Welcome to ShopWhole!

We were brainstorming different potential technologies utilizing crowdsourcing when we realized that crowds have an inherent power that is often wasted. Therefore, we came up with the idea of ShopWhole, a digital marketplace that would enable individual students to collectively purchase products at wholesale prices. We researched current wholesale platforms and found that there are a few that use groups to make joint wholesale purchases. However, they all use a variable price point, meaning that the price depends on the number of people who join and place an order. This is clearly not a practical model for the necessities we intend to sell to college students (e.g. ramen and other common goods). We developed an algorithm that studies consumer purchasing habits to predict how the price point affects the quantity purchased. Then, our algorithm will determine prices that we can lock in and be sure that on average, enough students will place orders for us to not lose money and to be able to continue to offer discounted prices. Using our algorithm, consumers have the satisfaction of a constant, affordable, wholesale price that is not dependent on other customers’ purchases.

As beginner-level programmers, we were challenged by the surprisingly technical tasks that were necessary to create a website while collaborating. This meant learning how to use unfamiliar tools, such as GitHub, Django, MySQL, and even command line, which seemed so intimidating just 2 days ago. In fact, roughly 25% of our hackathon period was spent googling “how to do X in Y” or troubleshooting with each other to even access the website on each of our personal computers. The complexity of using Django (and Bootstrap CSS) showed us the deeper-than-it-looks nature of established web development tools and frameworks. We learned that using these building blocks eliminates a lot of the grunt work of web design, but that trying to make fundamental changes to these templates leads to a mess of errors if not done correctly. On a broader level, our team learned to utilize a combination of Zoom conversion and GitHub commands to pull and push updates cohesively, making us substantially stronger at collaborating on coding projects and on virtual projects in general. While we were unable to work out some minor kinks in our website formatting, we are extremely proud of our profit-optimization method-which we have evaluated with test data from Monte Carlo simulations-and the structure of our website that allows the easy maintenance of user accounts and catalog items.

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