Find a slot, no matter what!
The problem we try to solve
After the lockdown imposed in many European countries due to the COVID-19 crisis, doing groceries became one of the few activities that citizens were allowed to do out of their homes.
In the beginning, people went out massively to stockpile essential goods in an effort to delay the next grocery shopping. Crowded supermarkets turned the so-called “social distancing” into a challenge and became a potential focus of exposure to the virus. In this context, online delivery seems the best alternative to avoid shopping physically. However, the huge increase in the demand plus the limited capacity of companies to deal with it has resulted in restricted availability of time slots or even the complete lack of them.
Many supermarkets only allow the customer to check the delivery slots availability at the end of the online purchase, which could lead to situations where the next slot is too late or even a complete absence of available slots. On top of that, each website only contains information about a given supermarket, pushing the customer to search for several different websites in order to find a convenient slot. The tiredness caused by the process can drive the consumer to dropout and decide to go physically to the store.
Therefore, the problem we want to tackle is how to make the process of doing groceries online easily. We thought a possible solution would be showing them every available slot around their area, avoiding going physically to the shop.
The solution we bring to the table
According to an online survey we have carried-out during the weekend, with a sample of 204 respondents from all over Europe, despite 86.9% of those consumers who have ever been in charge of doing groceries at home go usually to the physical stores, 37.7% of them have tried to do it online. Among the ones who have tried to order online delivery (n = 79), 63.4% have had problems to finish the process.
The main difficulties people found were: “There was no delivery times (slots) available” (62.1%) and “The waiting time for the shipping was not adequate for my needs” (39.7%), with 2.81 out of 5 of average satisfaction with the process.
Find a Slot simplifies the online shopping process for consumers by showing all the possible shops with available slots around their place, boosting this way of shopping rather than going to the actual supermarket. Additionally, Find a Slot offers a platform for SMEs to advertise online deliveries without the hustle of building their own website, as they can open a slot for people around their area to book and then handle the purchasing process through other channels such as phone or email.
Find a Slot offers a delivery slot search platform for every supermarket and grocery store, where the user can choose where to shop based on the delivery availability instead of having to decide the store first and then having to adjust to its delivery slots if any.
Find a Slot also offers a back office for grocery stores that do not own a website to introduce their delivery availability helping them to maintain their business running even while lockdown is enforced.
In the survey, we also have tested our idea among those who are familiarized with online purchasing (n = 79), obtaining that 91.8% would find pretty useful a platform like the one we propose (7 or more in a scale from 0 to 10).
What we have done during the weekend
- Project design, coordination
- The main website for the final user to do the search.
- A back-office for the retailers to insert their delivery slots.
- A public API with a database where we store all the data.
- (Future work) A robot that takes slots availability from supermarkets with an open API.
- A survey in order to explore the impact of the problem and possible acceptance of the tool.
- Pitch-video design and creation
The solution's impact on the crisis
- People need to eat food & have to stay at home
- Going to the supermarket is dangerous
- A feasible alternative is to do groceries online.
- Every supermarket has its own platform.
- The process of finding a free delivery slot is not easy.
- A place to gather every supermarket free delivery slot available in your area reduces the task of cognitive tiredness.
- The user using that platform will decide making online shopping with delivery service instead of going physically to the shop.
- And filling that gap, find a slot came up.
The necessities in order to move forward with Find a Slot
Find a Slot can be fully developed within days and ready for massive use within weeks. It can be trialed during the remaining time of this crisis and continue its improvement during non-pandemic times. Its use is not only restricted to pandemic scenarios, but it is also useful for any individual that has difficulties in doing their groceries due to disabilities or lack of free time in supermarket opening hours.
The remaining work can be summarised in:
- Onboarding all big supermarket chains to be able to access their APIs.
- Onboarding SMEs, either directly or through City Council's directories.
- Design improvements.
- Create a CRM to manage clients and potential revenue
The value of our solution after the crisis
Governments are working to predict scenarios on how the pandemic will continue its development as life goes slowly back to normal. Most of these scenarios call for reducing the range of activities where people cannot keep the social distance to the point that declaring a second lockdown if COVID-19 spread starts growing again, is not off the table.
Find a Slot prevents supermarkets from becoming hot spots of the virus in the following times to the end of the crisis as shopping online is made easier, increasing the chances of consumers opting for it. Also, Find a Slot can itself be useful in a non-pandemic scenario, as it provides companies a platform to reach online shopping clients and pushes big supermarket chains to reinforce their delivery systems.
We strongly believe Find a Slot is a necessary tool to encourage people to avoid going out which, at the same time, gives an opportunity to small businesses to compete with big supermarket chains.