Background

Ecommerce has revolutionizeed the way the world shops. Over 80% of the online population have shopped online. At the rate e-commerce is growing, it's estimated that it will make up about 95% of all purchases within the next 2 decades.

Despite its success, however, e-commerce is still a very flawed industry. For one, it is completely dominated by big companies such as Amazon who controls 44% of the market. 46% of American small businesses do not even have a website, making it very difficult for them to enter e-commerce, much less compete with big companies. Additionally, delivery is extremely harmful to the environment due to excessive packaging and carbon emissions. E-commerce can also lead to higher prices because of shipping costs, making it difficult for people to partake in the online shopping experience.

We wanted to help bridge that gap for small businesses to enter into e-commerce, but also retain their values of serving local communities, so we created Massit - an e-commerce platform that supports small businesses, reduces environmental impact, and saves customers money.


What is Massit?

Massit is a brand new e-commerce experience that uses group buying and self-distribution to help communities buy goods at cheaper prices. Massit works like so:

1. Businesses are able to list items that they want to sell on the Massit website - no code or extensive set-up required.

Sell Item

2. Users are recommended items that they can bulk buy with people around their local area. These items can be picked up from a designated location, distributed by another member of the Massit community. As more users contribute to a bulk purchase, the cheaper the price per item gets.

Buy Recommendations

Host Recommendations

3. A designated host is shipped the entire bulk purchase and given the responsibility to distribute those items at a designated location. Users are incentivized to sign-up to be hosts via deals that businesses offer. A ranking system is also provided to ensure that the host distributes the items or gets kicked off the platform.


Accomplishments

With Massit, we were able to solve the main problems with e-commerce to create a more sustainable, ethical, and interactive online shopping experience.

Problem: Large e-commerce giants are able to ship in bulk, allowing them to reduce their prices below competitors. Solution: Small businesses can ship in bulk with Massit, allowing them to reduce the price of manufacturing and last-mile shipping (The most costly part of delivery).

Problem: E-commerce shipping and packaging is unsustainable, wasteful, and bad for the environment.
Solution: Massit's bulk shipments allow reduced packaging and reduced carbon consumption from the elimination of last-mile delivery.

Problem: Small businesses have to learn to set up an entire website to sell their goods.
Solution: Massit provides an easy and affordable platform for business owners to sell their goods to a wide audience. No code required.

Problem: E-commerce shopping is not interactive compared to brick-and-mortar shopping experiences.
Solution: Massit encourages and incentivizes community communication and meet-ups in order to successfully get large discounts.

Competitive Analysis A competitive analysis of Massit versus other popular e-commerce websites.


How We Built It

We utilized a wide variety of technologies in order to develop our full-stack web application.

For our backend, we utilized Django, Python, and SQL (In particular, SQLite). Four SQL tables were created in order to house all of our necessary data - a Users table, an Orders table, a Purchases table, and an Items table. We then developed algorithms for recommending users items to buy based on location and interests and algorithms for reducing cost based on the number of items ordered. Finally, the back-end team created a total of 10 routes to make all of the data accessible to the frontend.

For our frontend, our designer created low fidelity and high fidelity prototypes using Figma. Our front-end team then utilized React, less, and Ant Design in order to create webpages. The frontend was then hooked up to the backend using Axios to make requests, and React Context to pass information to components.

Tech Stack Some of the technologies we used.


Challenges We Ran Into

For this project, we decided to use Django, a framework which most of us were unfamiliar with. Typically, the majority of us use Node.js and JavaScript to create our backend applications. However, our team decided to go with Django and it ended up being a major learning experience. However, as with any new technology, we struggled with Django in many ways. In particular, it was difficult for us to create database models. We struggled to change the primary key in our SQL table, and had to find a different solution. Additionally, we also had difficulty deploying our application online, and ultimately resorted to using ngrok in order to get a solution working locally.

Challenges Django ended up being the technology we struggled with the most during this hackathon.


What We Learned

Our team is composed of both seasoned hackers (15+ hackathons attended) and new hackers. However, both parties were able to learn a lot from each other!

The newer hackers were introduced to a variety of technologies that we had never used before such as React, less, and Django. We had to go through multiple tutorials in order to learn how to develop software at a hackathon.

The advanced hackers had to learn how to properly communicate to both the new hackers and to each other, especially in a remote environment. We decided to start by writing a design doc, which is typically not done at a hackathon due to time constraints. We found that writing our design doc allowed us to more thoughtfully and carefully plan out our database and routes, allowing us to have a smoother time developing especially in a remote environment where communication is key.

Design Doc Beginning our hackathon with a design doc allowed us to implement our software in a more structured manner.


What's Next

The communities our team members come from have seen their share of financial needs from both businesses and consumers. We know first hand that every penny counts and that is why we developed Massit. In the future, we hope to expand Massit into a fully functional and reliable application that we can make available to local businesses in our community.

With Massit, we aim to help these businesses enter the ever-growing space of e-commerce in a way that is ethical, sustainable, and affordable. We want to save consumers and businesses money, all the while reducing carbon emissions and packaging waste. With Massit, we can have the best of all worlds while also connecting our communities together in new and exciting ways.

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