Going for groceries is probably the most basic daily thing we do. But in times of crisis it's simply not safe. How can we make the shopping process with as little risk as possible? How can we support small groceries shops? How can we do shopping for someone? and while at the same time minimizing the interaction between people. That was the starting point.

What it does

"Out of the Box" is a web-app that allows shop owners to offer pre-packed boxes of groceries that can be ordered online and picked up at a chosen time, resulting in minimal exposure to others, less queuing, less stress and less panic buying. After a login, users can browse the offerings of nearby shops or search for boxes containing specific items. Placed orders have to be approved by the shops or rejected if items are out of stock or the order exceeds normal household quantities. We planned the option to pay boxes with PayPal to minimize exposure to cash and cashiers further. A custom QR code has to be scanned by a shop assistant before the order can be picked up. It is also possible to send the code to someone and ask him to pick the chosen box for you.

How we built it

The international team of 2 backend developers, 2 frontend developers, 2 designers and illustrator made a working prototype of the Out of the Box service. The first day we spent working on the concept and planning parts of the prototype. On Saturday we started with the implementation, illustrations and designs. On sunday we put everything together into a video, finished the prototype and did a lot of bug fixes. During the day we met all together to reevaluate multiple times while we organized in organic small groups of 1-3 in between.

Challenges we ran into

48h are quite a tight timeframe to deliver a working prototype from scratch. It’s very hard to decide which features to include in the prototype, which features will stay in the concept and which ideas to drop. As we were a new team, internal organization was also very challenging. Being part of such a big event felt quite overwhelming but also really amazing. On the technical side our product is quite straightforward so except for the timeframe there weren’t too many issues on that front.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We brought the prototype to a state that shows how a finished app can look like. This worked especially well because we could find the right abstractions that made it possible to focus on the deliverables in this short time (like faking certain data to focus on the ordering process). We had people with different skills in the team which helped us to organise and spread the work, so everyone could focus on their ability.

What we learned

All of the participants learned something new, whether it was sketch libraries or screen capturing tools. But the most important is to know how the society can solidarise around a common problem.

What's next for Out of the Box

Our concept of saving time while doing grocery shopping is still beneficial after the current crisis has been overcome. Especially for those who hate going for groceries ;)

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