What's possible with integrations?

A key strategy of the OFN team over 2022-23 is to increase the potential for bespoke modifications of the OFN platform. We call these bespoke modifications ‘integrations’. They generally involve integrating OFN functionality and data with an external tool such that we can leverage the power of the second tool to do things that OFN just doesn’t currently do.

Through 2022 we took a number of steps to enable this, including:

  • Setting up a global N8N instance. N8N is a powerful open source workflow tool that allows us to easily integrate directly with hundreds of other tools.
  • Improving the OFN API. This is ongoing work and we intend to deliver a lot of new functionality over the API in 2023.
  • Link N8N to OFN servers such that we can improve our analytics
  • Creating a specific paid role with Divyansh, to build these integrations for us.
  • Creating the API Handbook to document the tasks as we create them, making it easier for support teams to set this up for users.

Now that we have this infrastructure in place we have opened up a lot of power to create small and bespoke add-ons to streamline some of the tasks that our community food enterprises need to do. We also feel this opens the potential for revenue streams for instances as you can offer these additional features as paid add-ons to your users.

Tell me more about this power. What’s possible?

The following is by no means an exhaustive list of what is possible. It is a sampler menu. We haven’t even begun to imagine the full possibilities so if you have ideas, do share them in the #global-integrations-pipe slack channel. Some of these activities will have additional costs of the third-party tools you are using. Not all of these possibilities have been implemented yet, though some have.

  • Export any report data to Google Sheets or Airtable
  • Email any report data to a user as a CSV at a regular, scheduled time
  • Notify shoppers that an order cycle is open or closing soon by email or text message
  • Notify producers that an order cycle has just closed
  • Automatically send collection notification to shoppers
  • Create new customers in OFN
  • Export customer balances to a spreadsheet
  • Notify customers of their OFN balance via email
  • Create invoices in accounting software like Quickbooks or Xero when an order is placed
  • Email a stock report or product export (not inventory)
  • Add new shoppers to Mailchimp or newsletter tool
  • Email enterprises with business metrics summary on a regular cycle
  • Remind shoppers if they have a basket that is not checked out
  • Send a marketing email to a shopper if they haven’t shopped for some time
  • Create a dashboard of business metrics for a hub
  • Create a dashboard of metrics for an instance
  • Export product data to Airtable, modify it, then import it back to OFN
  • Plus loads more. This is a wiki so please add others…

How can I offer these to my users?

This will depend on the capacity of your support team and how you want to create a business model around these add-ons. The business models around these integrations are still being explored and iterated on by all instances.

If your support person/team feels comfortable doing so, you can set up integrations for users yourself. Go to the API Handbook to follow the instructions for setting up the integration you want. You’ll generally need an N8N account for your instance and probably accounts on the tools you are linking, that might be a user account or an instance account. As specific integrations are developed, we aim to continue adding instructions into the API Handbook to make it simple enough for support teams with limited technical knowledge to offer them directly to your users. You can then charge users or offer them for free or as packages as you feel is appropriate.

If you don’t feel confident setting them up yourself, you will likely be able to get help from another support team. Having a business model around your integrations will make this easier for everyone.

As we are at the start of our integrations journey, most integrations still need to be built. The advantage of exploring integrations for tasks is that in general this can be done much more cheaply than traditional OFN dev. Within the #global-integrations-pipe we’ll quote new integrations on a case by case basis. Ideally we can co-fund these across instances and then document them so they are accessible and easy to use for everyone in the future. The goal is that over time these add-ons can help to create more viability for instances as well as making OFN a more useful and attractive tool.

Some examples of how integrations are being offered to users:

  • OFN AU offers these all-in-one dashboards for a flat rate and/or integrations for a one-off setup fee
  • OFN UK Pricing page offers integrations add-ons

There is currently space in the integrations pipe! So get your ideas and proposals in!

I’ve got questions. How can I get help?

If you’ve got ideas for integrations and want to know if they are possible, ask in #global-integrations-pipe

If you want to see something implemented, ask in #global-integrations-pipe

If you want to play around on N8N yourself, ask in #n8n

If you want to suggest improvements to the API to give even more power, ask in #api


Might be worth having a look?

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