Box builder

The ability to create a box that is a combination of various products from different enterprises would be a worthwhile feature.

It is mentioned on the CSA features topic.

Case 1: We have a hub that is interested in coming on board, they are offering a subscription service (requiring Standing Orders and Stripe Connect) and their box contains items from a range of producers. In order for them to notify producers directly from the order cycle, they will need to have a feature that will allow them to build a box.

Case 2: A local hub has a long list of products, customers have asked for some basic box options (fresh veg, pantry staples…) to make ordering easier. Having a box builder tool would give them the flexibility to create a variety of ‘sets’ of products, while still enabling them to show their entire selection in the storefront.


concur this would be an amazing new feature.

UK have had requests for similar. I imagine a ‘composite product’ builder within the products tab. You can then add a list of products and a price. Composite products are converted into sets of individual products from the supplier perspective.

I know one Food Hub that would use this often choose the contents of the box after the order cycle has closed, so I think it would be important for a ‘composite product’ to be available for sale with a description but without the full contents determined.

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Also that would prevent some confusion about a hub being forced to register as a producer (and appear as a producer) when they sell boxes made from products from different producers :slight_smile:
That was also a request from some French users.

@lin_d_hop @Kirsten @CynthiaReynolds @MyriamBoure This post has been talking about a ‘box builder’ (feature we’d also like in Canada.) BUT - in Canada we’d also like OFN optimized in other ways for CSA models. More and more CSAs are diversifying - some shares, some online market, some sales to foodhubs, incoming products from other farms… So for us it makes sense to be able to have stronger CSA features in OFN. AND I think I just uncovered an opportunity to move that forward. I am sitting in a trade show promoting OFN (going VERY well) and met with representatives from a Canadian group called “Harvest Hand” They wrote software for CSA farmers (I love it) and have just put their code into open source. She told me it is on github - but I couldn’t locate it. They are super keen about OFN and maybe a collaboration. The software is not their primary thing (they are a farm advancing flax to linen production in Canada - also super cool.) So - they’d be interested in a conversation to explore if there is potential to bring their CSA code into OFN maybe. Who should be pinned on this and linked into this option?

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I think this could be their software:

Its PHP so not possible to “combine” the code in any way. Comparing features and UX, etc could be useful.

@tschumilas At a cursory glance it looks to me like there won’t be any actual code that we can combine with OFN. What you might be able to do is build a more thorough spec of the functionality you actually want based on their software. That would be a big step in progressing this and specifying when there is some funding for the work. A thorough spec would also likely help you to get funding for the work itself.

Drat - thanks for looking at this so quickly @lin_d_hop and @pmackay. The representative of Harvest Hand I was talking with was (like me) the non-tech partner in the venture. So to us it was a great vision. Now I know to at least ask some basic questions first. Regardless, I made a great new contact and friend - and I’m going to use the HH platform for my own CSA this season - so that when we come to add such a feature to OFN, I have some more user experience to bring to the table.

CSA/box building tools remain high on the Canada wish list (although we have no money yet to move on this) Many CSAs I speak with are ‘hybrids’ of ‘traditional’ CSAs, buying clubs + food hubs (meaning they use elements of all these models). They are looking for platforms that let them combine these various features, and it seems OFN is close to that - except for the box building features. So - one farmer pointed me to this (I think realtively new) open source project - - whose back end is based on Ruby on Rails I believe. Anyone familiar? I think a CSA crowd sourcing campaign could be developed that could build this in OFN. Or we could ‘sell’ the development like a CSA share - so a development of CSA software share, where OFN developers get ‘cash up front’ and then the CSA gets use of the software once developed. Who else has box builder interests? @lin_d_hop @MyriamBoure @CynthiaReynolds ??

I definitely recognize the need for it, so far it has not been requested for the users but for sure we would get more users if there were CSA features like that. So in short: not in our priority list but we want that :slight_smile:

Ok I’m happy to reactivate that discussion as we do have two needs in France, and hopefully one paying customer for it (let’s see if we win, we are replying to an RFP :-))

Yes, that’s how I see it too.
You don’t need to be a producer to create a composite product, hubs can also do it.

So if I propose a composite product in an OC, when the order cycle is closed, I can know about the number of composite products purchased, but also the total quantities needed by every supplier to make the baskets. Either in notify producers (they receive the info about the amount of products composing the composite products they need to deliver), or also in the exports I should have access to all those infos.

I agree that the composition can be changed after an order cycle, and it should be compulsory to attach any product to a composite product to leave the possibility to sell a composite product for which you don’t yet the components. But obviously in terms of stock management it can cause issues (if you link after the sale a composite product to a product that is out of sales, or which quantities are not sufficient, etc.)

@enricostn do you also have that in your buying group requirement ?

I’m leaving tomorrow so don’t think I can work on the spec before September though but if others want feel free :slight_smile:

Ping @pierredelacroix and @Lory

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Hi there ! I have worked of a v1 of a mock-up on it as we have an important new partner in France who is strategic for our local strategy, and he needs that feature. It’s a local cooperative gathering 50 producers, 750 families and 8 employees, they deliver every week vegetable / fruits / dairy / eggs / bread baskets (each in various sizes options) through 14 distribution hubs.
They need three majors features to be added and one of them is the box builder as they want to automatize the orders to the producers (the two others are the ability for the customer to manage his subscription - standing orders v2 I guess, and the %discount tag as they offer social prices for low income families). Today what they sell is just a basket, but then they have a complex process to compose those baskets every week with what is available at the producers, etc. They try to match the best possible the price of the basket they sell, and the sum of the prices of the components they put in the basket.

I brainwashed a bit on that and have come up with a first prototype that I would like your feedback on to see if it covers your need, or if you would see that differently. Feel free to comment directly the slides on google slides (fonction “comment”) or comment here.

I have not yet worked on the impact in terms of reports / notify producer button, etc. let’s take it step by step and see first how we see that working :wink:

Ping @lin_d_hop @tschumilas @CynthiaReynolds @Rachel @Lory @sstead @danielle @Kirsten @enricostn @sauloperez

This is of high importance to me, particularly in how we do it as it is functionality that is also needed for another client we have that doesn’t use OFN. I am interested in using ‘box builder’ as a test case for slightly modular feature (gem?) that can be called by two (or more) different rails apps. The client in question will be willing to invest. I am loathe to be building ‘box builder’ twice in two different systems at twice the cost …

@myriamboure - is this something that needs to be agreed / commenced before December? because it could be a really good thing to do in situ w us and @enrico @tshulimas and maybe @pau?

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I finally had the chance to take a good look at this @MyriamBoure. It looks like a very good feature and you’ve put a lot of thought in so far. Thank you!

It seems that this might need some time talking through and sounds like when you all meet in Australia that might be the perfect time.

My first thoughts are around the UX of first creating a composed product in the product screen, and then filling in the details in the Composed Products screen. I know I would find this confusing to move between entirely different sections to fill in the details of the product I was creating. It might be more intuitive if the Edit Product screen could allow us to fill in the products, within a separate side tab.

I’m also interested in the use case in which the same hub has different distributors that have different components in the boxes. I can see this is a possibility for some cases, but I wonder if this is crucial for the first iteration of the feature? I wonder if this is super important to the MVP? Or would it simplify things if these slightly different boxes for different distributors could be entirely different composed products altogether? It is slightly more work for the hub manager but it would save huge complexity and cost in getting a first round feature created and useful for most farms and hubs.

Just some thoughts. I’m very interested in how this progresses :slight_smile:

There are some users in Canada that would be keen on the box builder too. Plus if we make it so that it is useful for single or multi-farm CSAs, then that opens up a whole new group of potential users here. So I"m keen.
I think as a minimum we need a hub to be able to ‘compile’ a composite product (box or share) drawing goods from diverse suppliers. I think there are use cases where different distributors have different box combos - like for example, a multi-farm CSA that has different delivery areas and builds their boxes different for each area (because of availability of other local supply in those areas perhaps). BUT this could be accomplished by the hub making multiple composite products in an OC, and then only selecting the ones they want for each distributor - couldn’t it?
I think what is key, is that the hub needs to be able to draw in any variants (for which they have permission), and these variants need to ‘count down’ in inventory when the composite is sold. Tax question - are the products in the box taxed (as they would be as single products) or is the box itself taxed as one item? I think the former makes most sense - since a composite will have taxable and non-taxable items in it.

The way the hub I"ve talked to here would use this is a bit different - but I think it still works. They would sell a ‘surprise box’ - and not disclose the contents. They would wait until the OC has closed, and then build the sold boxes based on what is pleniful in their suppliers’ inventories. They think this would make suppliers happiest.

I’ll have another thought at it, @Kirsten yes we can plan that for our December work, it is not the firs top priority for us, would be great to start in January-Feb 2018 (but we’ll need maybe to prioritize). @lin_d_hop our user has already a very achieved, almost perfect buying group model, they have 14 distribution hub and sell the same “vegetable baskets”, “fruits baskets”, “dairy baskets”, etc. subscriptions in three different size each, and with weekly of bimonthly rythm (so we’ll need also to work with you on the v2 subscription, they are a supercase I think to base our reflexion on), and then some producers deliver some baskets to some distribution hubs, but some baskets are made by the hub manager who take products from different producers catalogs. They always sell “surprise baskets” as mentioned by @tschumilas and attach the products to it after the OC is closed. There might be changes until the day of delivery.
For instance, the grape producer has 20kg grape available. They don’t have enough to put 500g in each fruit basket, so they would put 500g in each “couple size” basket for instance for the given OC.
In this case if we needed to create one composed product for each hub… I let you imagine how messy that’s going to be… it would make 6 type basket x 3 sizes x 14 hubs = 252 composed products…
I don’t see how a composed product could be envisioned without taking into account the OC and the hub… I’ll take some time next week to try to dive again more deeply and think about what could be a simpler MVP step if possible…

I work for a UK based local organic veg box scheme using the hosted service at We are starting to explore options for migrating as the service is frozen and may be discontinued next year.

I’ve had a look around and I can’t see how OFN supports veg box schemes (exclusions in particular seem problematic). Apologies if I’ve missed something but this thread seems the most relevant so I’m just wondering if there has been any progress on the feature mentioned here and/or if there is any support for vegetable box schemes utilising the service?

Hi @RaggedStaff,
If you search this forum for ‘box builder’ you will find our discussions. It is currently a feature that we are designing.
I work with the UK team and we can also explore integrations to provide some of the functionality for box building.
It would be great to chat further! Either email or let us know the best way to contact you.

Migrated to wishlist board: Ability to create a box that is a combination of various products from different enterprises · Issue #117 · openfoodfoundation/wishlist · GitHub