While I enjoy food shopping, it has always seemed so inefficient. Lots of wasted space, time spent filling a cart and then unloading it, waiting for checkout, etc. Inspired by an Apple Store experience where shelf space is so much more efficient, I can select products and they're brought to me, and I can checkout in an app, I decided to build Geist.

What it does

Geist is a re-imagining of the in-store shopping experience. It solves many of the inefficiencies with current stores. With the Geist app, a customer scans QR codes to add items to their cart. They pay in the app and pick up bags with their items when they leave. Store shelves only need a single copy of each item on a shelf (instead of the 10-30 currently in most stores). Each item has a QR code next to it that identifies the item. Shelves don't need to be constantly re-stocked. Customers don't need to push carts around the store, or wait in lines. No checkout area is needed. The store space can be made much more efficient, allowing for more product variety and/or fewer square feet to service the same number of customers.

How we built it

I built an IOS app in Swift. It serves as the customer Geist app. It can load up a shopping list which adapts as items are added to the cart. The app uses the iPhone camera to scan QR codes in-app. Those codes identify a specific item. The user can learn more about the item, and add a quantity to their virtual cart. The app implements in-app payments, using either Apple Pay, or Square for other credit card payments. When a payment is made, the cart is sent so that the backroom can fill bags with the order. The customer gets a receipt with a pickup QR code that can be scanned to verify their order.

Challenges we ran into

A lot of the challenge was refining the concept into a working app. There were some technical challenges in getting the QR code scanning and generation working, but once solved, it was about getting all the pieces put together and working.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

I'm proud of how much I think the concept can benefit markets. The app works well and is easy to use.

What we learned

After a lot of conceptualization, I realized many of the inefficiencies in current market designs and operations.

What's next for Geist

There are a number of pieces of Geist that still need to be implemented. An app for the backroom pick and pack operation, and a more robust backend are both needed to more completely demonstrate the service. I also was to get feedback from existing markets to refine and improve the concept.

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