start vague

We’re in the food business. Unfortunately, that is also the source of our problem in explaining what we do in only a couple sentences.

Our modern food system, so dear to all of us as it is, has creaked and rumbled along for about 60 years.

You can hear it, the sound of the modern food system operating around us, everywhere: it’s the creak and rumble of icebox cars on old steam trains rolling from the Salinas Valley to New York City, packed with lettuces, and peaches and melons.

It’s the creak and rumble of ships moving livestock from a country where it is cheap to raise animals, to another country where it is cheaper to slaughter them.

It’s the creak and rumble of transport trucks moving frozen foodstuffs from warehouses to grocery stores, and returning empty along already choked highways.

It is the creak and rumble of a long-outdated system, but a system that also calls itself “modern.”

So when we say we’re the company that built the modern commerce system for local food, people automatically associate us with the creak and rumble they’ve been listening to for the last 60 years.

This association is a problem for us.

For example, we have potential clients, mainly food distributors, that think we’re trying to compete with them for market share. No! No, friends, we are not competing with you. Just because Local Line services the food industry does not mean we are inherently in competition with everyone else who does the same.

In fact, our role is to serve those serving the service industry.

Right… unpack that: Remember the creaky, rumbling “modern” food system? Imagine there was a team of highly skilled wheel-greasers, ship-caulkers, and road-workers whose only job was to get the creak and rumble out of the food system: to expedite every aspect of food ordering, delivery tracking, invoicing, and all those other things I listed at the beginning of this article. That team would be responsible for making sure that every aspect of the “modern” food industry was working in the most efficient manner, regardless of which supplier’s products were on what truck, or who had ordered from which supplier, and what truck gets to make the delivery. That team of highly skilled workers would have to service every actor in the food-supply chain equally and fairly, or risk losing the diversity and depth of clientele such a group of skilled workers would need to keep their jobs.

Of course, such a team of individuals does not exist. It isn’t efficient to try to solve massive, broad-spectrum problems (like waste and inefficiency in food distribution systems) with an entirely human solution. Given that it is impossible for such a force of skilled workers to exist, working in unison to actually ensure an increase in efficiency, the only real solution to streamlining the food industry is software. Software has increased efficiencies for virtually every industry on earth at this point. Local Line can replace that imaginary force of workers with very real, very functional solutions. Rather than outsourcing the aspects of your business you don’t have time to do (greasing wheels/accounting, caulking gaps/business reports, patching highways/relationship management) in-source a tool that allows you to manage your main enterprise efficiently, that also takes care of the pesky creaks and rumbles too.

Bold statements from a business you’ve (almost) certainly never heard of. Why is that? Our tech is great, our philosophy is in line with the times, and our achievements are only outpaced by our ambitions.

So why don’t you know what we do?

Even if you’re a chef, or a farmer, or a Food Hub operator, you probably haven’t heard of us.

Why?

The answer is simple: the creak and rumble of all of those ships, and all of those trains and all of those trucks, and the quiet susurration of bills and coins cascading over each other in the background, has lulled us all to sleep. When it comes to food, and the global systems propped-up by that waterfall of noise, some of us, so blind to the idea of doing things differently that we might as well be fast asleep at the wheel. In fact, some people involved in the food industry are so cozily wrapped up in their blanket of system-inefficiency that when we come along and try to wake them up, they get angry.

The sleepers think we’re trying to sell them a dream they think they’re already having: the dream of a profitable farm, or efficient restaurant.

In short, the dream of success. In fact, some people we talk to are so unconscious they think we’re a threat to that success. Well, we’re not. The only people that have to be afraid of Local Line are those responsible for putting the rest of you to sleep in the first place.


The bottom line

We’re not starting at the bottom to foment squabbles over the crumbs falling from a multi-trillion-dollar banquet. We’re joining the bottom together to provide a level playing field so we can all collectively start supporting the best food systems without bending over backwards to do it.

  • If you’re a small time distributor of local goods and you know you could make more deliveries and grow your business, but don’t understand the demand for your services in a region, we give you that information.
  • If you’re a small to medium sized farm, and you have a fantastic product in which you know purchasers would be interested, we connect you to those purchasers.
  • If you’re a food purchaser — whether that means you’re a restaurant, hospital, school cafeteria or whatever — and you want to source more goods locally, we provide access.

Whenever any of our clients need to understand how their business is performing in real time, we supply the data they need in those fun graphs mentioned earlier.

So, are you starting to see the depth of our tool?

We are a commerce system for food businesses, and that happens to mean a lot of things. When someone asks me “What is Local Line?” my initial reaction is to try to describe all of the functions and features and do-dads that are part and parcel to the website. But that doesn’t really answer the question, and it leads certain people to believe we’re competing with them for the same tiny slice of pie. So here’s my new answer to the question…


What is Local Line?

Local Line is how you carve yourself a larger slice of the pie to share with your family. Local Line is the alarm clock that will wake you up and show you, in no uncertain terms, that there is a better way to run your food business.

And, for all of us, save us from the creaky, rumbling, 20th century “modern” food system.


— Written by Chef Tom Bryce-Hart (tbryce-hart@localline.ca)
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