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 multi-lingual, 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 better experience for our customers. After having worked in bigger companies on software projects that scale to millions of devices, this was a unique challenge for me, and something I am very proud of. I would like to share my experience in building empathetic software for the masses.