Inspiration

The (full) lockdown in many countries has the global economy. The coronavirus pandemic is especially affecting small businesses in a variety of ways. From loss of business to remote work, things are changing fast during the COVID-19 outbreak and businesses are being forced to adapt. A self-employed or family-run business, local retailers, workshops are willing to keep themselves busy to minimise their financial damages and looking for creative ways how to still offer the consumers their services. The digital transformation can help them and they are ready to use such an option now. Hence, we have created a prototype for a mobile-driven hyperlocal e-commerce platform.

What does “wala” mean?

-wala (or -walla, or in British -wallah), derived from Marathi and Hindustani वाल -vālā is a common an Indian surname or suffix indicating a person involved in some kind of activity as a worker, vendor or seller.

Examples: Banana-Wala, Vegetable-Wala, Kirana-Wala (small shop), Rikshaw-Wala, Plumber-Wala, IT-Wala, etc.

What it does

Upon activating their online account, business owners are able to sell vouchers immediately. Subsequently, they can add products and services to their inventory. The simple and intuitive user interface makes for easy onboarding, even for users with low tech-savviness. Each shop owners business page allows for a personal and emotional introduction to the consumers, simulating closeness. Products can either be shipped or be offered for pick-up, thanks to the proximity of the clients.

The Wala web app allows consumers to spot and buy from nearby retailers in just a few swipes. The first thing they see when entering the experience is a local map with all Walas. The pick-up option, if offered, guarantees the fastest possible distribution of a purchase and is highly convenient.

How we built it

Clickable screen designs

For our wireframes we used FIGMA. For our designs, we have used Adobe XD.

Working applications

There are 2 apps. One for the customer, and one for the retailer. Due to the tech stack know-how in our current team, we have decided to develop the native iOS customer app with SwiftUI + swift. The retailer app is a web app, built with React. As a backend we have used firebase.

Technology stack: FireBase, Cloud, Swift, SwiftUI, JavaScript, React

Challenges

Core team and conceptualization: Besides the usual technical issues, our main challenge was building a team virtually from scratch. There was hardly much time to realize the strengths and weaknesses of each new team member, compared to the real world. The virtual workflow went well, as we checked-in into meetings every few hours.

Accomplishments we are proud of

Looking retro perspective at the past 72h, we are really proud of already working product that can scale, although not all features and designs have yet been implemented. The first feedback from the market has shown that we are on the right track and we could help many stakeholders during the hard time of COVID19. We hope not only in this phase, but also later stage the solution will be used: Because of the love to local!

What we learned

Focus. Not only because the number of features that can be implemented in a short time is limited, but also, because too many ideas dilute the customer value proposition.

What's next for wala

Product:

  • Build an Android version of the wala-facing iOS app
  • Add features for direct interaction between wala (retailer / service provider) and consumer
  • Iterate at a next hackathon: https://www.versusvirus.ch/

Content:

  • Onboarding of new shops and service providers, who are not yet digital
  • Populate the experience with existing shops with town e-commerce shop
  • Advance vernacular language: German, French, Italian and others

Marketing:

  • Digital Marketing of our app and spread the word in local communities

Links

Link to the clickable screen designs: https://adobe.ly/2UKxgxO

Github repo for retailer react app: https://github.com/MelanieMeister/Wala.git

Github repo for iOS customer app: https://github.com/rmichelberger/wala-ios.git

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