Author Topic: How to place an order  (Read 8152 times)

Offline Wendy

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How to place an order
« on: September 19, 2011, 03:22:25 PM »

Once a new order has been announced for your group (you will get an email or a newsletter from this forum with deadlines and details), orders should be made using Essential's online catalogue.

We are no longer offering any kind of flexibility in how we receive your order. Full step-by-step instructions follow. If this is inconvenient, then please consider that what we're asking you to do is a very small price to pay for getting your wholefoods at wholesale prices free of delivery charges, particularly if you haven't volunteered to help receive and process the orders. It's also considerably less work than it takes to collate and administrate a group order. While group admins might have every sympathy with your difficulties, we already have more than enough work on our hands to somehow fit into our already-busy lives. So please don't ask us to sort your order out into the correct format for you, as a refusal often offends. (See member responsibilities on this page.) If you need help, find another member or ask questions on this forum.

We understand not everyone has internet access or even computers, but everyone has friends who do, or access to the public library which does. If you don't have a computer and struggle to use them, please find a friend who can help you out.

Please note you can't make attachments to emails on an iPad so you will need to use an online file repository (like Dropbox) for sending us your order. Make sure your file is publicly accessible and then simply email group admins the download link for your file.


All coop members have access to Essential's online trade catalogue through the coop's accounts with them. Membership entitles you to order with any of the regular monthly group orders, regardless of the group you're assigned to as your 'home' group. You just have to be prepared to travel to the group's collection point at short notice to pick up your order. Under no circumstances can you use the group accounts to make orders on your own behalf outside of the group orders. If you abuse the system in this way you will be asked to leave.

Use the shopping basket in Essential's online catalogue to assemble your order. Login details for the catalogue are in the Essential section of the forum (members only - you will need to log in to this forum using the username and password you were sent when you joined the coop before you can access this section of the forum). Once you've logged into Essential's catalogue, simply use the search function to find the items you want and add them to your shopping basket.

If you find items already in the basket when you log in, please think! This is a group account and someone may be in the middle of putting their order together. Watch the basket for a while to see if items are changing before you clear it to do your own order. Similarly, if you're in the middle of your order and want to take a break, please think of the people who might be waiting to use the basket and finish your order first, especially if it's close to the order deadline.

Essential allow you to split some packs in their catalogue. These are marked by an asterisk (*) rather than a multiplication sign (x) in the bulk pack size listings - eg. 6 * 250g instead of 6 x 250g. The online catalogue will tell you the minimum quantity you can order from splittable packs, which varies from pack to pack.

Please note you can't order any fridge items - the order does not come in refrigerated transport. Fridge items are now marked with a blue C in the online catalogue. Neither can you order very light but bulky items like toilet rolls and crisps - these take up a lot of room on a pallet and could potentially force the use of another part pallet for which we would have to pay a delivery charge.

If you want to share packs with other members, either arrange it between friends or use the Order Sharing section of this forum to find people to share with you. It's your responsibility to make sure the entire pack is accounted for before placing an order for it. When ordering packs that you're sharing with other coop members, please make sure you clarify between you who is going to put the item(s) on their order. Essential load the pallets as soon as they receive our order and duplicate items can't be removed once loaded.


When you've finished adding everything you want to the shopping basket, click at the right hand corner of the menu line at the top of the page.

Your order will look something like this

The basket total will give you an approximate indication of what you will need to pay - it includes VAT but there may be price changes by the time the order is submitted, out of stock items and substitutions to your order to take into account, and although we've yet to pay a part-pallet delivery charge, there is always this possibility.

Once you've checked that you have everything you want in the quantities you want, click When the page refreshes, it will look something like this

Click the button . This downloads a spreadsheet of your order to your computer.

Locate the file (it will be called WEB[IDnumber].csv where [IDnumber] is the number of the order) on your computer and attach it to an email. Please send the file exactly as you downloaded it. Don't open the file or rename it before sending it. If you want to check the file before sending it, create a copy of it and open that, but please send us the original file unopened. (We all use different computers and operating systems. Just the act of opening the file can make subtle changes to it to adapt it to your particular system's way of handling .csv files. This can make it impossible for others to open.)

Send the email to your group coordinator at for Benfeita, for Barril, for Gouveia,
or for Tábua

Use the [back] button on your browser to go back to the 'My basket' page and select . Confirm your deletion to leave the basket empty for the next person. Please remember to empty the basket before you leave the site.

When placing your order, please include your name, email address we should use to contact you for out of stocks and bills, and mobile phone number so we can tell you when your order is ready to collect.


Once everyone's orders are received, they're amalgamated and submitted to Essential who invoice us for everything they're able to supply. Inevitably there'll be some items which are out of stock. Essential's range is such that it's usually possible to find substitutes from other manufacturers and brands, so if you have items that are out of stock, we'll email you to let you know and you'll have the chance to make substitutions. This is a time-critical process, so if you haven't replied within 24 hours, we'll assume you don't want to make any substitutions and proceed to send out bills. Please make sure you check your email account daily if you don't want to miss this opportunity.

Please note that not all groups in the coop offer this option. It's a lot of extra admin work which is at the discretion of each group admin to accept. Or not. If you don't get offered the opportunity to substitute an out of stock item, you can always reorder the following month with another group.


Once we've agreed the final total with Essential, allowing for such things as out of stock items and substitutions, price changes and any part-pallet delivery charges which may apply, we'll send out the bills. If a delivery charge applies, then this will be pro-rated according to each person's total order weight.

You will be informed of your invoice total by email and will be expected to pay this immediately. Because we're ordering from a UK company, orders are invoiced in £. All orders must be paid for in advance before the order can be despatched by transfer to your group coordinator who will then make the payment of the total to Essential. The groups have different options for paying in £ or € and full payment details will be included with your bill. Please make sure you check your email frequently and be ready to pay your bill as soon as you receive notification of the final amount.

Please note that because each group operates independently with their own accounts with suppliers, credit for missing or damaged goods is not transferable between groups.


The order generally takes around a month to get here from the order deadline date, but can be anywhere between 3 and 5 weeks, depending on how smoothly each phase of the process goes. We post updates to the forum to tell you where we're at with the latest order, but once the order has been paid and despatched we won't hear anything from the hauliers until a few hours before the order is due to be delivered ... if we're lucky. Although the UK transport company who collect from Essential pass on the instruction every time to notify us at least 24 hours from delivery, often the first we know about it is when the truck turns up. So if the latest order update on the forum says the order has been paid and despatched, there's nothing to be gained from contacting group admins to ask them when the order is due. We don't know.

When the order arrives, the delivery team unload it and check it and divide it up into everyone's individual orders. Once that process is complete and we've noted all the discrepancies, breakages, etc, we need to report to Essential, you will receive a text message telling you the order is ready for collection. Please collect your order, or arrange to have it picked up, within 24 hours of receiving this text message, and be sure to bring containers for any packs you are sharing with others. We don't have storage facilities or bags.

Please check your order on receipt. If you notice a problem which the delivery team haven't already told you about (items missing, broken items, incorrect items, etc) please let us know right away. Discrepancies have to be reported to Essential within 7 days of delivery in order to receive credit.

Details of the total order and its associated financial transactions are available to all members on completion of the order on request.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2017, 10:20:34 PM by Wendy »