Saturday, June 26, 2021
The food wastage in India is 70 tonnes per year, and there is mismanagement at several layers. Approximately 20-30% of the wastage happens in the last mile, between wholesale traders, and retail mom-and-pop stores. Is there something we can do about food wastage?
This was the problem statement I attempted to solve as a first engineering hire at a startup. Our customers were 12.8 million retail owners that deal in FMCG (Fast-moving consumer goods, such as food grains, tooth paste, etc.). The goal was to develop a platform for retail traders (mom and pop shop owners / small and medium business owners) to buy FMCG products from wholesale traders using an Android app.
We were attacking a deeply entrenched business practice to help solve a societal goal. For a section of the population which is not very well versed with smartphones and technology, the user experience had to be designed from the ground up to be multilingual, fungible, unstructured, and relevant. In this talk, I cover how we went about iterating the solution from a simple SMS based system to a full fledged app backed by micro-services. Having a micro-service architecture provided us the agility to experiment and iterate quickly, and we were able to push out changes much faster, and help solve wastage problems even sooner.
I will discuss the several problems we faced in this segment with regards to unstructured data, and how our data models had to adapt. We used cloud services extensively, so I will also cover how different pieces came together in a cogent form to build a better experience for our customers.