Food distribution systems are in need of change, particularly with pandemic threats like Coronavirus. For example, we recently became aware of a new food bank distribution center by Hawaii 501(C)(3) nonprofit Feeding Hawaii Together that lost it’s lease a couple years ago and has purchased a new building that opens this week in the midst of social distancing requirements due to COVID-19.
Client Hand-Pick Model Now at Issue
FHT’s previous customer model was for clients to be able to enter and self-select items in a walking warehouse facility. This model presents significant food safety and pandemic threat issues. As app builders, our first question was how many clients have smartphone. The answer: 98+%. Apparently, many get government funded phones and bandwidth. These devices are a lifeline for the under-resourced to maintain a lifeline with an increasingly digitized community.
A Concierge Grocery App & Pickup Window
The clear solution was to build a concierge shopping app for clients to pre-shop, submit and wait for a notification on when to pickup groceries at a walk-up window. This solution offers:
- Remote Pre-Shopping: more convenient than waiting in line for hours to enter a facility.
- PickUp Window: staff pickers means greater food safety and digital connectivity to offer specials and nutritional counseling.
- Personal Accounts: option to define personal preferences and pre-built shopping lists.
A New Brand, Website & App
We became of aware of FHT’s needs about a month ago. At that time, we had been engaged to create a new website for the launch. In a Board meeting, we discovered that the new location was grossly under-parked (we’ve created food distribution business like ChefZone before, so we knew a bit about traffic patterns, inventorying and picking processes), hence the app project. Shortly after we recommended and app and concierge model to solve the parking problem, COVID-19 became a pandemic, underscoring food safety issues that we had raised. We also raised the concept of delivering nutritional counsel and the vast amounts of grant funding that is available for improving the health of under-served clients. The team is super-charged and running forward with building out the new model. SaaS Ventures took on creating:
- A New Name: we named the facility “The Pantry” locking down ThePantry.org.
- A New Logo: a strong look that doesn’t pander yet inspires and brings hope.
- A New Website: including a short term e-commerce shopping solution for use while the app is being built.