On one side, we see advertisements on buildings offering help for elderly people alongside youth communities working hand by hand with communes to bring groceries to the most vulnerable.
On the other side, we see crowded shops overwhelmed by an increased demand in parallel to empty shops constrained to reduce opening hours to cut down on the variable costs.
How can such a chaotic situation arise with so much goodwill and volunteering spirit in the population? The only missing piece is coordination.
We have created a web-app allowing to centralize the demand of the vulnerable people and to coordinate the help of volunteers.
What it does
The web app makes all the known existing delivery platforms from Coop@home to Mylocalstore available to vulnerable people, on a single platform. Anyone willing to buy groceries can choose between a complete range of shops from local retailers to supermarkets.
The shops which do not have their products online already can list them on our website, for free, to increase their visibility and broaden the offer to the customers.
People volunteering to help with delivery log in to the web-app and notify their availability. Once an order is made, volunteers receive a notification and, after acceptance, buy the pre-made order in the shop and bring it to the customer, before being reimbursed.
How we built it
The web app was built using the reactjs framework. It is currently a demo app meaning that even though features showcases are functional it is run locally on the client’s machine without connecting to an external database.
Two views are available, one for the person that needs a delivery and the other for the volunteer. After the login, the person that would like to request a delivery has the option to create a shopping list. The shopping list is composed of a preset enumeration of items. Currently, the list is quite scarce but more items will be added to the database quickly. For each item, the client can choose a quantity (in liters, grams or units) and add a special request (such as a specificity for the product). He can then enter the delivery name and address. It could be the information of a relative or his own address. After submission, the home page of the app will display the status of the order. Once a volunteer has accepted the order and input an estimated delivery time, the information on the screen will change to showing the contact number of the volunteer and the estimated time. At this point, the person can mark the delivery as delivered which will allow him to place a new order.
On the volunteer view, there is a section allowing the volunteer to search for an order using custom settings. He can choose the maximum load weight and distance he is willing to travel. The search currently does not account for the distance as the geolocalization feature is not yet implemented. The volunteer is given information about the delivery address, contact information, an estimated weight, and the shopping list. He can then accept the delivery that will update the status on the customer side. At this point, the order is considered as in progress and the volunteer will see a “tick” button on each item of the list which he can use as he picks items in the shop. Once done, he can mark it as delivered which will allow him to look for a new order.
Challenges we ran into
Gathering information about the problem was the first challenge we ran into. It is hard to contact the shops’ managers over the course of one weekend and having their feedback is essential to grasp the current situation and needs.
Work organisation with so little time allocated is a massive challenge. Developing a web-app is not an easy task and requires days of work. We had to start coding on Friday evening before receiving any results from the market analysis. Once we had the results only limited changes in the app were possible.
Even with the great online communication tools we have access to, it is sometimes hard to communicate without direct contact. The absence of non-verbal expression increases the risk of misunderstandings.
Accomplishments that we are proud of
We are very proud to offer a unique and functional web app whose relevance has been demonstrated.
This was the first time our team worked together. For most of us, it was our very first hackathon. Despite our lack of experience, we managed to work efficiently thanks to a good team management allowing everyone’s skills to be highlighted.
What we learned
Obviously, we have learned tons about our specific subject. The food delivery market has no more secrets for us and through our forms and phone calls we have grasped a good understanding of the actual situation for food retailers and volunteers.
On the social aspects, we have learned to work efficiently together under a very constrained time window.
What's next for TakeEatEasy
In order to have a fully operational platform, one still needs to implement the following sections:
Shop tools for owners. Currently the list item is a preset list. The goal is to allow shop owners to list their items on our platform which would allow customers to select a shop and then be able to build their shopping list using the available items of that specific shop. Shops that already have an online platform will not have to enter their data on our platform, our platform will connect to the API or do data scraping. The shop information would then be shared to the volunteer when accepting an order.
Build an external API and database. Currently, the app runs locally so instances do not interact with each other. The next step would be to build a database containing all the data used in the app and connect it using an API.
Add localization for orders and volunteer to calculate distances. The search option in the volunteer view does not currently account for his location nor the distance between the shop and the delivery address. A simple connection to the google maps API would enable this calculation to be easily done.
Prioritization of people in real need. Collect information of the customer and calculate a severity level. In case of high demand, the priority will be given to the people that are the most vulnerable