What Inspired us?
We are a diverse team from all over Europe and everyone of us enjoys going to local stores to buy regional products, support the shop owners we have known since our childhood and who are like family to us. The corona virus puts an extreme burden on these small and local businesses. Many shops have to close. No sales are generated. Businesses go bankrupt. Many employees lose their jobs. The thought alone breaks our hearts. We couldn’t let this happen! When we came together as a team, and thought about a solution we realized that whilst many products could be sold online, a lot of the owners don't know how to do that or can't afford the fees of existing marketplaces (e.g. Amazon). At the same time people are stuck at home and are looking for exactly those products online. So we had to find a solution that makes it as easy as possible for shops to enter the digital world and connect them with customers who want to support their favourite local businesses. After long deliberation and intensive exchange of ideas we came to the solution: Covexit.
Covexit is an online marketplace that enables small local shops to offer their products easily online. At the same time, customers get the shopping experience they are used to directly in their living rooms. They can explore shops in their area on an interactive map and purchase their desired products directly via the platform. Stores that had to close generate sales again and customers can support their favorite shops.
How does it work?
In the MVP (Minimum Viable Product):
Stores simply register on our web app. Each shop gets its own page within the marketplace, where it can present itself and offer its products. These can then be purchased directly by the customer via PayPal. Covexit guides the business through the entire process. This should make it as easy as possible for the business to make the step into the digital world. For this purpose we also use AI to make the product upload process as lean as possible. Moreover, the company can make its products available for pick-up or deliver the products itself/request additional help from the parcel delivery service DHL.
The customer, on the other hand, can buy the products of his choice directly via the app. He can explore the shops in his vicinity with the help of an interactive map and find dealers or products directly via the search bar.
In later versions:
Additional payment options: We are aware that many users of our target group are used to pay with means of payment like Visa- and Mastercard, bank transfer etc. We are already in contact with various payment providers to implement these as soon as possible.
Support with delivery by Covexit: As an integrated digital solution, it is our priority to support the businesses in the best possible way - also during the delivery process. For this reason, we are in close contact with other groups of the Hackathon which are working on new delivery concepts such as taxi delivery services, bicycle couriers etc. As many of our members have great know-how in the area of Operations Research, we would like to use this knowledge to already suggest efficient routes for delivery to the shops and drivers.
Inventory Management: Many shops do not yet use an ERP system and have no overview of how many products they sell, have in stock, etc. With the help of Covexit they have the possibility to track their product stock and see how much they sell in which time period. This saves costs and increases the profit. It also enables the shops to better estimate demand.
Internationalization: We launch our platform in Germany. However, we are working hard to make our solution accessible to other European countries. Our website is already available in German and English. Once we have successfully established the platform in Germany, we plan to roll it out in Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Austria. Here, our team is particularly well informed about the market structures and general conditions, which will make it much easier to get started.
1000 more ideas: We have many many many more ideas in our heads. So stay tuned!
For the techies:
Django for the backend https://github.com/django/django
Django Oscar for the backend https://github.com/django-oscar/django-oscar, this takes over a big part of the database structure for us and allows us to create products, shops, categories, etc.
Django Oscar API for the backend https://github.com/django-oscar/django-oscar-api with which we provide an interface for the frontend in the backend so we are not too dependent on the backend itself.
So in connection with this also Django Rest Framework https://www.django-rest-framework.org/
React in the frontend https://reactjs.org/ which allows us to easily track and react to state changes (the user clicked this button, the user is now logged in, etc) and allows easy page transitions. Keyword Single Page App
https://www.npmjs.com/package/@react-google-maps/api and, in general, the Google Maps API for the map display and the transfer of business data when registering a business
Who should use Covexit?
Covexit is mainly aimed at small businesses that do not yet have their own online shop and that are currently not generating any sales. In addition, Covexit also offers companies that already have an online shop a great added value so that all local shops can benefit from the Covexit offer.
On the other hand, customers who want to support local shops or customers who simply want to explore shops in their area are particularly attracted by the offer. Covexit is therefore the perfect solution for every consumer who wants to help small shops to secure their existence.
Why should companies use Covexit:
Covexit offers companies a very simple way to offer their products online. Thus they generate sales again and consequently survive the corona crisis. This also saves many employees from losing their jobs. But the platform offers much more advantages than just uploading products. Covexit supports businesses in inventory management, delivery process and marketing. Covexit thus helps the shops to be prepared for a digital future. In addition, the companies benefit from the platform's wide reach, so that they can acquire new customers in addition to their regular customers. Even after the Corona crisis, Covexit still offers companies great added value, as online shopping becomes increasingly important. Especially younger people are shopping less and less in local stores. Covexit thus helps them to secure their long-term existence.
Why should customers use Covexit:
The Corona crisis in particular has increased the awareness of many consumers that local shops need their support and thus also the willingness to buy local products. Covexit offers them the perfect opportunity to do this. In addition, customers can easily explore the treasures of their city. Covexit is fully focused on functionality. Through its clear layout and logical structure, it is made as easy as possible for the customer to support and get to know shops in their vicinity. Thanks to the direct product search, consumers can quickly find the products of their choice and thus purchase them easily through the platform.
What's the Impact of Covexit?
Covexit’s solution concept can be implemented regionally, nationally and internationally, so people all over the world benefit from the solution. In total, thousands of businesses will be saved from insolvency and millions of jobs will be secured. Just a short example:
There are over 340,000 retailers in Germany. In Karlsruhe alone:
- 537 clothing stores
- 274 Furniture and furnishing stores
- 70 bookshops
- 232 Jewellers
All these small businesses are affected by the crisis and fear for their existence. Millions of jobs in Germany alone depend on it... and worldwide there are many more!
Currently only about 30% of all small and medium sized German companies own an online shop and more than half of all German companies do not sell online at all. In other countries these figures are even more significant. It is crucial to close this gap so that our beloved shops next door can survive in the future.
Our sustainable concept is also applicable after the Corona crisis and helps businesses to adapt to the current developments in our society. Covexit offers a easy to use platform with full support of their team for registration and on-boarding. The stores continue to sell while we take care of building their online presence and expand their market share. By taking out from their hands all e-commerce worries we reduce their costs, increase their revenue and prepare them for digital future.
What did we achieve during the Hackathon?
We made all the necessary preparations in order to start our testing phase with our platform after the Hackathon.
On the strategy level:
First of all we identified and evaluated our main competitors on the market. Moreover, we defined our main targets and positioned them accordingly. In a next step we acknowledged the current impact of COVID19 on the economic development of the German market and the impact on our main targets. Our research was held both qualitatively and quantitatively. Additionally we identified and challenged potential objectives and obstacles of our targets.
On the implementation level:
Bringing shops to our platform (sellers) - B2B strategy:
In order to convince companies to join our platform we first had to define the clear added value of our solution and align it with our core values, vision and mission. We also developed a strategy to increase our credibility on the market. Next we defined a sales approach, prepared drafts of “cold-mailing” and started to strategically approaching our prospects as well as possible contributors through different channels which were agreed on strategic level. Further activities on the B2B level were: implementing our provisional CRM system, taking part in networking as well as identifying key events which can be used for our PR.
Bringing Users to our platform (purchasers) - B2C strategy:
First, we clearly defined our customers and tried to evaluate our customer journey using our platform. Afterwards we created the main messages we want to deliver to our audience and ensured that they are aligned with our core values. We furthermore identified a relevant communication strategy for our audience and started applying it.
B2B and B2C:
In the beginning we defined our social media strategy. Having done this, we set up and implemented relevant social media channels on B2B & B2C level. Beyond that we prepared ready to use material and scheduled it for the upcoming weeks. Another achievement was the definition of our main KPIs to evaluate our social media strategy and be able to act and modify it if necessary. In general our marketing strategy is created in order to support actions and strategies on both long-term and short-term goals of Covexit.
We managed to dynamically show the stores on a map instead of using dummy data anymore. Now it is possible to dynamically show the store detail page with data from the backend. Also, some refinements of the menu have been according to the feedback of businesses and customers after testing with our click-through-dummy. Moreover, we added favicons for multiple media devices and added a modal for enlisting to a mailing list. Now customers can register into this list in order to receive a message as soon as our platform is launched. Thus, we have the possibility to stay directly in contact with the customers and keep them updated until then. Furthermore, we implemented geocoding from new store addresses to get their coordinates for the map. In addition, we were also able to implement the following points: product api so that products can be created from within the onboarding view, a feature to ask users for their permission to get their location and show it on the map. Last but not least all German parts were translated into English.
The next step is to focus on payment integration. We are already in contact with various payment providers for this purpose. In the meantime, further legal aspects regarding data protection, cookies etc. have to be clarified. We are also implementing our marketing strategy to get a large base of companies on the platform as quickly as possible and to arise the awareness of the customers. After these steps we are ready to launch our product. A short test phase in the German city of Karlsruhe is planned to uncover further problems. After that, a nationwide rollout will be carried out first, before we will expand the platform internationally in the coming months.
We are an international team of developers, marketing experts, designers and industrial engineers. Some of us already knew each other before the Hackathon, some of us made completely new friends. We had an incredible time during these days and we will do everything possible to help the local businesses with our solution as quickly as possible!