“digitalLisa” connects business owners and platforms by providing a single point of knowledge for the digitalization of small businesses. Many shop owners are currently struggling financially due to COVID-19, as they are forced to temporary close or get less customers. The main problem here is that the businesses only have one touchpoint with their customers: The shop itself. Before the pandemic this might have been sufficient but now there is a need for another channel. Of course we also take into account the phase afterwards, by providing guides for digital “COVID-19” measures, e.g. QR-Codes that help with tracking customers and counting current customers in the shop. These are in light of the current measures taking place in Germany, e.g. only a certain number of people allowed in the shop. Of course we will try to stay up to date with the measures each country takes and try to develop digital solutions that are easy to implement as fast as possible. “digitalLisa” is not only able to improve the economic situation of whole branches but also helps businesses to quickly respond to all the measures and guidelines.
What it does
Our project “digitalLisa” solves the major issue of small businesses, especially local shops, only having one touchpoint with their customers. This issue became more apparent during the Coronavirus crisis since most physical touchpoints disappeared due to health safety reasons and many small businesses noticed decreased sales. Businesses e.g. not having a Google My Business entry, or a Facebook page are often dismissed by potential customers due to small inconveniences, e.g. it is unclear if the business is currently open or not. This is fatal since this could easily be prevented since both are completely free to use and available on the internet. The missing link is the awareness of this issue and the required knowledge on how to create a Google My Business entry, a Facebook page, an Instagram page etc.
To solve this issue, we have developed a prototype of a virtual assistant called “digital Lisa” which guides business owners through a question-answer process in order to recommend suitable optimizations to their digital customer touchpoints. For e.g. “digital Lisa” could recommend creating a Google My Business entry and an Instagram page for a hairdressing shop owner. From here on the business owner has two options: Either let Lisa guide him through a tutorial to do it by himself or order a premium service package to let the “digital Lisa” team do it for him. Here we took the financial situation of the small business owners into account by keeping the price affordable. Premium services are divided into the specific platform pages the customer wants us to create. Creating a Facebook page would be one package and creating an Instagram page another. We let the customer decide what they want to let us create and we charge him accordingly. Even a maintenance subscription would be possible since some business owners do not want to spend time on such things. Besides the premium service we could get commissions through partnerships with platforms that we recommend to our users.
With “digital Lisa” we want to offer a knowledge sharing platform to empower small business owners by teaching them to digitize their business in order to stay in touch with their customers, even in times like the current Corona crisis. The internet is full of free to use platforms which allow business owners to reach out to the public and to communicate their current offerings. With “digitalLisa” we close the knowledge gap between small businesses and those powerful tools which are able to connect the world.
How we built it
We have created a website prototype using Visual Studio Code (incl. Live Share and GIT), Vue.js, Vuetify and Nuxt where you can find our general business offering and especially our digital virtual assistant Lisa. Currently our prototype only consists of a frontend with dummy functionality. The backend is not created and connected yet. We would probably choose Python to implement the backend for the virtual assistant or namely Lisa. Especially Natural Language Processing functionality and Machine Learning would be handy to increase the user experience with more targeted questions and answers.
Challenges we ran into
The biggest was to come up with a solid marketing strategy to reach all our potential customers. Our target audience is not reachable via online advertisements. We had to come up with ways to reach people that are not online.
What's next for Digital Care Package
The best thing about our project is that we already have all the resources necessary. Our team has all the competencies to finalize the website and already have a long term vision which we have divided up into phases:
1st Phase In this phase we will focus on finalizing the website and find our first customers locally. In this phase we will stay in close contact with our customers to find pain points and our best features. After this we will host another 2-day Workshop in which the team focuses on using the feedback we gathered to improve customer experience. Furthermore, we will work hard on adding new guides and improving the existing ones.
2nd Phase In this phase we will be implementing the changes and focus on bringing more and more content to the website. Here we will also roll out another big feature that we did not implement during the Hackathon due to time constraints: Being able to have an all-in-one guide for certain businesses, e.g. hairdressers or flower shops.
3rd Phase In this phase we focus on scaling our product EU-wide. We will begin to set our marketing strategy into action, which focuses on our target audience. in which we mainly focus on analog advertisements (e.g. postal) and rating high in basic questions in google our focus group is likely to search (Our team member Daniel specializes on improving the google ranking of businesses). Furthermore, we will begin the scalability of our business idea by hiring employees as contact for the customers and implement an interface to freelancing websites to be able to handle a bigger load of customers. To ensure quality we will have a very specific requirements document for the freelancers and have an employee for quality control.