Inspiration

With the recent surges in demand for essential products and subsequent shortages across stores throughout the nation, many people have found themselves unable to purchase even basic items. Unifyd aims to solve these issues by providing a democratized and decentralized platform that connects vendors with customers and provides an adaptable interface that lets users purchase products at a price they want, and buyers to sell at a price they are comfortable with. A platform like this eliminates the need to constantly make risky trips to stores just to check for supplies and provides users with an easy to use interface to ensure they get the things they need most.

Impact - Empowering Communities with Unifyd!

Unifyd brings positive change in communities during disaster situations (COVID-19, floods, earthquakes, etc).

1) It anonymizes product listings for local businesses on a municipal level. In doing so Unifyd makes the products of small local, brick and mortar stores (i.e. local pizzerias) as accessible to the public as the products of larger retailers (Costco, Walmart etc). This ultimately boosts local economies and serves as a crucial lifeline for small businesses on the brink of bankruptcy.

2) Unifyd helps mitigate the difficulty that low-income families face during times of disaster. By prompting vendors for a price range (rather than a fixed price as can be found in large retail stores and Amazon) it allows families that are struggling to get access to resources at a lower cost while allowing higher-income families to purchase the same resources at a higher net cost.

3) In situations as dire as COVID-19 no human contact is essential for delivery/fulfillment of products. An issue that has been exacerbated over the last 4 weeks, is that individuals have been traveling excessively to single locations (for example, grocery stores). Unifyd resolves this predicament by working with municipal authorities to determine a list of 20-100 different safe drop off spots for deliveries. The application chooses a nearby drop off location upon checkout to help minimize the mass gathering of shoppers in one location by distributing the significant traffic.

What it does

Unifyd allows local vendors (small or large) to connect directly with disaster-affected customers by allowing these sellers to post live product listings, that users can instantly purchase through Stripe's secure payment system and pickup through our novel fulfillment system.

How we built it

Unifyd was built using a plethora of frameworks and languages including customized Bootstrap for the frontend, and node.js for the backend. We also incorporated APIs, such as Google Maps for location/delivery data and Stripe for payment processing. Mongo DB back end handles transaction records, vendor product listings, and live optimized product searching through our custom API. The Mongo instance runs as a cluster on Google Cloud Platform along with the actual web server.

Challenges we ran into

Making e-commerce that facilitates transactions reasonably is HARD! It took a lot of planning, coding, and failing for us to get to this stage.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Not surprisingly making a UI that is intuitive and good looking takes a lot of effort. Although the logic and implementation make Unifyd what it is, we are really proud of the UI feel/look. Other than that we were also really proud of our end database structure. It took a lot of time to sketch out, but it at its final revision avoided redundancies and cleanly structured our data.

What we learned

Throughout the development of this app, we learned quite a lot about individual frameworks and API integration, but we also learned invaluable communication and teamwork skills along the way.

What's next for Unifyd

On a technical level, we had some trouble working with the Stripe Connect API and hope to be able to resolve the issues to ensure that payments go directly from customers to local businesses. From a broader standpoint, we would like to refine this product and propose it to local businesses in the area. We feel this is an incredibly reasonable goal because all relevant parties benefit and the decentralized nature of this application doesn't depend on local governments or extensive fulfillment resources to implement. It is in essence utilized and driven by the community.

Backup Video Link: https://youtu.be/2OLTIRQzhls

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