How do you Solve a Problem like… Scanning a Muffin?

This is a blog from Will Broome, Founder & CEO, Ubamarket Ltd.

Just this past week, our amazing retail app has rolled out in-store. But it’s been a long, four-year journey before arriving at what the rest of the world will see as the beginning of Ubamarket and, along the way, we’ve encountered every problem imaginable. And some we could never have imagined until they slapped us in the face like a big, wet (variable measure barcode) fish, which could have up to ten thousand price and weight variations which, in turn, need to be instantly and flawlessly recognised by the app! And breathe.

A more fundamental problem first though. How do you solve a problem like scanning a muffin? As you will know, a muffin is made of muffiny-stuff and, when you pick it up from the freshly baked goods section of your supermarket, it doesn’t have a packet or, therefore, a barcode. As it happens, that particular conundrum was almost very simple to overcome because, if you can’t scan a bakery item itself, you can simply scan its specific shelf-mounted barcode instead, right? Well, usually, yes. But, in this case, you can’t do it. And that’s because our prototype store (along with thousands of other stores across the UK) uses short-cut picture-based ‘quick codes’ at the cashier for certain items which look like barcodes but aren’t. Goddammit. We’ve figured out (some rather sophisticated) solutions for all of these challenges and we’ve filed for Patent Protection too because we’re genuinely working things out here that have never been done before. It’s amazing that something which can make or break an app, and takes approximately three seconds in store, can take the world’s finest System Architects weeks and weeks to code.

Other problems we came across include (but are in no way limited to) loose fruits, temporary special offers, multi-buy deals and how to ensure every Ubamarket user benefits from Automatic Loyalty™. That’s right, Ubamarket means you’ll never have to dig around in your bag or wallet for a loyalty card, ever again. It’s revolutionary and it’s so easy. And for that reason alone, these unique and groundbreaking features were bloody difficult to create! The key to a great app relies upon just one thing: simplicity. If it’s simple to use and it makes your life easier then it’ll work. If it isn’t then it won’t. The user experience is everything.

This is a blog from Will Broome, Founder & CEO, Ubamarket Ltd.

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