On 24 March 2020, Shri Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India ordered a nationwide lockdown for 21 days, limiting movement of the entire 1.3 billion population of India as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 pandemic in India. All businesses, except those selling essentials were shut down. Even the later could function only under limited hours during a day, and had to follow strict social distancing to prevent further spread of the virus.
Now even after more than 4 months, these small businesses are still reeling from the impact. The virus is still prevalent throughout the country, and businesses are struggling under its effects. Due to India's high population density, it's an incredibly difficult task for them to maintain social distancing at their stores.
Meanwhile, giants such as Zomato and Swiggy have ramped up their services during the lockdown are now also providing home deliveries for grocery items, which has put small scale grocery shops at an even more disadvantageous position. COVID19 is here for to stay, at least for a couple of years. And if this same pattern continues, these small businesses will soon run out of fuel, which will be a great blow to the economy.
Grocer's Point is an app-based e-commerce platform where Users can view and shop from their neighborhood groceries via digital means. This way, they can keep purchasing from the Shops they previously used to, only through a digital platform for a more comfortable and safer experience.
Easy and Secure Registration
Users can sign up instantly using their Phone Numbers, and have to just provide their name and address, before they can start shopping.
If a Shopkeeper wants to add their Shop on our platform, they have to provide us with all details of their Shop, including clear pictures, location, registration papers. Upon verification from our side, his shop will be approved and visible on our System.
The Notebook System
The Groceries in India contain a vast array of Items, some branded and others unbranded. And every shop differs from the other in both size and actual content of their Inventory, which makes it very difficult to manage a unified Inventory System.
For that purpose, we're providing a Notebook System for taking Orders.In the old days, households would write down their necessities on a list of paper and pass it to the Shopkeeper, who'd get them the items. We're following the same approach here with a modern take. While placing an order, the customer provides a list of items he wants to purchase, which then is sent to the Shopkeeper for review.
Price, Item Availability and Time Slots
Upon receiving an order, the Shopkeeper will go through the list of items and add the price for each. If an item is not available, he can just strike it off the list and the Customer won't be charged for it. Then, he has to add a Time Slot for when the Customer can come and pick up his order from the store. Doing so ensures that the crowd is always at a manageable level and social distancing can be maintained.
- Flutter - The skeleton of the project. We used Google's New Framework for creating our Cross-Platform Mobile Application.
- Firebase - We use Firebase, a BaaS (Backend as a Service) as our backend as it provides many features such as Phone Authentication, Cloud Storage, no-SQL Database and Cloud Messaging out-of-the-box that we required in this project
Challenges I ran into
The biggest challenge for me was User Validation. I began the Ideation phase for this project back in April, when the whole country was in Lockdown. Due to which it was difficult to get hold of Grocery Shop Owners for their input and feedback on the current iteration of the Application. Once the Lockdown restrictions eased down, I talked with many of them, discussing what problems they are facing due to the Pandemic, and brainstorming possible solutions to them.
What I learned
I already had tons of prior experience build Mobile Applications. But I also had to write Cloud Functions for using notifications in the Application, for which I used NodeJS. I had limited proficiency and experience with it, and I had to look up a couple of tutorials to get it working properly. But it was a very fun learning experience.
What's next for Grocer's Point
Currently we're improving the UI of the Application and integrating Payment Gateways. After which, we'll be distributing our Apps among the Grocery Shop owners of Chandrashekharpur area of Bhubaneshwar for a beta testing session.