With the onset of the year 2020, came new opportunities and new problems. From Australian bushfires to almost reaching World War 3 we saw too much. And then came the world astonishing pandemic that has taken around 7 crore lives till now. The prevailing of new scenarios forced everybody to adapt to them by bringing major reforms and changes. But by taking bold steps like imposing lockdown, digitizing education by taking online classes came other new issues and I was concerned about them a lot. On one day, I got to know that one of my uncles was tested COVID positive during very early stages of COVID in India. And then we got to know that he used to run a ration shop which needed to be open as 'Essential Items' shops were instructed be open. This was one motivating factor. Another factor is that there is a grocery shop near my house of Mr. Sachin. So, I noticed that there used to be an unmanageable crowd everyday at his shop. And each customer had a wait time of well over 1 hour. Few of his customers were infected with COVID 19 and due to this other customers at his shop also got infected and some of the employees of the shop as well. This was proving to be a serious problem of Mr. Sachin. Then, I thought that during these times, due to highly contagious nature of COVID, we cannot afford to have crowds and queues. But shops need to open and not only shops but public offices, restaurants, salons, service units also. All of these centers have to run but without having crowds or queues. And during researching more on this I realized that this issue is a very major concern and some solution has to be find out for this otherwise performing every day tasks would be life-threatening tasks to perform. So, now I was firm on my problem and determined to find a solution to this. Therefore, let me propose the problem statement here first. The following problems have become widespread and highly dangerous due to the contagious nature of COVID19 with respect to shopping at grocery, vegetables, milk, medical stores and other essential units. 1. Excessively long queue lines with unlimited wait times. 2. Inefficient queue management system. 3. Violation of social distancing in queues making people vulnerable to being infected more and more. Such inefficient management and disobeying of social-distancing norms can lead to queues at stores to become COVID-19 Hotspots.
What it does
Then, I came to the final solution that is 'QEasy' - Queues made easy. QEasy is a mobile application through which we will form queues but VIRTUALLY. QEasy mobile application is a digital solution to drastically reduce lines at stores to allow efficient practising of social distancing. The app facilitates this by the concept of 'virtual queues‘ (A computerised system allows park visitors to secure their place in a “virtual queue” rather than waiting in a physical queue.) The app can be used to eradicate the crowds and physical waiting and also as a tool to maintain the social distance. The app will create a situation when there will be no customers in the queues and then, the probability of spreading the virus will be very less. The app works on the principle of using token codes and time allotments for customers. After signing in the app, the user could search for the shop he/she desires to go. After selecting the shop, he can enter the date and time when he wants to visit that shop. If that particular time slot would be available then the user could confirm his booking otherwise the app will ask to choose another time slot. While booking a slot, the customer can also add an order which would be sent to the shop along with the booking. After confirming the booking, the app will generate a token number. At the time of visit, the shop will first cross-verify the token number with the customer and then will allow him to enter. If there would be any order available then the customer could directly pick it and go. That’s how shopping and working can be made easy with QEasy. The reason why I chose this as my solution is :- 1. I applied the QBL principle which was best suited on this. 2. This solution is not only limited to shopping but every product and service providing unit. From boutiques, tailoring shops, dairy to government offices and banks. Everyone should adopt this app in order to eliminate long queues and crowds. 3. This solution is not only limited to the COVID era. One very important thing that we must consider is that the solution we present in the COVID era should also be scale-able during the NON-COVID era. So, this solution is built to scale. COVID will give the right platoform for this solution to launch and then it will flourish immensely. 4. Also, seeing on its advantages which were numerous, I became confident on this solution. Some of its advantages are: 1. From the Customers side: - They will save time(the most precious asset). - They will save energy and efforts - No waiting in queues - No more standing by in unbearable or extreme weathers - Contact-less and safe visits - Receive immediate assistance - Hassle free cancellation of appointments 2. From the shop's/business' side: - Attract and retain more customers through stress-free waiting experience - Build customer’s confidence to visit. -Customers stay safe so the stores stay open. -Know your customers who are waiting. -Stand out against competitors. -Increase your sales and productivity - Less requirement of floor space and workforce will be there. Thus, I can say that my idea is Quick-Impacted,Bold and Long-Lasting.
How I built it
My solution is a low-investment idea. Our first target was to create the product. We researched thoroughly on the technical aspects of the mobile app so as to create the most secure yet easy to use mobile app. Then, we first created the prototype of the mobile app, understanding the app flow thoroughly. And then we started to develop the mobile app on the software. The key point in our mind was to keep the best User Interface so the app is very easy to use. After the successful development of the app, we had 4-6 rounds of testing so as to ensure the smooth functioning of the app.Initially, we are focusing to make it operational in Delhi NCR and then scale it step by step. The app's implementation will unfold in three phases as per our plan. First Phase - We will focus on making it available to the shops and service provider units "nearby us". In the first phase, we will target 100 shops to adopt our solution. Second Phase - After the successful implementation of phase 1, we will first gain insights and improvise the app that we learned through phase 1. Keeping in mind to that, in the second phase we will aim to to make it operational in the other metro cities of India like Mumbai, Kolkata, Jaipur, Indore, Chennai etc. Third Phase - And after the successful implementation of phase 2, and again improvising our app we will expand our app globally during the phase 3.
What was the result or impact of your project? Till now, approximately 25 shops have successfully adopted our idea. And we are gaining their feedback on a regular basis. 1. Impact on Shopkeepers/Service Providers: The shopkeepers firmly agreed with the point that their productivity and sales have been affected by increment. They are now able to handle more customers and fruitfully utilise their time. The crowd there is limited and manageable as per their requirements. Shopkeepers were very satisfied with the experience. They also stated that they now require less workforce and also they are able to re-purpose their floor space. Most importantly, now due to less people at same point of time social distancing can be followed properly and therefore they assured that their customers are now more confident to visit.
Challenges I ran into
"A journey is never a journey without obstacles." Yes, we did face challenges in between implementing our idea. 1. The concept of the app was a little complex to code. We had to frame the logic ourselves in order to develop the main functioning of the app and it was very difficult. Being a school student we were not much aware of the concepts which should be inculcated. Nevertheless, we took help from the elders. My mother played a huge supporting role during the whole process. She helped me frame the correct logic and taught me various concepts. So, that's how we solved this challenge by actually learning. 2. Since, I am a school student that too of class 11, with the science stream , therefore, there is a lot of pressure of studies. Attending school, then coaching classes, and then taking out time for the thing which I like the most of developing a solution was getting more and more difficult for me. And eventually, neither I was able to study properly nor progress in the solution. Then, I realised that something has to be done. Therefore, I explored the Internet finding ways and techniques to my issues. And then I started to create deadlines for me. I chose a date, jotted down all the tasks I want complete till then and then did anything to complete it. This technique actually helped me to increase my productivity. 3. Also, my family had only one laptop. So, since my mother is a teacher she would require the laptop for taking online classes and for doing other work. That is why I was not able to get the laptop to work. So, I decided to work in the night to build a proper balance. So, in the days the laptop would remain with my mom and at nights it would remain with me so that I could work with peace. Working at night and then again waking up early in the morning to attend school classes was a tedious task for me but I still enjoyed the journey.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
There are a couple of accomplishments that I am proud of.
- With this I won the first runner-up position at Creo Entrepreneurship Competiiton.
- I won the second runner-up position at Mount Caramel School.
- I won the first runner-up position at Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan School. The award was presented to by NASSCOM company.
What I learned
The learning I get from a project is always immense. I literally learned a lot during the whole tenure of development of this product.
- I learnt how Queue and Crowd Management works. And while coding the whole app I learnt a lot new algorithms and logic that helped me creating the system.
- Also, I learnt time management organize my work and to be more productive.
- I learnt new concepts of UI/UX designs. I have tried to design the best ever GUI for my app and it is the best among all my other products.
What's next for QEasy
In order to sustain any project the most important key point to remember is to constantly improvise the app because there is always a scope of improvement. Changes with time help the product to adapt within any circumstance and these changes only build a strong foundation for a successful startup. 2. Therefore, we will keep introducing new features which would engage more and more consumers. Let me list some of my future features:- > Product Display - Displaying of all products for a more visual experience. > Collaboration with government offices and public sectors that would help expand the solution at an enormous scale. > Providing Customer Analytics powered by Artificial Intelligence. This feature would make us more than a queuing system. Now, with real-time and historical data available at fingertips, shops and businesses would be able to measure both customer satisfaction and staff performance.
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