In the face of the novel coronavirus, a majority of countries around the world (including Switzerland) have imposed partial or complete lockdowns, in an attempt to limit unnecessary physical interactions between citizens. Still, as the need to buy food and essentials remains, grocery stores have emerged as a prominent point of contact between a large number of individuals - a risk for continued (and possibly fast) spread of the pandemic across the population.
A fair number of excellent solutions to this problem are being implemented, but, due to an extremely high demand for deliveries, they can prove insufficient. Supermarkets and third parties have initiated professional delivery services aimed at vulnerable shoppers. However, due to increased demand, these services have already been overwhelmed with orders - if you order now, you might have until next month to get your groceries.
On the other hand, volunteer-based apps call for volunteers to get groceries for vulnerable shoppers, eliminating chances of physical contact throughout the process and ensuring protection for the latter. Nevertheless, even if there is a large number of volunteers to support these initiatives, a separate shopping visit is usually necessary; it is conducted by the volunteer, not the vulnerable shopper, but traffic at the supermarket remains the same. More importantly, it is shown that the concept of a “vulnerable shopper” might not apply to this situation; even younger and healthier people can get seriously infected.
Introducing Pasta La Vista
Pasta La Vista is an app focused on avoiding unnecessary trips to the supermarket for small purchases. The idea behind it is very simple. In your house, if everyone wants to buy something, you don't go all to the store, you create a shopping list so that one can buy everything alone. You ask someone that is going to the store soon to get you something.
With this app, you can see who in your community is going to the store soon, and you can request them to get something for you! Offering incentives for accepting requests and getting rid of all the payment hassle makes this as comfortable as asking a family member to get you something.
How we made it
We have used MockPlus, a mock application developer to create how we envisioned the app to work. Designing the UI to be as confortable and welcoming as possible. We have been testing it with users to use their feedback to develop further to meet the needs of our users.
Challenges we ran into
1. Offering a rewarding experience for people that accept requests and offers to do trips for others. How to convince people to accept buying items for others.
After considering several options, we decided that for people to accept this idea, gamification would be a good idea, but not the main focus. The main focus would be in erasing all reasons people would have to not want to volunteer.
2. Getting rid of the inconveniences of getting items for others. How do I get in contact with others? How to know where to deliver the request? How do I receive some assurance that I will be reimbursed for those items?
First, we have given full power to the person offering to buy items, when an user wants to go o the shop, he will receive requests from others to buy items for them, and he is free to set constraints for the requests, see who is requesting what and decide whether to accept or not.
The idea is quite simple, the user who requests the service sets a credit card to be used, and for each request, the items will be detected. Using current APIs available in the market, the app will determine the upper bound of the price of the items, and if validated, the payment will be secured.
When the requested items are delivered and they are verified, the payment will be validated and excess money will be returned. Any missing items will be accounted for, you will not have to be concerned with available stocks or a forgetful buyer.
What we learned
This experience has been quite rewarding. From UI design to getting in our user's shoes to find out how to best meet their needs, this has definitely helped us become better designers.
If sufficient interest is attracted, we would like to see how we can develop this idea further to make this a reality.
We hope that our idea and investigation will influence and motivate people out there, and that it will attract attention. This is a real problem, both with and without an ongoing quarantine. Everyday, millions of people drive to buy items, and most of these times, there is more than enough space to carry some more.People in your community, your neighbors, possibly need something, and you can save them a trip. CO2 is rising, lets not increase the amount of miles people drive unnecessarily.
Try It out