How can we leverage technology to reduce grocery store waste?

SERVICE DESIGN, WEB DESIGN

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During the first Venture Weekend Hack, 120 participants were challenged to create a project under the topic of smart cities during a 24 hour period.

My team decided to tackle the problems of food waste and poverty. After a weekend of research and design, we created the concept of Next Market - a pop-up market that gathers near-expiring and “ugly” foods from grocery stores and farms and transfers the food to low-income neighbourhoods for a discounted price.

My team won second place and received the RBC award.

Role

User Research, Design, Wireframes, UI, Prototyping

Tools

Illustrator, LucidCharts, Sketch, Invision

Team Members

Adam (Developer),
Andrew (Architect),
Sherman (Developer)

Duration

November 2018
(24 hours)

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Problem #1

Large amounts of waste and greenhouse gasses are being produced through perfectly edible food that is being thrown away by grocery stores.

  • Nearly 60% of food produced in Canada is lost and wasted annually.
  • Of that, 32% is avoidable and is edible food that can be redirected to support people in our communities.
  • The total financial value of this potentially rescuable lost and wasted food is a staggering $49.46 billion.
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Problem #2

Poverty continues to exist in our cities with some unable to purchase the needed food to feed themselves and their families.

  • 12.8% of people in Mississauga are low income.
  • Many lack access to services.
  • Neighborhoods are poorly designed in a way that creates a trap for poverty.

Challenge

How can we leverage technology to reduce grocery store waste?

Outcome

We designed a business model for a community market that takes near-expiring (but healthy and edible) goods and delivers them to low-income areas. In these areas, weekly marketplaces will be set-up to distribute this food at a more affordable cost. Thus, making food more accessible and reducing grocery store food waste.

These Community Marketplaces would

  • Use existing inventory management to redistribute potentially wasted food.
  • Create physical markets to deliver and sell this food.

  • Utilize the initial launching market as an anchor to allow more "Next Markets" to expand organically.

  • Leverage data to target specific neighbourhoods that can benefit from physical markets.

How It Works

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Accompanying Website

I designed the user experience of discovering information– who we are, where to find market locations, how to get involved, how to foster the community and more.

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Process

Tackling the problem / Ideating

Market Research

We conducted a benchmark of multiple existing applications that would compete with the app including: Second Harvest, Imperfect Produce and Grocery Stores.

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Second Harvest

A food and rescuers charity that recovers fresh, unsold food and distributes them to different social services and organizations.

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Imperfect Produce

A service that delivers misshaped, scarred and “ugly” fruits and vegetables directly to customer’s through online orders.

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Grocery Stores

Retail shops that primarily sell food. The most popular option for consumers to purchase their groceries.

User Research

We gathered secondary information on the financial status of the city of Mississauga from Vital Signs 2018 report and the 2017 Financial Report. In addition, we spoke first-hand with Mississauga residents who reside in low-income neighborhoods. From our insights, we developed a persona to target our service to.

PACT Analysis

In order to flush out our idea and get a better understanding of how our users will interact with our service, we further analyzed the People, Activities, Context and Technologies involved in the service.

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Web Design

Information Architecture

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Design Principles
  • Trustworthy - The website builds trust with users and encourage them to use our service.
  • Simple - The website must be easy to understand and simple for users to navigate content.
  • Informative - The website must provide users with concise, accurate information on market locations, how to get involved and more.
  • Delightful - The website must be delightful to use and must invoke positive emotions.

Web Prototype Re-vamp Coming Soon

Reflection

When we first started this hackathon, my team full of developers were extremely interested in approaching the smart city design challenges with ideas of taking existing objects and tasks and pairing them with emerging technologies. I encouraged my team to take a more thoughtful approach of conducting research and defining a problem before jumping to a “cutting-edge” solution.

Although our product may not completely fit the “smart city” definition, we achieved a winning idea that is in turn, more inclusive BECAUSE of the lack of need for technology on the user’s end. Thus, my key takeaway from this experience is that design and innovation is not just using the newest technologies to create sick products, but focusing on the user, their needs and simplifying it while still maintaining the qualities that make us human.

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