In case you’re wondering, ‘hai kya’ is a hindi phrase that loosely translates to ‘Do you have?’ or ‘Is there?’ which is something that every customer who walks into a store says first.
In this world saturated with apps, we decided to come up with one more. Here is why we think it makes sense:
Follow the story of two students from IIT Bombay, they might as well be a reflection of you in college (if you are/were the ‘ideal’ student who managed to work till the last moment).
So, if you found Prura and Machi’s story entertaining enough, read on to find out how Prachi and Mayura reached there.
It all started with a project brief which challenged us to make our campus (IIT Bombay) smart. This got us wondering what ‘smart’ actually meant in the context of societies. We looked at multiple systems for parking, transportation, energy consumption that make living environments smart.
What makes these systems smart is not the tech that is used, but that they gather and structure information to augment the user’s memory.
It all started with finding gaps in the user’s day to day life which came as a result due to the lack of information. Following are the areas we looked at to find these gaps:
We then brainstormed in depth on three user groups and explored different aspects of their roles.
This helped us find niches that could be solved by making sense of information and representing it in a useful way.
At this juncture, we had a few leads but we didn’t relate to any of them to actually pursue it further. So we decided to go back to our initial brainstorming to find a direction which were more relevant and we were more passionate about pursuing.
We stumbled upon a gap that existed between the retail stores on campus and the students.
The problems with these stores are:
- They do not adhere to a time schedule.
- The student doesn’t know about the different stores and what they sell.
- They stock up on very less inventory (so the chances of a product running out is very high).
- There is less chance of having your favourite brand available.
The 18+ retail stores inside the campus keeping the students updated about what they have in the inventory, if it is available and if they are open/shut.
Since we were making this for the all the students, it made sense to first talk to them to make sure that the idea made sense and we got positive feedback and constructive ideas from everyone:
‘I always come down from the 10th floor to find the store closed!’
‘(Cheekily) Can it also deliver to my room then?’
‘It would be really helpful to know which store has the exact brand of product I need so I don’t waste my time looking around.’
— A few of the B.Tech, M.Tech, M.Des, PhD, M.Phil Students
On getting a go-ahead from some prospective users, we decided to ideate further to find out more gaps in adjacent areas and also to improve the current systems in any way that we can.
Development of the idea
It was easier to ideate for the students since we could design for ourselves and then validate the ideas easily with feedback from our contemporaries.
Another area that we thought we could tackle was the store owner’s side of the process. Their distributors and process of stocking inventory.
Since it was harder to get to know their point of view, we conducted contextual inquiry with some store owners as well as employees at the store. This was followed by speaking to the authorities of the college who make make the regulations for these stores.
Unfortunately, the processes were heavily regulated so we realised that solving the problem on the existing system level would be hard to do with all the rules imposed by the institute. This got us to the realisation that our aim should be to augment the current system. However, we still kept looking for ways to make the app relevant for the store owners.
Giving the store owners an incentive to use the app and update it was important.
Following is a short storyboard for the store owners about how the app would help them.
Mapping all our ideas
However, for conceptualising the nitty gritty of the app, we decided to stick to the MVP.
Testing & Feedback
Aim was to make sure the interactions that we had planned were clear enough for the store owners/employees.
Ideas for future scope for an app like this were plenty, here are a few of them -
- Selling ad space on the app for retail stores outside the campus
- Portal for students to sell second hand items on the app
- Inclusion of room delivery services
- Adding the inventory of stores outside the campus
Thank you for reading!
This project was completed in a span of 2 weeks with Mayura Datar under the guidance of Prof. Ravi Poovaiah at IDC, IIT Bombay.