Grocery platform development
Readers should know that the development we are working on is something that none of the Food Supplying companies are expecting.
It is also a concept that can only be accomplished if an Independent IT company, without any close relationships towards one specific group, do the software development.
Management in the retail sector all want solutions to reduce operational costs. They never imagined that the Gift card structures they independently manage might one day play such a role.
Our solution is simple, but there are technical challenges..
We develop the Grocery support platform so that it can support two methods
A support platform that interlinks with different food companies in such a manner that it fits their existing Gift Card structure. (No changes required to work with us)
The different groups all had their own internal teams who planned the different structures on which they intend to provide gift-cards to consumers.
OK branches are for example the franchise division of the Shoprite group. The gift-cards that Shoprite provide, which can be used in any of the Checkers, Shoprite or USave branches cannot be used in the OK stores.
The OK software structure is not compatible with the Shoprite software structure. OK introduced its own gift card structure.
All the groups decided to establish their own “digital marketing teams’ who focus to build a client base that will order gift-cards in bulk. We already mentioned that the different groups offer separate discount percentages based on volume sales.
Our challenge is not to manage the different discount structures. It has more to do with the way the different groups support the public with gift cards.
Pick n Pay is in this regard the most convenient company to work with. The Homecare team only mail their gift-card division a list of gift-cards with their individual card numbers and the amounts per card that needs to be loaded. The Pick a Pay team then upload each card individually after they confirmed that the payment for all the cards reflect in their bank account.
With the Shoprite group, it is a different process. We order digital vouchers from their digital marketing team. The Shoprite software provide us with 16-digit unique digital codes that our server then SMS or mail to the person’s phone. The recipient thereafter go to any of the Shoprite or Checkers stores and the gift-cards are then be uploaded at store level with the amount we ordered via the digital voucher.
The Shoprite server only has the following digital voucher options:
We can only issue the 4% additional groceries after the server saved the points required so that we can issue a R50 voucher. The Shoprite process is in our view not effective. There are too many processes and we believe there is a better solution which we want to present to Shoprite team.
A solution that we want to present to all the different groups, which will speed up and ease the process to load gift-cards.
Although we develop two platforms, one where we support the Shoprite group according to their existing structure, and the other where we support Pick n Pay with information where they load the gift-cards, we believe that all the groups will work on our suggested platform.
Our plan is to arrange a meeting with Pieter Engelbrecht (CEO Shoprite group) by April 2019. We first need to establish a client base, specifically clients in the hospitality industry, before we have that important meeting. Three to four months will give as enough time to prepare for such a meeting.
We will in April 2019 present the Shoprite management team our entire business plan. (Readers reading this page should know that the entire business plan which you have access to is only presented to approximately 20 people. It is such a confidential document and we trust readers will honour our request to keep it confidential….)
Our board will explain to Pieter that their existing support structure can be streamlined when we use our technology and our software can exclude a lot of unnecessarily human interaction.
Pieter Engelbrecht will only instruct his IT team to implement our software if he believes that the Homecare team is going to interact with such a large population that they cannot take the risk to remain on their existing support structure, which will put unnecessary pressure on their own team and on consumers.
Remember, we will be Shoprite’s friends… We are the only organization that can effectively bring in foreign currency via the Accommodation Booking systems where R2.7 Billion is currently lost. We can use these funds to support important projects and almost 99.99% of these funds will end up inside bank accounts of food companies in our country.
We publish 2 examples that we will discuss with Pieter and his team. These examples explain why technology that we develop is the most efficient way to support the public.
Example 1 (Trainee in Police college receives support from other police officers):
A Policeman for example, might be registered on the Extra Grocery platform. He will in future order a gift card for his personal groceries. The software must calculate that the policeman receives 4.5% additional groceries on his own order. The software must calculate which Trainee in the collage should receive the other 0.5% groceries, until the trainee for example earned enough credit to receive a R500 voucher. There will be more than one Policeman who support a Trainee. (This is just one of the internal projects we develop.)
It will be IMPOSSIBLE for any food company to provide such a service. One policeman might prefer to purchase groceries at Pick n Pay, the other at Shoprite… How will they independently from each other be able to help the police trainee?
Example 2 (Domestic worker receives support from employer):
An employer order vouchers for her domestic worker. The domestic worker has different needs.
She wants to send R900 to her mom looking after children in Sushanguwe and her mom buy groceries from USave (Shoprite Group).
She also needs R600 for herself to purchase at the Pick n Pay in Alberton.
The employer will only pay in one amount (R1500).
The employer makes an EFT payment out of Absa.
Shoprite‘s bank account is at Nedbank.
Pick n Pay‘s bank account is at Standardbank.
The software will within seconds be able to initiate a report that our accountants approve so that they can transfer the R900 +4% (R936) combined with numerous other clients’ orders in one batch into Shoprite’s Nedbank account.
They will also within seconds transfer the R600 +4% (R624) plus numerous other clients’ orders in one batch into Pick n Pay’s Standardbank account.
The different webservices that link with the food companies’ bank accounts will within seconds load the different gift cards with the correct amounts.
Again, it will be IMPOSSIBLE for any food company to provide such a service.
What is our goal?
It is simple, we want to load a gift-card within seconds, and also to load it with business rules where people can help one another.
We want to do this within seconds. The existing infrastructure used by food companies has never been developed to support huge volumes. It is also a process that takes up to 2 days, before a gift-card has the credit on it for a client to use.
There are numerous voucher codes that is used if we implement the software platform that is currently used by companies such as Spar, Checkers, Shoprite, USave and Woolworths. We can exclude digital codes and work directly with the end source (The gift-card).
Everybody will benefit if we can exclude the 2-day delay.
There are a lot of things we need to take into consideration. One of the most important aspects is Security. The banks have got enough Security systems in place to protect the Food Company’s money, and also to protect the client’s money for the short period that it will be in the Homecare Trust account. The software will within seconds instruct the Homecare accountants to transfer the funds into the Food company’s bank account, where they protect the client’s funds against the credit on the gift-cards.
The following diagram will provide more insight
Homecare Advanced Web service
The Homecare server will install the Main brain of the project. This web service software will read all the deposits that we receive in all the Homecare Trust accounts that we will set-up with all the banks in South Africa. We cannot wait a day for funds to appear in our accounts if the Employer for example bank with Absa.
The software will immediately update the employer when we received payment into our account. (The website generates a reference number when a person orders that gift-cards should be loaded. Each person that transfer funds will use a separate unique reference number)
The Advanced Web service software will then calculate which gift-cards must receive additional funds and it will also take into account that cards often receive additional points/funds, based on support from other users such as police members. (This will be the brain of the project)
The software will then compile the reports for the accountants for them to release funds into the different bank accounts of the different Food companies.
The software will then communicate with the Web-service software of the different food companies. This communication will be done through the firewall.
Grocery Company Web Service
Our IT team programme this web service software which we will provide to the food companies. This software will read the transactions on for example Shoprite’s Bank account. (We will recommend to Pieter Engelbrecht that they open a separate bank account specifically for the project, although it will not be compulsory)
The software will look for reference numbers on their bank statements, and if it picks up a reference number it recognize, the software will then load the different gift-cards with the amounts that it was instructed by the Homecare Advanced web service software.
Readers should know that this function will obviously first be tested by Shoprite group. Their IT team will also work through the software structure to ensure that the web service can only do the work we developed it to do. The software must for example notify the Homecare Advanced web service software if it could not load a specific card. There might be a scenario where the person notified Checkers directly that he lost his card and they blocked it. This information will be passed on to the Homecare team so that the issue can be addressed.
This software will however eliminate all the human activities that is not necessary to help customers.
Shoprite will be in control of their software systems and bank accounts. Each company will ensure that their systems are protected and will use their own IT protection teams. The banks as you already know can protect each company’s bank account.
We have seen how much time is saved at till points when people pay with gift-cards instead of cash. It takes time for the till operators to count cash and to give the correct change. The gift-card is just swiped and it even takes up less time than when a person is paying with a credit card where the bank first is contacted via the card machines.
If you think the two examples of the Police trainee and the domestic worker is difficult, just imagine how difficult it will be for a food company to disburse funds into groceries based on a profit share module. Management in the guest houses might plan that the cook should get a larger portion of the booking fee commissions than the cleaners…The software must share the commission amongst staff based on different preferred rules and that can be thousands of options. Just imagine what work load will be required when a person resigns from the guesthouse and a new employee must now share in the booking fees!
We might need to support more than 13 000 accommodation companies with profit share structures. That on its own will be a tremendous task if accountants would have been responsible to help staff in the hospitality industry. In this project, the business owners will basically pay the employee the same wage/salary as what they are used to, with one exception, to transfer the grocery component on behalf of the employee via our software to the companies the employee request. It will basically be only one setting that the employer has to do on the grocery platform website, and thereafter there will be hardly any work involved.
The software will do the miracle work. This project will only succeed, because we do not pay out cash to the employees. The software loads their profit share onto their grocery cards.
We are developing software that most IT companies will think twice about!
We are programming the best software ever, to help our country… This is by no means an easy task, but we are up for it!
It will help us a lot if we have the ability to inform food companies that we have "key partners" who will target other role players in the construction, fuel, private security industries to see if we can involve more companies to use one grocery platform, and by doing so, help the food companies even better to save on cash handling costs. Our strategy to involve tourism industry will help, but the best will be to be viewed as an important role player that might even one day impact SASSA grant receivers as well.
The most challenging part is actually the development where we need to support food companies without gift-card structures. Here we develop an SMS interface that we will provide detail on later in the project. We cannot ask people not to support the smallest of grocery stores.