A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) in collaboration with the Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI) have developed an e-token system for grocers and local buyers to help people maintain social distance and reduce the time spent while standing in queues.
The system is called SMALL-BAG, which stands as an acronym for Shopping Management App for Local Buyers and Grocers. The application utilises both SMS and email so once the customer fills a google form or sends a text message containing their order to the grocer, an electronic token is generated to the consumer via email of text message, following which the customer can monitor the live status of their groceries through a web address. The respective vendors update the tokens status and customers can accordingly go a collect their orders.
Speaking about this new innovation Professor Bhaskaran Raman from the department of computer science and engineering said, “The e-token system will be beneficial even after the lockdown because physical distancing will have to be followed for a long time. The system is useful for managing crowds by minimising the number of people visiting the grocer, which will also be helpful during summer and monsoon months. Both SMS and email versions of the e-token system are operational at the institute,” added the professor.
The software is currently open source with the team providing free support to set up the system. Since there are a lot of vendors accepting grocery orders on WhatsApp, the team has developed an online ordering system through which a customer can fill a form consisting of partial product information. Once the order is ready the customer receives a notification letting them know that their order is ready via email. “Orders on WhatsApp are very unstructured as compared to an online system. No third party in our online ordering system will bring down costs for the vendor while scaling up business,” said Raman.