Hi, my name is Gareth. I’m a co-founder and member of Regather Cooperative. We operate an online fruit and veg box scheme which uses the Boxmaster Systems platform. Due to various factors we need to find an alternative to Boxmaster, before the end of 2022. We are not alone - there are around 20 box schemes nationally currently using Boxmaster, a number of which are coops, all of which support local, nature friendly food systems. These users are organised and well connected via a Better Food Traders facilitated working group, enabling effective communication and decision making. We are exploring various existing third party alternatives, but all these would require some form of substantial compromise in terms of functionality, user experience, market positioning, running costs, data ownership etc. etc. etc. There are a small number of new platforms being developed to serve this niche market, but currently these are privately owned, for profit initiatives. We therefore think there is a significant opportunity to develop a co-op owned and governed online box scheme management platform. If any of this is of any interest I would love to hear from you. Thanks, Gareth and the Regather team.
Have you considered OFN (Open Food Network)?
There’s a local node for UK (https://openfoodnetwork.org.uk/), but you
could also put up your own server. I’m sure several cooperatives here
could help you with that.
@nick might have some ideas for the veg box platform.
I like the spirit of https://openfoodnetwork.org.uk/ too. I didn’t use it myself directly, but it seems the one that is very aligned with cotech values.
Maybe @aaron can help too
Hi @GarethR - This all sounds familiar to me. A few years ago I did a fair bit of work looking at options in this space when i was working with Pete Russell who runs Ooooby (you may have come across him/them). We looked at a wide range of available applications as Pete was looking for something to replace what was then a slightly creaky system they’d built themselves, but couldn’t find anything that was sufficiently better to make the move worthwhile. Pete has since done outstanding work to establish Ooooby in the UK (originally from NZ) and they look to be doing great work so I assume they’ve invested in improving their system (which I thought was pretty strong anyway). Ooooby isn’t a cooperative (yet), but as far as I know Pete’s plan for the business is to convert to a form of cooperative ownership. I would encourage you to contact him to see if there’s a solution there - he’s totally passionate about changing the food system and a thoroughly nice person to boot. Happy to put you in touch if that’s helpful.
Yes, we are in touch with OFN, and know the UK organisers fairly well. Unfortunately OFN does not offer sufficient functionality for what we currently do, and want to do in the future. Whilst they do offer something useful to certain food system actors as evidenced by their user base what we and other box schemes like do is not really supported by what OFN offer.
Thanks Graham - could we arrange a quick call if that’s OK? Based on our research Ooooby is a strong contender to replace Boxmaster. Pete has certainly made himself available to speak with the Boxmaster user group, via Better Food Traders, but as things have progressed it’s now up to individual businesses to decide what’s best for them. I’d value the opportunity to speak with you, and maybe bring in a couple of colleagues who are more hands on with our current Boxmaster set up. Any further insights into Ooooby would be useful at this point in time.