Coronavirus Pune: The app that will help you ensure social distancing while shopping

Pranita Roy
Sunday, 3 May 2020

Shopping for essentials at local grocery shops in long queues is causing inconvenience to customers. To provide respite to them, Pranit Parekar and his team in Pune developed an app called ‘SODI’-- social distancing which enables a person to book a time slot to visit his/her grocery store to buy products. 

Pune: Shopping for essentials at local grocery shops in long queues is causing inconvenience to customers. To provide respite to them, Pranit Parekar and his team in Pune developed an app called ‘SODI’-- social distancing which enables a person to book a time slot to visit his/her grocery store to buy products. 

This app was developed in just three days by V-TRO Motors Pvt Ltd founder Parekar along with co-founder Sakshi Khar, and his team members Pradip Shenolkar, Akshay Dighade, Ankit Tayde, Jyoti Mohite, Akta Kapoor, Vaibhav Thawale and Dipak Harne. 

This app will save time, energy and overcrowding of people at the grocery stores, stated Parekar. 

On April 17, when Parekar visited a supermarket in his area, he observed that people had crowded the billing counters and weren’t following the social distancing norms. “They weren’t wearing a mask either. Customers were also standing for long hours in the sun. When we surveyed, we found out such was the case at many grocery stores and big retail shops as well,” he said.

The survey was held at different areas in the city including Pimple Nilakh, Narhe, Kalayaninagr, Ambegaon, Koregaon Park. 

How does it function?
The shop owners have to register their shop in the app and put inputs like time -- when the shop will be open, he/she can divide the slots for customers and also adjust the number of customers to be served in the given slot. Similarly, the customers can book their feasible slots on the app. In case if the customer finds the preferred slot to be overfilled, then it will automatically book the next available slot or any slot on the next day. 

The customers can book their slots only twice a day. Also, when the customer reaches the shop, he/she can press a button available on the app that indicates the person visited the shop for the day, this will help the owner keep a tab, stated the founder.

“We are working on adding a feature which will enable the customers to provide their list of requirements, and accordingly, the shop owner will keep the delivery packet ready. The customer can either take away or ask for home delivery,” added Parekar.

Convenient for all
Parekar said, “Retails giants like Star Bazaar are currently using this app. They were initially following the coupon system, wherein the customers were distributed coupons in the morning, and they were asked to come according to the slots given in the coupon. Therefore, the customer was visiting the retail twice a day.”

About 35 shops across Pune, Delhi, Mumbai and other cities-- mostly local grocery shops are using the app. “We have provided the app facility to our relatives who have promoted it in their locality and have been using it now. They have stated it has reduced the havoc and made it convenient,” said Parekar.

The team is working on making the app available on the Google play store.

Survey reveals problems 
Fearing contact of COVID-19, the majority of the shop owners stated they want to keep their shops shut but are unable to do so. Because of the orders by the administration to keep shops open for a limited time, stated Parekar. 

There are a limited number of workers at the shop. Many are facing problems because their workers want to go back home/have gone home.

Managing the crowd is a big issue, as due to limited time permitted to keep shops open, people crowd outside their shops. 

Also, a few customers keep following habits like going to buy biscuits and negotiate over the brands or flavours. They also have touched the biscuits, so it is not safe to put it back in the case.

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