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What if you could get food safely, save jobs, support local businesses and feed our most vulnerable?

March 24, 2020

In the midst of this pandemic, imagine you could safely buy groceries without leaving your house, pay electronically, keep local people in jobs, keep local businesses trading and feed poor and vulnerable people in Derry – all at the same time. Would you use that service?

If you have tried to shop online at the ‘big supermarkets’ recently you’ll know it’s basically impossible. Their order systems, can’t cope. Many of us are going to our local shops instead, but even getting our ‘odds and ends’ in person is now a risk.

As worrying as all this seems, the solution is also an opportunity.

The money we spend in the ‘big supermarkets’ leaves Derry forever. Some pays wages, but the majority of their huge profits leave the city never to return. What if we could keep some of that money in the local economy at a time when we need it most?

The technology and infrastructure to do online delivery already exists. There are local companies with online delivery apps, but they currently have limited support from local traders. We’d need to add more shops, butchers and food vendors (etc) to their books. Then their delivery network would need super-sized (sorry) – and finally we’d need to somehow integrate support for The Foyle Foodbank.

Thankfully most of this work is already underway!

Last week I asked three local ‘delivery app’ companies to work with local taxi companies, so that some drivers could continue to work during this crisis. I also asked them if they would build a donation option for The Foyle Food Bank into their apps, so the Derry public can support our neighbours in need. All agreed – and one app (IWantFed) have already implemented this!

The ball is rolling… (who deliver a bit of everything) already are working on a partnership with City Cabs and are offering traders a free signup. We’re furthest along with them at the moment – but this opportunity, if viable(?), would be open to all. It will require a total community-wide response to meet demand and keep people safely at home. We’ll need everyone working together!

Anita.Delivery, a great new startup who specialise in deliveries from shops, are in talks with Foyle Taxis to help scale their network. They’ve a great product that just needs some support. Finally, MyFood.Delivery, who specialise takeaways and off-sales, are provisionally onboard, with more details to follow. I’ll be speaking to them again today.

If things continue like they currently are (or get worse), we are going to need a viable alternative to online deliveries from the big supermarkets. One that relies on our local traders to keep us topped with essentials and keeps us fed, but without leaving home – or cash changing hands.

Many traders are already offering telephone delivery services of course. We don’t want to interfere with, or replace those. But there will always be a huge market for people (like me) who prefer technology-based, contactless solutions. This is just another sales channel to help reach those people too!

First, we’ll need your help!

We need you to tell us what shops, butchers, pharmacies, restaurants etc, you would love to see doing online delivery? Feel free to tag them (back on the Facebook thread) and let them know. With this solution, customers could continue to support the local businesses they love, shops could partner with whichever supplier they prefer, drivers can continue to work, the Foodbank will get vital support – and (of course) we’ll safely get our groceries delivered.

Even if you just used it for the occasional top-up shop, it would make a big impact. It’s a win/win all around.

Register Interest

If you are a local business person trading through this crisis (shop, butcher, pharmacy, off-sales, takeaway, restaurant etc), and you are looking for an online delivery solution with citywide marketing support, fill out the form below and we’ll pair you up with the right supplier.

If you are a member of the public, download all three apps, use them keep tabs on them and of course, support the Food Bank on occasions you can. We’ll also keep you updated on social media when new shops come online.

An idea worth pursuing?

If it is, I will happily help support it’s marketing here, on Pure Derry and via the LAB Fund in the months ahead. I don’t want anything in return. I just want to be able to order groceries like everyone else – with peace of mind. (If I can help put bread on others table too, even better!)

If not, no worries. I thought it best to have a decent plan ready than be looking for one at the last minute.