Inspiration

A regular visit to the grocery store in these trying and troubling times involves boring, stressful, and panic-ridden queues. Moreover, despite enduring this ordeal, many customers are left bereft of essentials. We want to solve these problems!

What it does

We have created a virtual queue to help people step out of their homes in an organized and coordinated way. This will help solve the problem of overcrowding of people at “hot-spots” such as supermarkets. In the process, we also help alleviate problems such as hoarding and unemployment.

Our main idea is to have a (map-based) listing of nearby stores on our web based app, where people can buy what they please. If the option of home delivery exists, they may very well avail it. Understanding that this is not always possible, we then introduce the idea of a virtual queue. The idea is to associate a QR code to each order which defines for you a (15 minute) time-frame within which you may visit the store and collect your placed order. By clearly demarcating times, we avoid overcrowding. By placing suitable limitations on how much can be bought via the app, we are able to discourage hoarding and also provide incentives for sensitive age groups such as senior citizens. We believe that this app is a step in the right direction for a safer and stress-free shopping experience!

Important features

  1. We partner up with currently out of job drivers to aid in the home delivery process.
  2. The model can be extended from supermarkets to other kinds of stores and government food depots making it accessible to a larger audience.

The Delivery and Grocery Pick-up Setup

Grocery Pick-up: After the customer places the order and if they choose the non-delivery (i.e. personal grocery pick-up) option, they will be shown multiple available time slots, and the customer has to pick one. These 15 minute time slots correspond to when the customer can go to the store and pick up their groceries. By having an upper bound on how many people can choose a particular time slot, which in turn dictates the maximum number of people which can simultaneously be inside the store, we are able to ensure that the stores are not crowded. A key point to note is that no time is wasted by the customers as they don’t have to wait in long lines outside the store waiting for their turn. As our model is to coexist with non-app (i.e. offline) customers, we would like to partner with stores to have some number of customers inside the store to be via the app — as an example, if the capacity for Store X is 20 people at a time, we could perhaps arrange for 5 slots to be of those who are coming in through the app.

Along with this basic idea, we would also like to introduce the concept of Grocery Pals. Each user, say Emily can enter the names and details of a few of her friends who she feels comfortable picking up groceries for and vice versa. Say Amy is Emily’s grocery pal, and has placed an order and booked a pick-up slot for 5:00-5:15PM. Then, if and when Emily places an order and is selecting pick-up slots, the app will show that Amy has chosen that slot and that she can select it if she wishes and that one of them can potentially bring back the groceries for both individuals. This simple carpool-like idea further decreases how many people step out of their homes.

The Delivery Model: We will explain this via an example. Say we have 3 possible delivery slots — 10AM to 2PM (morning slot), 2PM to 6PM (evening slot), and 6PM to 10PM (night slot) on any given day. We will accept orders for the morning slot till 8AM of that day, for the evening slot till 12 noon on that day, and so on. The idea being that we would like a minimum of 2 hours for the stores to pack the orders, arrange for the requisite drivers required for delivery, and optimize the delivery route. This is a simple solution with potential to become more refined with time. We encourage you to look at the attached delivery timeline image below to get a better idea.

We also suggest looking at the How it Helps slide below which highlights how we address the issues of hoarding, overcrowding, and unemployment.

What's next for Quarantine Cart

The app aims to have coordination among the users. Therefore, the more people who are on it, the more effective it will be adding order and synchronization within our society. While we polish and generalize the app, we would also like to tie up with grocery stores, cab drivers to take this ahead. We would also like the involvement of state and central governments to facilitate and possibly incentivize the usage of the app so as to maximize the number of users. Moreover, we would also like to go beyond supermarkets and extend to other types of stores and government food depots. These are general ideas which transcend the pandemic and are applicable post COVID-19 as well!

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