Foraged is a two-sided marketplace for fresh wild and specialty foods like berries, mushrooms, truffles, and more. Foragers, farmers, and local stores list their products through the platform’s vendor portal, and everything from home cooks to Michelin-starred restaurants buy the products through the Foraged website or app. Using Medusa, the team has developed a custom experience where vendors can manage their entire shop from their dashboard, which is powered by Medusa. Meanwhile, customers can message, follow, and place special orders with their favorite sellers.
Maximum flexibility to build a custom marketplace
As producers and users of wild and specialty foods, Foraged founders Jack and Andy noticed the difficulties in selling and procuring these foods, which mostly happened locally or via small online communities. Driven by their passion for the area, they wanted to solve this problem via an online marketplace that would make wild and specialty foods more accessible to both professional and amateur chefs while giving small local businesses a new place to find customers.
“If you take this very fragmented market and combine it with an incredibly passionate community and put that together on a platform marketplace, that’s a huge unlock.
Co-founder and CEO at Foraged
To build a first-of-its-kind wild and specialty food marketplace, they brought together a diverse team, including experienced engineers and a chef from Michelin-starred Noma, and later brought along prominent investors, including the VC firm Bessemer.
For the proof of concept, Foraged attempted two approaches: customizing a WooCommerce shop and building their own custom platform. However, both approaches had shortcomings.
With the WooCommerce shop, vendors had performance issues during traffic peaks as the application quickly got bloated from handling too many integrations. With the custom-built solution, the engineering team encountered bugs and instabilities in their ecommerce platform at every release. This was problematic since Foraged wanted to do several weekly releases as a fast-scaling company. Additionally, it was challenging to develop all commerce-related functionality from the ground up.
To solve the challenges, the team decided to look for alternative options. Specifically, the team was looking to:
- Support multiple vendors, ensuring each vendor is able to handle products, shipping, orders, customers, and discount logic for their own store.
- Extend admin functionality beyond regular commerce logic, ensuring vendors can chat with customers, track store followers, and similar.
- Integrate with multiple outside services to add functionalities to the platform, like Shippo to handle vendor shipments, Auth0 for store access control, Contentful for product enrichment, etc.
The solution needed to be easily customizable and extensible to meet these requirements. Additionally, it had to provide a good developer experience when integrating with third-party solutions. The team found Medusa's modular architecture the perfect starting point for this.
“Medusa was a saving grace really. There was no other alternative that would give us the control and customization options needed to build the unique customer and vendor experiences we wanted.
Co-founder and Head of Product at Foraged
Vendor dashboard to manage everything
With many smaller shops and sellers on the platform, operating the store as frictionlessly as possible was a top priority for Foraged. Leveraging Medusa enabled them to focus on crafting a seamless vendor experience instead of building table-stakes commerce logic. Medusa’s modules would provide the necessary commerce features out-of-the-box while also offering the flexibility to add custom elements and integrate with 3rd party services.
A key element in the seamless vendor experience was to ensure vendors could manage all store operations directly from their admin dashboard. To do this, Foraged enabled vendors to directly interact with 3rd party systems from the Medusa Admin, which is easily extensible through on-page widgets or UI routes to create new pages. Some of their custom extensions include:
- User authentication for store admins to sign in to their store via a Gmail account or equivalent SSO option via Auth0.
- Store dashboard to view order notifications, find relevant articles, and access store data such as sales numbers, product views, and top-selling products.
- Fulfillment management enables merchants to create shipments, print shipping labels, and track deliveries directly in their Admin. A custom Shippo integration powers all this.
- Extended product information allows vendors to enrich product pages with additional data such as custom measurement specifications (Ozs., ltr., kg. etc.) and more product pictures using Medusa’s Contentful integration.
- Message app for customers to directly message vendors with order inquiries, product questions, and more powered by SendBird. Vendors can manage all chats directly from their admin dashboard.
- Waitlist feature allows vendors to receive notifications when a customer signs up for a product that is currently out of stock.
- Follower lists enable customers to follow and get notifications about their favorite stores’ products. Vendors can view all followers within their Admin Dashboard.
Medusa’s out-of-the-box functionalities, such as order overviews, product management, discounts, gift cards, etc., created an easy-to-manage dashboard for the Foraged vendors. Likewise, Medusa’s functionality was easily linked to the storefront, allowing the team to quickly and efficiently ship a great customer-facing webpage for the vendor's products.
Improved development speed
In addition to providing the team with the flexibility to build a customized vendor and customer experience, Medusa enabled the team to move much faster than anticipated. Previously, they had a troubled release process with several instabilities, but now they can ship multiple times per week without issues. Furthermore, pre-built Medusa integrations for solutions such as Contentful, Stripe, Algolia, and others helped the team quickly get up and running.
“We now release to production several times a week as Medusa is just easy to work with. Shifting to Medusa has felt a bit like going from building a car from scratch to getting our own custom one where we just had to hook up the wires and put them together.
Co-founder and Head of Product at Foraged
Next up, the team is looking to include subscription payments, allowing customers to subscribe to certain specialty foods for monthly deliveries. Aside from this, they are working on enabling vendors to create storefront customizations and utilizing Algolia to power dynamically populated shopping experiences that make it easier for customers to discover relevant products on the marketplace.
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