A new loyalty app is readying itself to revolutionise Sheffield’s hospitality sector and retail sector and become the UK’s first commission-free delivery app.

The independent Sheffield-based developers plan to charge businesses who sign up zero per cent commission on both deliveries and click and collect orders, as well as offering free instant cash back rewards and special offers for users, and, if that wasn’t enough, it’s completely FREE for both businesses and users to sign up.

In the current climate of uncertainty and lockdown, now more than ever local cafes, bars and restaurants are having to think up increasingly ingenious ways to get by, including turning their operations into takeaways.

Through the first lockdown in 2020, many businesses found that delivery services became an essential way to keep serving customers, however the majority of delivery apps currently available reportedly take around 20 per cent – 35 per cent of each and every order, making them prohibitively expensive for many independents.

Thankfully, here in Sheffield a local independent app developer and hospitality operator has created iBe, the UK’s first commission free way for independents to deliver to customers, as well as serve them on premises, helping to ensure the Sheffield pound stays in Sheffield.

Due to launch on 28 October, the new loyalty app is offering an affordable solution that gives back to everyone. Both to customers, who can have confidence that their money is 100 per cent going back to their favourite indies, as well as at the same time receiving cash back on each order they make (whether in venue or delivery) and to businesses, by offering them free sign up during the app’s launch period, and no commission on orders.

iBe co-founder Matt Bigland explains: “Given the current state of the hospitality industry, we feel it is important that we all help each other out as fewer and fewer people come into venues due to the new tier system.

“Third party apps that charge 20 – 35 per cent are going to be the only ones winning. Exploiting a service that is desperately required to survive. We have proven that there is no need to charge that much when the whole sale cost for delivery is much lower.

“For example, a single £20 order through iBe would incur just £2 delivery fee (at cost) per delivery, meaning £18 would be kept by the business, whereas Deliveroo might take £7 commission on the same order, meaning your favourite indie only gets £13 of the total order value.”

It’s not all about the hospitality sector either, as iBe will also offer retail options for customers, that will be delivered by Stuart.com,who are part of the DPD family.

Matt said: “Our same day, within 40-miunute turn around, beats Amazon and other corporate giants. In the same time that it takes to get your favourite takeaway, you can also get yourself a brand new shirt.”

The app is also free for customers to sign up to and designers hope that the loyalty points and rewards will also help keep people away from the established delivery app platforms and keep 100 per cent of the order value in the independents pocket.

Beth Green, iBe head of sales, explains: “iBe also offers instant rewards to guests who will receive a whopping 10 per cent cashback on every purchase (£1 = 10 points), which can be used anywhere within the iBe network.

“Times are changing, and guests want to be personally and instantly recognised for their custom. Instant recognition and observing user habits is how iBe delivers that in this new way of offering loyalty. We feel it is so important to reward our guests online and offline, as now, more than ever, we appreciate their support, even when not physically possible in our venues.”

They also plan to enable voucher and deal promotions to be sold commission free – as opposed to the commission taken by voucher companies – meaning businesses can also experiment with different offers to different audiences, without being tied into contracts.

The transformative app has been in the pipeline for around for around 18 months and over that period has had to adjust, just like the businesses they are seeking to help, to the ever-changing landscape during the pandemic.

“It’s quite daunting to be honest,” says Matt, “launching an app and new business in the middle of a lockdown and global pandemic has been challenging to say the least! However, this app isn’t about a quick win, it’s been well thought out having gone into development 18 months ago.

“We’re from a hospitality background and we know from our pilot programme how it can benefit businesses in a hassle and risk-free way. Guests spend more on the app due to its ease, the images let you know exactly what you’re getting, and the loyalty points encourage guests to perhaps order more than what they usually would.

“As well as the loyalty enticing guests to try out new venues, it also keeps them coming back. It’s about being innovative, challenging expectations and creating a product that is a lifeline, not an added stress.”

The app plans to launch at the end of this month (28 October), and they are looking for businesses to sign up now. Due to the demands of the current climate, iBe is now offering this service to businesses for free until the end of the year, to help towards keeping the Sheffield economy flowing.