As our business has grown, it has become more important that the business becomes more resilient in all areas. One area is the use of software for managing our veg boxes and orders. It is for this reason that we are updating our vegbox software to OOOOBY

We’ve given you some info below but also know many people take information in more easily when it’s spoken so Chris has also done a video outlining the key things you need to know – have a watch here . We’d love you to also subscribe to our You Tube channel whilst you’re there, we’re planning to start sharing more videos on there, especially around growing.

What does OOOOBY stand for?

‘Out of our own back yard’ OOOOBY was started by an Aussie Kiwi Pete Russell who ran his own successful box scheme in Sydney for 10 years, before moving to the UK. Rosie and I met him and Seb (Head of Growth) when we were at Soul Farm in October and were impressed at their level of commitment and engagement in the sector. We liked them and believe they have a good product.

Why do we need to update our software? A brief history.

When we took on the business in 2018, Eat Your Greens was powered by an ACCESS database which ran on a Windows PC. This wsn’t an option for us as we did not have a Windows PC or the knowledge of how to use an ACCESS database!

Googlesheets

From the start we have used and built a Google sheeets spreadsheet which has worked incredibly well. Mistakes have been rare, however there is no automated link up between what we deliver and what we invoice. Also, if someone with access to the sheet types something by accident into a cell it could break it very easily. This is a problem with any business that uses spreadsheets as part of their ‘production line’. We have looked at making the spreadsheet more robust so that it couldn’t be broken easily, but this would involve a lot of work to set up and transition and still didn’t solve the problem of automating billing and delivery.

Square and wix

In 2020 we started a new website on Wix and started playing with shop functionaility. We found that the shop fuctionality within WIX was not really geared for a greengrocer because everything had to be sold in units (not kg). It was possible to customise this, but we had neither the skill nor the time.

In 2021 we started using Square to manage the shop and take payments and Square also had an online shop functionaility. However, although Square is working very well for managing the shop (and we’ll be continuing with it in the shop), it does not link up with the veg box part of the business and online orders have to be processed as part of a stand-alone process. This means it just isn’t scalable and causes extra work and therefore opportunity for mistakes.

WordPress and Woocommerce

In 2023 we changed our web platform from WIX to WordPress as this gave us more flexibility with our website for growing the business. It also gave us the opportunity to add in shop functionaility through WooCommerce. However, the WooCommerce component hasn’t really worked for us mainly because we haven’t been able to define clearly enough what our processes are and how we deal with different scenarios.

OOOOBY has been built by a box scheme deliverer and is a tried and tested solution. We know that most of the fuctionality that we require has been built already.

In short this means that we currently run the website plus Google sheets for the round sheets plus Square online for the the shop and some online sales plus Woocommerce for some veg box orders plus Xero for managing most of our invoices and business accounting. Moving to OOOOBY will hopefully streamline a lot of this and help us work a bit smarte, giving us a bit more head-space and time in the field!

What will be the benefit of ooooby for our customers?

The big benefit of updating our veg box software to OOOOBY is that customers will be able to manage their order from their own ‘dashboard’ if they wish. This means that you can:

  • add multiple additional items to your box on a one off or weekly basis, e.g. eggs, potatoes, fruit box, tin of tomatoes etc.
  • pause your box whilst you go on holiday
  • have the option of donating your box to the Denbigh Community Fridge when you pause your box
  • order a bespoke box from the items available – a minimum order value will apply here along with a delivery charge
  • request omissions from the box. e.g no onions or potatoes etc.
  • get transparent pricing and invoicing. Because the delivery and box contents system is linked, customers will always know what you account balance is.

All invoicing is retrospective and done by saved credit/debit card through Windcave. If you add extras or pause your box you will be invoiced or not invoiced accordingly, without you having to email us! Whoop whoop.

What is the downside of OOOOBY?

The big downside is change and the transition. I have been working on this for about 4 months, trying to manage the transition and make it as seamless as possible. Nobody really likes change, and maintaining the status quo is often the easier option at the time!

Change of Internal processes

The way we currently work is that for each round we know there are a certain number of boxes with a few minor ‘modified boxes’. We pack each size box as a batch… so all the potates, then all the carrots etc. We then pack up all the additions and modifications/swaps. Once all the boxes and modifications are packed we then load the van in the reverse order. Additional items are remebered as the box is loaded. Anything left over on the table is a mistake and needs to be taken on the delivery round in the cab. This is known as batch processing.

The new process will be a linear process where each box has its own label of what is in it. Once packed, the box is stacked on a pallet in the right order ready for loading on to the van. This linear process is the process that all big box schemes use because it is much more flexible and is apparently quicker. We shall soon find out!

Transition challenge.

Just to give you an idea of what we’ve been trying to work through – as of February 2024….

  • We have 5 customers that pay cash weekly
  • we have 20 customers that pay weekly
  • we have 9 customers that pay bi weekly
  • we have 32 customers that pay monthly
  • we have 38 customers that pay 4 weekly of which 4 are using Woocommerce

There are no consistent dates and some pay in advance (most) and some pay in arrears. We have customers with credits and some who are in debit. Nearly every customer will be part way through their payment cycle on the date that we switch.

Within OOOOBY it is possible for us to transfer credit and debit balances, so that on the ‘go-live date’ we will be running only one system. However, we are concerned that any historical mistakes (minimal) or discrepancies (possible) will be compounded if mistakes are made in the transition.

To transition our vegbox software to OOOOBY we have decided to draw a line in the sand. We will start everyone on OOOOBY with a nil balance. We will manage all of the existing credits and debits through our original system of Spreadsheet and Xero.

How And When will the transition take place?

On the designated date (29th Feb is the plan) we will upload every customer into the new system with all preferences and delivery round set up in place. Customers will receive two emails from us –

  1. Telling you that you can access your OOOOBY account, and how to do that. This will contain IMPORTANT INFORMATION about setting up your direct debit. You will need to do this within 2 weeks to continue getting your box. Those that wish to continue paying cash will be able to do so.
  2. Your statement balance as at 29th February. This will be from our accounting software Xero and will detail how to settle payment or receive your refund (the other option will be to transfer the agreed balance to OOOOBY so you can use it there to add items to your box).

We’re really hoping that this will be a positive step for the business and one that will give us a really strong foundation for the future. Many thanks for the ongoing support and please let us know if you have any questions.