- Challenge: How do you keep a traditional market business going during a nationwide lockdown?
- Solution: Create an online store with Typeform, Stripe, and other online tools.
- Result: Idea to first online order in less than 48 hours—and 23k euros in the first month, working two days a week.
From marketers to marketing
These days when we talk about marketers, we think of people eyeing dashboards trying to square their CAC with their LTV. But there was a time when marketing actually meant going to the market to sell physical products.
The Schmahl family are the latter type. They buy fresh produce from local farmers, and sell it at weekly markets in the Chamonix Valley area of the French Alps. It’s been their livelihood for over 35 years. And they love it.
“My parents couldn’t be more traditional. They’re around 60 years old and getting towards the end of their careers, but they still feel attached to the market life. My dad wakes up at like 3am every day.”
Their son, Florent, grew up helping with the family business. Then in his 20s, he became a marketer himself—the digital kind. Now he's Head of Growth at Shoelace, a Canadian startup focusing on customer journeys.
For years, he’s been asking his parents to take their business online. Running a farmer’s market stall in a 100% traditional way is hard work—and they’re not getting any younger.
“I tell them they already have the clients, they just have to set something up. But my mom doesn’t have Facebook, and my dad refused to even get an iPhone. So it was always ‘no, no, no.’”
That was until COVID-19 happened.
The French government responded to coronavirus with a national lockdown. This forced the markets where the Schmahls set up their stall to close indefinitely—just as prime business season was starting in March-April.
As head of the local market union, Florent’s father tried to negotiate fair conditions to re-open the markets—but was unsuccessful. With their livelihood potentially suspended for months, things looked bleak.
“My dad was at the lowest point I’ve seen him in a very long time. So I was like, ‘give me a few hours.’ I pulled up Typeform, and my brother took a picture of my parents in front of their truck.”
Florent finally had a chance to show how valuable taking the Schmahl family business online could be. But he needed to act fast. Selling strawberries on the internet wasn’t his day job, and it was already Saturday night.
So he came up with a simple plan:
Create a typeform to collect orders for fruit & veg boxes.
Set up the Stripe integration to take payments within the form.
Send customer contact and delivery info from Typeform to Google Sheets automatically.
Connect Google Sheets to Sendinblue for email and SMS communication with customers.
Use Circuit to automatically find the best delivery routes based on the Google Sheets info.
Well, simple if you work at a startup at least. Florent had already used Typeform for an acquisition project, which was how he discovered the Stripe integration.
“I’m pretty obsessed with customer flow, and I love the flow of Typeform. With its conversion rate possibilities, Typeform is the most efficient way to enable ecommerce transactions.”
In just "four or five hours," Florent had thrown together a potential solution. By Sunday evening his father was sharing the typeform with their 30 most loyal customers—via SMS, as not everyone in the French Alps always has access to email.
Would they embrace this new online solution?
The Stripe fruits of labor
TL;DR: yes. Orders started coming in almost immediately. Then Florent’s brother posted the typeform on Facebook, along with the picture he took so people could recognize them. 50 people shared it.
Within 48 hours, they had 130 orders.
“My dad spends hours staring at the screen watching new orders come in! ”
But what amazed Florent’s father even more was the simplicity of taking online payments with the Typeform + Stripe integration:
“My parents touched every single penny that they earned in their entire life. They never accepted card payments. When I told my dad the money was in his account already after the first order came in, that blew his mind.”
The typeform helps calculate the exact quantities of each product he needs to buy too, “so the whole thing is waste-free.” It also has the picture of his parents on the Welcome Screen, which reassures less internet-savvy customers that they’re still buying the same produce from the same people.
Even with his digital marketer’s hat on, Florent is impressed:
“Right now the conversion rate of the typeform is at 10.6%. For the pace at which I executed this, it beats any smart landing page you could make.”
And customers aren’t the only ones being converted by Typeform:
“Now my parents have farmers calling to say, ‘Hey, can I put my product in your box?’ ”
The Schmahl family online shop made 23,000 euros in their first month. That's a bit more than a typical month—working only two days a week instead of five.
While Florent predicts this will decrease when things go back to normal, he plans to continue scaling the online side of the business. Right now his parents still have to make deliveries themselves, but the goal is to slowly wind down until they don’t have to do the markets anymore.
Which means that in a few years they’ll be eyeing their dashboards, trying to square their CAC with their LTV. Just like Florent.
How Florent did it
Looking to set up your own online shop? Here's a few features that Florent and family put to work for them.
1. Stripe integration
The Calculator feature automatically adds up the total cost of customers orders based on their typeform answers. Learn how to make your own typeform order form using Calculator.
3. Google Sheets integration
Once customers complete their order, their contact and delivery info is beamed straight to a Google Sheet. Setting up the Google Sheet integration yourself is a breeze.
4. Welcome Screen
The Schmahls open their typeform with a message to their customers—along with their friendly faces. Make your typeform more personal by adding your own Welcome Screen.
Looking to set up your online shop? Get started with an online order form template here.