Your food warms hearts, spurs smiles, and delights stomachs. You also have an entrepreneurial spirit, so your search history might include the following:
You've probably used or heard of other applications that are a part of the gig economy—ride-sharing, grocery shopping, craft selling, etc.
Now, several apps allow culinary-inclined individuals to sell their homemade food online. Utilizing a food-selling app to start a virtual restaurant from home could be the small business venture you've been waiting for. An entrepreneurial cook can turn their passion into a primary or secondary income.
You don't have to do it alone, either. Tech startups have identified this market need and have developed software to help at-home chefs and bakers spread the love.
While you could always go back to selling cookies door-to-door, social media has enabled many to run small businesses effectively. Social media can help you find customers, but it leaves all business operations in your hands.
You can set up a fully supported online store with an app for selling home-cooked food. With an app like Castiron, you can build a customized shop and utilize its pain-free payments, inventory tracking, and marketing tools. You can even sell your custom-made cakes, cookies, or catering services on Castiron.
The market demand for selling homemade food online has steadily grown in the last decade. During the COVID-19 pandemic, people often found themselves at home and needed a creative and monetary outlet.
Castiron offers home chefs and bakers 100% free forever software to take their home bakery business to the next level.
You've probably heard of cottage food laws. Maybe trying to weed through your state's regulations has hindered you from seeking a permit to sell food from home.
The truth is, not every state requires a license or permit to sell food from your home. Luckily, Castiron has created The Ultimate Guide to Cottage Food Law.
Googling "how to sell food from home legally" will eventually get you to the information you need for your state, but check out the guide from Castiron to save yourself a ton of time.
The term "cottage food" refers to any food produced in a home to be sold publicly at farmer's markets, special events, out of the house, or at a roadside stand.
Typically, food prepared and sold from home would consist of products that do not require refrigeration and have a long shelf-life. However, another app for selling prepared, home-cooked food is Shef.
With Shef's service, you can select from a wide variety of authentic homemade dishes delivered to your home refrigerated. The legal space that Shef is exploring is not well-trodden, so they are currently operating in just a few large US cities like New York City and San Francisco.
Selling traditional cottage food is governed by your state and local municipality's laws. For the most part, states require you to have the following information on your product's label:
If you're interested in starting your own business from home selling food from your kitchen, start by seeing what your state and city/county allow. Here is a list of the most common cottage foods allowed:
You may be required to charge your customers sales tax — this is another feature that Castiron's food selling app provides to keep your finances in line, for the fewest surprises come tax time.
You are likely going to be required to obtain a cottage food license. For detailed instructions for applying for your license, check out this article from Castiron.
For example, a permit to sell food from home in Texas, you can sell food online, at fairs, festivals, farmers' markets, from home, and roadside stands. Like most states, commercial kitchens and equipment use is prohibited. The state also has an income cap of $50,000 annually for home-based vendors. Sales must also be direct to customers, so you cannot involve any middlemen. For certification, you must attend a food handler training program before selling. For more about Texas, click here.
When it comes to business operating software, free is often the right price for your small business. Castiron's 100% free forever guarantee is admirable, but it wouldn't matter if the homemade food selling app didn't have the tools you needed.
Luckily, Castiron is free and quite possibly the best app to sell food. Launching your store is easy—Castiron streamlines the selling process, buying experience, customer requests, inventory management, fulfillment process, and store branding.
Accessing all of these tools is completely free. Castiron makes money through a convenience fee on your orders. However, you can choose whether you, your customer, or a combination of the two pay the charge. If you want to absorb the charge to keep the burden off of your customer, you may want to raise your prices slightly to offset the cost to your bottom line. Alternatively, you could keep your prices low while moving the nominal charge to your customers. The choice is yours.
You can use Castiron's extensive research into cottage food laws to determine what you want to sell. Then, name your food business and prepare your shop. Next, you'll want to add "Standard Products" to your shop. These are items that you are always making and that your customer can expect to be available regularly. You can also offer a "Custom Product." A custom product acts like a request form from your patrons. You can review the request and add a price. If the customer agrees to the price, they can add the custom product to their cart and pay for their order directly from your Castiron store.
After determining your product offerings, you'll want to choose your fulfillment options. You can offer a combination of local pickup, delivery (within your desired parameters), and shipping. The days and times your fulfillment options are available are entirely up to you. If you are only willing to deliver on Monday mornings, you can set that up for your shop.
Now you want to get ready to take payments. Castiron processes payments through Stripe. You won't need an accountant to help you set up your account—Stripe makes things simple. With your Stripe account online, you'll be ready to make your first sale.
With so much of your business completed, you can now continue to customize your shop by adding a logo, profile photo, and cover image. You have the opportunity to add your Facebook and Instagram business page links as well. Add your Castiron store link to your social media profiles, launch your store, and start spreading the word!
Finally, share and market your business. Castiron offers several marketing tips, tools, and resources for:
You have the cookware; Castiron has the software. Together, your business is sure to be a success.
Laws on home-cooked food delivery are still evolving. Most states do not allow hot foods to be sold by home-based vendors. However, there is some tangible progress being made in statehouses across the U.S.
Delivery options for more traditional cottage foods are up to local laws and the food creator. If you're using a homemade food service like Castiron, you can fully customize the parameters you are willing to deliver. If you only want to deliver to certain Zip codes and have a delivery charge or order minimum, you can set that up.
As online homemade food delivery develops, you can focus on growing your client base with local pickups or shipping your product across your state.
If you want to start your own food delivery business, check out this article from Castiron. Your first step will be checking in with your local city hall to ascertain the rules and regulations you would need to follow.
Post-pandemic, deliveries for all kinds of goods and services are up. Depending on where you live, a market pain point could include delivering cakes, cupcakes, doughnuts, coffee, tea, or an all-inclusive candlelit dinner.
Suppose you're connected with a lot of home chefs or bakers. In that case, you may be able to leverage those relationships into a delivery business opportunity, especially if you're in a large city like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco.
Today, we can order expert or amateur crafted goods from a platform like Etsy. Having access to a service like that for food would be revolutionary. America is a melting pot, so if you miss an ethnic dish from your home country or the way grandma used to make cookies, you may be able to find a foodie friend from a homemade food app.
Ready to start selling your homemade baked goods or other treats online? Set up your free Castiron store today.
My business would not be the same without my Castiron website! It is an easy setup with lots of customization and tons of support! I am so glad I set up my shop last year before the holidays — it really helped increase my sales!
The Whimsical Cookie
Castiron provides me a professional site to my customers increasing my credibility and value while giving me the tools to effectively market and manage my business in an easy, user-friendly manner.
Wesley's Treats Hallie's Sweets
Castiron has made my cottage bakery shine, and my business easy to manage. As a platform they care about my business as much as I do.
Before Castiron, I was taking orders really manually, through emails or texts or Facebook. Now I can send customers straight to my website, and I don’t have to worry about missing any details.
I couldn't run my business without the Castiron platform. It made it so easy to get my shop up and running — it truly removed a massive barrier to me getting started!
I realized that the barrier of having to DM or text me to order was holding a lot of potential customers back.
Now that I have a professional website and a simple ecommerce checkout, I'm seeing a huge increase in new customers and they appreciate how easy Castiron makes ordering.
Easy to start, created specifically for local, handmade food: Castiron’s website builder was created to help you grow. Create a website in minutes with our templates, sell where and how your customers want to buy, and look professional without being technical. Keep customers coming back with email marketing tools, customer records, and more.
Food entrepreneurs, this is your moment. Your community is more and more conscious about what they buy and where it is from. They want food made with love. With ingredients they can pronounce. And they want to support their community while doing it.
Castiron is the best fit for your food business because we're not a one-size-fits-all tool. Selling local food is different from pre-packaged warehouse products. Whether you sell cooking classes, need local pick up, utilize pre-sales to plan inventory, or need a fully custom order form — we got you.
No code required. Add pages, sell your products, build order forms, and show off your beautiful work. We'll handle the tech so you can focus on growing your food business.
Never track down a payment or oversell products again. Real-time inventory tracking and secure payment processing make life easier for you and your customers, and our order form builder makes managing custom requests a breeze.
With our marketing tools, your email marketing can go on autopilot. We make it easy to promote your latest products, announce custom order availability, and stay connected with customers.