There is a growing trend in the UK around veganism. Being a vegan is good for the environment as a vegan diet produces less greenhouse gas emissions. However, according to search trend data, people are asking Google what products are vegan friendly.

What it does

Vegan scout is an Alexa Skill that allows you to check if products are vegan friendly. Accessing a product database, the skill returns information andrecommendations on products. For example "suggest a vegan gravy", the skill will then return a selection of products that are ok for vegans to eat.

ISP is integrated so that you can have three free searches per month. Using monthly subscriptions, a customer can pay for full access for £0.99 a month.

How we built it

  1. Design

We designed conversation on paper to start testing with our colleagues. This gave us feedback on possible other ways customers could ask questions. From there we created designs online using Botmock

  1. Development

We used the Jovo framework for the project, creating the language model and logic. Amazon DynamoDB was used to store the product related information that would be returned in the skill. We also used Amazon DynamoDB to store data on how many times users used the skill for free before the ISP message.

Alexa Presentation Language was used to display results on devices with a screen and then In Skill Purchasing was employed using the monthly subscription model

  1. Testing

To test, we setup the Alexa in a meeting room at the office for different members of the wider team test out.

Challenges we ran into

With a large amount of product data, our first version of storing data was too slow returning results. Moving to DynamoDB and some organisation changes resulted in product recommendations coming back lightning quick.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are happy with the overall product considering the product was completed in three days flat from start to finish as part of a test on rapid development.

What we learned

It's very important to store how may questions are asked before the ISP up sell message. This will allow us to experiment with how many questions to have before the up sell.

What's next for Vegan Scout

Promotion of the skill in the vegan community, recipe recommendations and personalisation e.g. we can learn the customer doesn't eat nuts and then add that into the result types. This would be using the new personalisation in custom skills features.

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