Shoprite Order and Pay

App • Ux • Ui • Artificial Intelligence • AWS

The Challenge

Swipe iX is a proud partner to Shoprite/Checkers working hand in hand with the Retailers' internal Innovation Team to identify, scope and solve business challenges using and building scalable, innovative and cost effective solutions that deliver on the Company's compound promise to its customers.

Shoprite Holdings is the largest FMCG retailer in Africa. With a market capitalisation of R96 billion, the company operates 2738 outlets across 15 African countries, employs 146 000 people and serves in excess of 35 million customers. Since it was launched 40 years ago, the company's promise to its customers has always been "lower prices" making it the leading low-cost retailer on the Continent. One of Shoprite's long-standing goals is to "make shopping as quick and easy as it can be". Thanks to their Money Market services customers can pay accounts, send money, book bus tickets and buy insurance in-store. The stores also feature LiquorShop and MediRite Pharmacies at selected outlets.

As with any retailer the world over, offline shopping still presents a challenge during peak hours when customers are faced with long queues at strategic points in stores. On the business side store managers need to meticulously plan resource requirements to address both peak demand as well as idle periods during which the store waits for the rush to hit.

For our first challenge Swipe was asked to build a tool that addresses this challenge.

Key Objectives

  • Reduce idle time by utilising staff to complete pre-ordered jobs e.g. processing medicine scripts, making deli wraps, pre-packing bread rolls etc., when the store is quiet.
  • Remove friction for the customer by allowing them to skip the queue and collect their pre-paid order at a convenient collection point with minimum waiting time. I.e. reduce the line length.

Hypothesis

If users are able to pre-order and pre-pay online, they can skip the queue and collect their completed order from a dedicated counter. Think online check-in and bag drop at airports. Swipe's approach was to create a custom built tool that can be scaled and which is configurable to allow for a number of in-store use cases across Shoprite's extensive retail footprint.

For the proof of concept (POC), Swipe proposed a beverage ordering service that will allow Shoprite employees to pre-order and pre-pay for beverages from their on-campus coffee shop, Ricardos, and to collect the order in person. The thinking was that in the time it takes to place an order and walk to the coffee shop to collect, the barista will have completed the order.

If proven successful, the POC can be extended to include coffee shops, delis, pharmacy counters and more in public facing Shoprite/Checkers stores. The tool should be architected in such a way that it can be integrated into the existing Shoprite and Checkers apps as well as surfaced via popular chat clients such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger saving users time and offering a friction free shopping experience.

Technical Overview

Chat app

  • A progressive web application is leveraged as the user interface. The application presents the user with a list of products to order. Multiple products can be selected and a visual cart is built for each order.
  • At startup, the app requests a list of available products to represent and a session ID is sent back with the response to keep track of the user's session and order.
  • Once the order has been completed, an API call is made with the order. The order result is stored in DynamoDB from where the ticketing app retrieves the orders. As part of the fulfilment, billing information for SnapScan is sent back with the order result.
  • Once the payment has been made via SnapScan, the app polls the platform for the payment status, and once the payment has been verified by the platform from SnapScan, a completed screen is shown.

Portal

  • A progressive web application is leveraged as the user interface.
  • The portal is used to keep track of new and existing orders.
  • As a POC the application polls every n seconds for new orders to display.
  • Once a ticket has been completed the application updates the status of the ticket accordingly.

Platform

  • The platform exposes an API to both the client and portal web applications.
  • Both web applications are hosted on an S3 Bucket and is served using AWS CloudFront.
  • The rest API is hosted on API Gateway using Lambda as the compute platform.

Tools

Networking & Content Delivery

Compute

Database

Security Identity and Compliance

Storage

The Result

Ordering via a mobile device and collecting in store is not a new concept, companies such as Starbucks have implemented it with great success, however delivering a working POC in less than 3 weeks is no mean feat. The speed and agility afforded by cloud services is what allows teams like ours to innovate, ideate, build and deliver tools that show true value in a short space of time.

Following a carefully honed work flow model for rapid prototyping the Swipe iX team worked in partnership with Shoprite to complete rigorous user testing both closed and open and the net result is a tailored product that is being used campus wide at the Shoprite Headoffice.

With full scale production in mind, the tool can be customised for multiple use cases allowing users to pre-order and pay and in so doing skip the line on arrival. The tool is also exportable to a chat client, i.e. in future users can place orders via a WhatsApp business channel instead of a web page. With the key goal being to reduce line length, overall feedback points to significant reduction in line length and improved convenience for users.

Minor additions have been made on the portal side since the POC launched which include a menu update feature (to include combo deals and tag out of stock items), and a system liveness feature has been added for baristas.

This POC resulted in Shoprite signing Swipe iX as their Innovation Partner.







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