Oxford Orders, a city first food and retail ordering network, has launched for the residents and businesses of Oxford in the UK.

Unlike traditional aggregators that focus solely on food order and delivery (such as Deliveroo, UberEats, or Just Eat), Oxford Orders provides a platform for all businesses that can benefit from pre-ordering, for example local florists, bakeries or even, butchers.

Powered by Preoday and managed by ForPOS, the platform forms part of a wider campaign, based on the ‘locavore’ movement, which aims to give power back to local companies and help them forge closer relationships with their customers. While many existing aggregator solutions, such as Just Eat, charge high fees and stand between businesses and their consumers, Oxford Orders does the opposite. Charging just £2 per month after a nominal set-up fee, it will actively encourage the fostering of relationships by giving businesses a direct way to reach local consumers.

Consumer psychology expert, Patrick Fagan, an Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths, explains the draw of the locavore movement:  “We consumers are all hardwired to prefer local businesses. In psychology, this is known as the proximity principle – we like people (and by extension, businesses) which are physically close by. It’s why we tend to make friends with our dorm-mates at university.”

Patrick explains: “We prefer nearby businesses for three reasons: ease, familiarity and similarity. Humans crave convenience, local businesses are easier to get to, theoretically they deliver quicker, and because they are seen frequently, they remain front-of-mind. The reason we trust things we find familiar is because our brains process them more easily; one study found that western participants prefer Chinese ideographs they have seen before, even if they don’t remember having seen them. Finally, we can’t help being drawn to those similar to us, it’s why we are more likely to lend somebody change if they are dressed similarly. The people of Oxford will gravitate towards platform like Oxford Orders that give to local businesses because they perceive them to be in line with their own attitudes and values.”

With over 400 restaurants in Oxford alone, alongside hundreds of other companies, the potential benefit for the local community is tremendous. The platform can be accessed via oxfordorders.co.uk and an accompanying mobile app is available from the Apple App store or Google Play. The app interface is simple and easy to use, with built-in GPS that can determine which businesses are near the user’s location.

Andrew White, CEO of Preoday, comments: “We want to provide a genuine alternative for local businesses to aggregators such as Just Eat. These national aggregators charge huge commission rates to the companies they partner with. These fees have the potential to push venues out of business, especially if commissions continue to rise. We are looking to connect local businesses with local residents, champion regional enterprise and help companies prosper. Oxford Orders will help local businesses take their first independent step with digital orders and, as they gain confidence, Preoday will be there to help them go even further. Although we are starting in Oxford, this local network concept is of great interest to other towns too.”

While Oxford Orders is intended as a valuable platform for businesses, it naturally benefits residents, giving them what they desire; convenience and efficiency, all important elements in the life of the modern consumer.

Roger Foran, owner of ForPOS added:  “So many people order their food and goods online, but they don’t need an Amazon, Just Eat or Deliveroo to do this. Most people’s favourite restaurants and stores are only a few miles away from their home, so a national aggregator is redundant to them. By using Oxford Orders, they’ll be helping their favourite businesses retain the money they spend, so the companies can continue to serve them well into the future.”

1855 Wine Bar Bistro is one of the first venues to sign up to Oxford Orders. Steve Plast, General Manager, comments: “The Oxford Orders offering naturally appealed to our business. The potential return on investment outweighs any of the alternatives, how could we not sign up? Lack of commission fees aside, a venue like ours has to appeal to a wide range of customers, and we know that an increasing number of people are using digital, mobile technologies to navigate and simplify their lives. Being on Oxford Orders puts us at the centre of the trend; when that audience turns to their mobile to arrange afternoon drinks or an evening out, we will be there, able to meet their needs.”

Map Chalmers, Marketing Manager at high-end Thai restaurant, The Old Tom also features on the platform: “A business like ours relies on local residents. With large chain restaurants cornering customer markets on a national scale, smaller, independent venues need to work extra hard to build the strong relationships that allow them to survive. Good customer service is essential, we know that if a person has a bad experience with a local venue, they won’t go back. Oxford Orders will provide a way to enhance customer service and appeal to those that want to order digitally, thereby solidifying our position in the community.”

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