With the modern political and social climate, distance has become a part of our everyday lives. We came into this hackathon striving for a way to not only better the lives of those who are stuck indoors all day but also those of who run businesses and are suffering due to the dry spell of serving customers. We ultimately ended up focusing our efforts in a way to limit interaction between store employees and customers to help in the fight against COVID-19 while also empowering customers to support local businesses. We identified that the biggest interaction between employees and customers is the checkout at the end of shopping. We decided to reduce that interaction by allowing the customer to have the POS system normally integrated within a cash register, integrated into their phone. Likewise, this is applied to three major domains: food/eateries, grocery stores and retail. Besides grocery stores there are a plethora of different business types affected by the pandemic; therefore, we made it our goal to span to as wide of an audience as possible and help as many people as we possibly could. Besides checkout, our app can be utilized on everything from grocery store pre-orders and contactless deliver to even restaurant curbside delivery and retail shopping. We realized the convenience of your phone's presence and the combination of a POS system is nothing short of extremely powerful and can help both consumers and business owners alike. For consumers, it provides hassle free shopping trips, ease of use, faster checkout times, and, most importantly, a safer experience. On the merchant end, it allows for business promotion and new ways to allow customers to support them through such difficult times such as reducing labor costs and allowing for a completely "contactless" shopping experience.
What it does
With Pokt, we try to integrate online and brick and mortar retail by bringing the power of POS to your pocket. Pokt is an all-in-one payment portal that allows users to make checkouts, reservations, preorder and any other form of sale you can think of with nothing but your phone.
For example, our primary use case was targeted for the grocery store. With our app, we allow the user to simply scan the items they add to their cart with their phone and keep a "virtual cart" on hand at all times. At the end of their trip, they simply verify with an employee that their cart is indeed non-fraudulent and simply complete the payment through their phone. This avoids all forms of human interaction and only involves the employee verifying the customer's cart to ensure that they did not steal anything (this is of course optional and up to the merchant).
With our app, there is very little infrastructure the merchant has to take care of on their end. While shopping in a store, users can scan barcodes and the product will automatically be added to their cart which can then be checked out. Likewise, users can use the product to preorder groceries, order takeout or curbside delivery from eateries or even do distanced dine in where waiter and consumer interact through a shared portal/cart.
How we built it
The core app is built on Flutter and Dart with a backend of NCR and Firebase. We knew none of this coming in, so it was not very hassle free :)
Challenges we ran into
Like mentioned before, we had never worked with these frameworks before and had ZERO experience in app development. Likewise, the scope of the project was extremely large and ended up pushing us to our limits.
One of the other biggest things was the lack of a true "hackathon climate." Although we still had a great time and were extremely productive, I do believe that we would have been much more motivated if we were in Klaus.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
It works! Besides that, we are extremely happy that we came out of the hackathon as better developers than when we went in. It was extremely satisfying to dive into the deep end of such a powerful framework with literally zero knowledge. To go from cramming YouTube tutorials to making a near-market worthy product in 36 hours is nothing short of exhilarating.
The biggest thing we're proud of is that we built a product that betters the lives of others. In previous hackathons, we strived to build really cool applications but never really had a target audience in mind. In this one, we came in striving to help as many people as we can and we are extremely satisfied that we were able to build a platform that has the possibility of doing so!
What we learned
Literally everything. Nothing was familiar in this hackathon, but that's what hackathons are about! We did not know flutter. We did not know Dart. We didn't know how NCR's API worked. We barely used firebase before. It was all new, but that's what made it fun! Very frustrating... but fun :)
What's next for Pokt
The possibilities of Pokt and its future are almost endless. A shortlist of key elements we wanted to add before the deadline include:
- yelp integration for restaurant and store recommendations
- deals and promotion search across multiple stores and eateries so that the user can find the best deal for. what they're looking for
- geo fencing technology so that the app automatically detects if the user has entered a Pokt supported merchant
- the aforementioned geo fencing technology would have also been able to provide routes of customers to the merchant and allowed them to analyze density hot-zones in their stores/shops. This would allow for better organization of their product with little to no investment!
- Sharing carts between users was a big one but we unfortunately did not get to it. For example, we wanted users like roommates and families to create a shared cart and be able to buy products.
- Recommendation systems are also a viable avenue. Based on your "Pokt history," we could recommend similar eateries and stores that match your behavior. This would be similar to a "people who bough this also bought __" model.