Image description: A lady in an ‘Oxford Eats’ branded T-shirt holds up her phone, showing the ‘Oxford Eats’ logo.
Emily Beauchamp is launching a new food delivery app called Oxford Eats, which will provide a cheaper and fairer platform for Oxford’s independent food businesses to manage their orders with. I spoke to Emily about what inspired her and her family to set up the business, and why students should use her app over more established competitors.
What inspired you to set up Oxford Eats?
In the first lockdown, my husband, my brother and I were talking about ways in which we could support the local community, and we knew that the hospitality industry was going to be hit quite hard. Although none of us come from a background in that industry, we knew we wanted to do something. So, we did a bit of research and discovered the commission charged on every order by a traditional food delivery app is anywhere from 14% to 40%. We were really shocked; as consumers, I don’t think we’re really aware of that. We discovered Local Eats, a software package developed by two guys up north, which is basically exactly the same technology as Just Eat. They were selling the license to the software, but only to local people who would operate in the local area, to keep the money saving within that area.
How do you think the app will benefit local food businesses?
First and foremost, it will help them to save money. The businesses that have come on board so far are so keen to make this work, because they’re fed up with paying the commission that they paid to the bigger corporations. The bigger corporations don’t do anything for the businesses either, so you pay all that commission purely to be on the app – there’s no advertising. Think of the Just Eat adverts with Snoop Dogg. These adverts are all KFC, McDonald’s and Subway, and they never show smaller businesses. If local Oxford restaurants want to be top of the list on Just Eat, they have to pay for that.
There are no additional costs to our commission. We charge 7.5%. There are no other costs on top of that – we don’t charge a join up fee. There’s a refundable deposit for the ordering terminal, and that’s £150, but we can deduct that weekly, and that’s purely to cover how much the terminal costs.
How will the app actually work – are you providing the delivery service yourself?
Further down the line we will be able to offer delivery, but, really, we’re a platform for advertising on. A lot of restaurants now have their own websites that you can order food on, but you end up having 14 different apps and accounts on your phone, and it’s just not realistic. You want it all in one place.
Why should a student use Oxford Eats to order food, rather than using more established apps?
To support the local businesses. I think when people hear how much the businesses are charged, they will be shocked. We’re also going to run lots of competitions for students because it’s such a huge market, and it’s super important that we get students on board.
Will it be cheaper for students to use Oxford Eats rather than a competitor?
The prices on the menu will be just the normal prices that the restaurants set themselves, but we will be offering exclusive deals and offers. As using Oxford Eats will save the business money, this will allow them to offer more discounts and promotions as well.
Which Oxford food businesses have joined the app so far?
We’ve got about 20 on board at the moment, but we’re still announcing them on our social media, so I’m not going to tell you all of them! We’ve got a good range of food on board, from restaurants which are fully functioning takeaways, to things that are very different as well. We’ve got start-up businesses who are cooking from kitchens at home at the moment, who want to expand their businesses. We’ve got a great alcohol delivery serving cocktails called the Bearded Vikings, which I can imagine could become quite popular. We’ve got a vast array of places to choose from, including Indian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, chicken shops, Venezuelan restaurants and pizza restaurants. We’re still signing restaurants at the moment.
What’s your long-term vision for Oxford Eats?
Further down the line we want to be supporting local charities and local food banks and to be able to offer sponsorships. We want to have a voice in the community and to be able to support people because, ultimately, that that was our intention in setting up the app.
Also, Oxford Eats as a piece of technology doesn’t solely have to sell food and drink. We will be able to expand to things like florists – if you’ve got a product to sell, you can be on the app. We would love to be able to expand further than just the centre of Oxford to cover the whole of Oxfordshire, but that would be a slow process because, like I’ve mentioned, the most important thing is keeping it local.
Where will Oxford Eats be delivering to?
The majority of the businesses on the app will offer delivery to OX 1, 2, 3 and 4, although some are collection only.
When will the app be released?
So, the app is officially launching on the 1st April. It was a tricky decision to launch on April Fool’s Day, but it’s absolutely not a joke! The app will be available to download a few days before that.
Do you have anything else to add?
If you’re interacting with Oxford Eats, you’re only interacting with one of four people. If you’re interacting with Just Eat, who knows who you’re speaking to, or whether you’ll actually ever get a response from them. All our support is local. I’ve lived in Oxford for ten years, and my husband is Oxford born and bred. We want to be very visible and that’s super important to us.
The app will be available to download from Android and Apple stores. All announcements are made from Oxford Eats social media pages: facebook.com/oxfordeats or @oxfordeatsUK. During launch week there will be at least 10% off every order placed through the app, but there are more goodies to be announced too. An exclusive student competition to win six months of takeaways is coming!
Image credit: Emily Beauchamp