For many of our members, one of the biggest challenges of 2022 has been how to respond to Boxmaster’s announcement that they will soon cease to operate. Owner and developer Michael has just confirmed he will terminate the service on the 29th June 2023. So for veg box schemes looking to migrate to another platform, what are the options?
Cambridge Organic new platform
A bespoke platform is currently being developed by Better Food Trader member Cambridge Organic. The wireframe will be ready to present to the BFT network on Tuesday 10th January and hopefully the platform will be ready to launch by the summer. Please email email@example.com if you would like to join the presentation.
The Out Of Our Own Backyard software is a comprehensive system designed by people who have run their own box scheme. They have a clear idea of how processes should work and provide lots of customisations for customers, including one-off, weekly or fortnightly purchases; build-you-own-box; exclusion of items, and a food-miles calculator.
On Ooooby, each box scheme can become a “hub” from the main Ooooby website, or you can link to your Ooooby shop from your website. There is a good range of administrative and operational functionality including sales, retention and finance reports; individual picking/packing sheets; the option to bill customers for items not ordered online (ie extra items picked up), and cancellation reasons logged on the customer’s account. Ooooby also supports promo codes, and creates optimised and editable delivery routes.
The main downside is a lack of customisation for the front end. It’s a fixed layout format, and while Ooooby plan to add the option to edit colours and fonts in the future, for now it’s limited to your own logo and main imagery. It also does not currently integrate with Xero or similar accounting software, and does not manage inventory levels.
Ooooby are offering a special discount to Better Food Trader members – see your December newsletter for details.
The Open Food Network
OFN is a marketplace designed with food hubs as core users, built on an Open Source structure and values. You can add products to your shop both from your own stock and/or from other producers around you – great if you’re a food hub and want to sell produce from multiple suppliers. You can set up a number of payment methods and create multiple pick-up points and delivery details.
It’s a simple back-end allowing you to set images, descriptions, prices, stock levels and flexible weights and measures, but the customer-facing side is equally simple meaning there is little scope for personalising away from the OFN-branded site.
The down-side for veg box schemes is that the subscription functionality is not really advanced enough for anyone operating at scale, so it works better for one-off purchases rather than regular weekly orders.
OFN is offering a special discount to Better Food Trader members – see your December newsletter for full info/see below.
Another veg box platform has been developed called Growing Good, which has just gone live for Sandy Lane Farm. It appears to have all of the obvious features, but we have not seen a demo and we would recommend contacting Growing Good or Sandy Lane to find out more.
Delivery Biz Pro
New York-based Delivery Biz Pro combines e-commerce and delivery management in one platform. It can handle individual orders as well as recurring items, and features include Recurring Only or Pre-order product settings; payment gateway integration; lots of customer email templates, and optimised and editable delivery routes.
One of the strengths of this platform is that it also has a website-builder, so your front end can be personalised with your own branding, layout and photo galleries.
Delivery Biz Pro does not publish its pricing online but says charges are based on a setup fee, monthly subscription fee, and any custom development costs. You can find out more by going to https://www.deliverybizpro.com/apply-now/.
The Canadian e-commerce platform is probably the best full-service software out there. If you are running a physical shop plus local delivery and/or shipping, Shopify allows you to manage all of your inventory across sites, and handles point-of-sale, web sales, website hosting, customer retention, financial reporting, voucher codes, e-marketing, shipping and delivery routes all in one place. It also integrates with all of the major accounting software, and has a wealth of plug-ins and apps that you can purchase separately – such as Freshly to manage stock according to batch numbers and expiry dates.
The biggest down-side is that there is no in-built subscription feature, so for veg boxes you need to add on a subscription app such as Recharge, Bold or Charge Rabbit, which is an additional monthly cost. It will seem very complicated if you’re not so tech-savvy, but it’s a joy if you want to customise everything from your website design to your emails to customers. The fees are also reasonably high – good value if you’re using all of the features and not having to pay for separate POS and delivery software, but probably not worth it if you’re a smaller operation.
For Better Food Traders who run on a non-for-profit basis, Shopify offers low or no transaction fees and reduced Shopify fees. They have two Not-for-Profit Organisation (NPO) plans, and to sign up for one of these plans you need to contact Shopify Support directly so they can verify your NPO status and apply the relevant discounts.
This information has been compiled with the help of BFT members Alice Brown, Zosia Walczak, Kim Brooks, Duncan Catchpole and Gareth Roberts.
If you would like to hear what others in the network have chosen, or need tips on how to manage your migration, get onto the Better Food Traders Slack and ask the network!
Image credit: Organic Lea