During the first phase of the pandemic we saw shops close down and friends lose their businesses. A lot of the smaller establishments could not afford the fees charged by the established ordering apps. We decided that we would build a cost-effective solution that would help smaller businesses stay open and maintain footfall
What it does
In the simplest terms, watQ? connects a customer to a merchant by enabling the customer to view the merchant’s menu, place an order and deliver the order to the Merchant's Square POS.
The Merchant’s inventory in Square is synchronised in the middleware allowing us to generate a consistent user experience for the retail customer. The Middleware uses the Square APIs to synchronise data.
The mobile app interrogates the middleware and presents the shopping experience using the Merchants branding. watQ? enhances the Square capabilities by adding features like support for earliest delivery time and breaking down modifiers into categories. For example, when the order comes through to the POS, the merchant is notified whether the customer wants to remove, add or provide instructions.
How we built it
- We carried out User research on top ordering apps
- Used various ordering apps to get an idea of what works well and what doesn’t work very well. One of the key guiding principles was to keep the interface as basic as possible so that anyone could use it.
- Obtained advice and feedback from industry SMEs who provided input into features
- Created Wireframes and reviewed these with industry SMEs
- Defined requirements in the form of user stories in Jira.
- Designed a scalable solution consisting of a mobile app and a cloud-based middleware.
- We ran the development phase as an agile project with continuous testing.
- Once the solution was ready for beta testing, we got friends, family and SMEs. to test the solution for feedback.
Challenges we ran into
- Our biggest challenge was that we could not find a middleware that integrated to point of sale systems. Point of sale system providers did not return our calls or respond to our emails. Square has been an exception and the support (especially from Bryan) has been outstanding.
- UI design is a skill we are weak at and it was a big learning curve given the timescales.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
- We are proud of the fact that we’ve developed a cost-effective and scalable solution that can help businesses increase footfall while at the same time operating in a COVID safe manner.
- The middleware we’ve developed allows to extend the functionality transparently.
- We are proud of the solution and data structure we’ve designed which works not only for restaurants but can be extended to any retail outlets.
- We are proud of developing a solution in a very short time that fully integrates to the square POS.
What we learned
- In the creation of the solution, we’ve all had to learn new skills like UI design, video filming and editing, new programming languages and aspects of design.
- As a team we’ve learnt what our limitations were and we’ve learnt to work together.
- We have learnt how fast flutter is growing and in particular how many new components and libraries are added with every release.
What's next for watQ?
We have a set of features in the backlog that we want to implement for example:
- User Profile management
- Merchant Reviews
- Enhance user journey to discover merchants by location.
- Support for table service.
- Email notifications.
- Loyalty card functionality
- Promotions and upsell functionality.
Customer feedback and productionise the solution.
Approach merchants to use our solution.