Spotlight on SNAP Online: Interview with Software Lead, Jon Mareane
July 12, 2021
For an estimated 25 million Americans, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) SNAP program is a necessity. In 2019, SNAP purchases made up $56 million grocery sales, and data indicates growing reliance on affordable, healthy staples.
But as we’ve seen through the pandemic, in-store shopping wasn’t always an option. In fact, many of those depending on access to groceries through SNAP benefits were those that also needed to work to support their families, and relied on delivery services to accommodate the shift in lifestyles.
Because of this need, our team is laser-focused on making it possible for independent grocers to offer their customers SNAP Online. Thousands of customers rely on local grocery to provide the healthy meals on their table, and we’re working with the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and several POS providers to make this pilot program possible for independents - not just the Walmarts and Krogers of the world.
The application is a challenging process, and there are several moving pieces to get crossed off the to-do list. To get a better understanding of what it takes and how to get started, we sat down with Rosie’s in-house SNAP expert and Software Lead, Jon Mareane, to have some of our Rosie retailers top questions answered.
*Stats provided by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and USDA
Q: What are the three things I should know before starting the application process?
1 - It’s easier than you think. There are a number of FNS or Fiserv-mandated assignments you’ll be asked to complete, but we have a strong collection of templates and guides on how to complete these. Do not be intimidated by the process.
2 - Ensure you’re eligible for SNAP. You must be located in a state where you’re able to offer online SNAP, and must be storing SNAP flags in your POS and sending them to Rosie.
3 - The sooner you complete all your FNS and Fiserv assignments, the sooner you get into the FNS testing and approval process. The FNS team is bringing retailers into the testing queue in order that they’ve completed all requisite assignments.
Bonus: Even if you’re not sure if you’re ready to dip your toes into the SNAP process just yet, go ahead and complete the first step - the letter of intent. It takes minutes and sets you up for the next stages in the process, even if you need some time before you make a final decision on pursuing online SNAP integration.
Q: So to clarify, do I have to offer in-store SNAP as well?
Yes! Please review the FNS requirements for offering online SNAP here. You will also need to ensure you’re sending the SNAP flags on a product-level basis to Rosie. Check with your POS provider or scan coordinator if you’re unsure of whether Rosie is receiving SNAP flags for your store.
Q: How long does the process take?
The pre-testing assignments & meetings with FNS & Fiserv have been taking between 2-8 weeks to complete, while the testing phase is estimated to last 1-4 weeks. We expect these timelines to shorten as more and more stores get online with SNAP.
Q: What is the approximate cost to offer SNAP Online?
Online SNAP comes at no additional cost from Rosie for our retailer partners (Essentials Tier or above). Starter stores can add SNAP via a $99/mo add-on to their ecommerce package.
Note that Fiserv, the payments provider who will be processing SNAP payments on your Rosie site, may have set up/monthly costs associated with using their service. These fee structures are variable, so please contact your Fiserv representative or the FNS-introduced Fiserv representative for more information.
Q: If I already have ecommerce with Rosie, how does this change my current online store / checkout process?
For the non-SNAP customer, very little will change. Upon entering checkout, users will see a prompt to opt in or opt out of using SNAP online. For folks that opt out, they’ll never see any SNAP options in checkout moving forward, though they can go back and opt in to using SNAP online in their preferences menu.
For folks that opt in to using SNAP online, they’ll notice a number of changes to both checkout and the shopping site. SNAP-eligible items will be marked as such on the shop, while in checkout they’ll have options to add their SNAP card, select which items to spend their benefits on or select how much they’d like to spend, and be prompted with a PIN entry system upon completing checkout.
Retailers will also notice some enhancements to the order picking process - more on that to come soon!
Local retailers already make a big impact on their local communities, and offering online and in-store SNAP ensures that all families, regardless of socioeconomic status, can access healthy and affordable food. To learn more about getting started with SNAP Online, contact Jon Mareane and his team at firstname.lastname@example.org.