New Waterloo-based startup aims to make grocery shopping more efficient during COVID-19
For people who spend too much time looking for the items they need while grocery shopping, a Waterloo region-based tech start-up claims to be a potential solution to this problem.
With the onset of COVID-19, “Spot It” CEO Caleb Opersko saw an opportunity to utilize his company’s software in order to help people in need.
“If you had been interacting with Spot It before 2020, chances are you would have been doing so through a retailer channel, i.e. their website or kiosk,” Opersko said.
“But when the first wave of the pandemic struck, Spot It, like many companies, wanted to find a way to help. We knew that our software helped people find items faster so we thought that we could help people get in and out faster.”
Since the pandemic took hold back in March, continuously evolving guidelines regarding social distancing procedures and COVID-19 protocols have drastically affected the ways people are able to shop.
“It could minimize contact for everyone. So, we pulled some very late nights and put together a very rudimentary site that had 14 local stores mapped out. You can still see it at maps.spotitmapping.com,” he said.
Spot It quickly gained support and attention from members in the community, which pushed Opersko and his team to continue modifying it.
“After the launch, though, the feedback was great from the users, so we decided we would put some resources behind it. We spent the summer redesigning the site and adding stores to what you see today,” Opersko said.
“The mapping system that the platform uses was designed to be very adaptive and easy to use so there are a lot of ways to collect the data. This can range from working retailers, users and even visiting the store. We do what is necessary to make sure the maps are accurate for the users but don’t disclose too much for the retailer.”
According to Opersko, the mapping system that Spot It uses provides multiple benefits for shoppers and retailers.
“Using our mapping system and being on the platform has a multitude of benefits for both the retailer and its shoppers. For shoppers, they are having a more convenient, positive experience to do the same shopping as they know where they are going even before they step in the store,” Opersko said.
“Just as the maps can help shoppers, they can help employees as well. We have studies and real-life results that show using maps in location-based tasks such as restocking makes employees more efficient.”
“Even just from the aspect of helping shoppers, though, can save a retailer money. Every time we interact with an employee, we take them off a task. If a shopper can navigate themselves, they get a more positive experience that a store had to use less resources to achieve,” he said.
As for growth, Opersko is hopeful about the directions Spot It could potentially explore in the future.
“There are so many really cool ways that we can move this forward. We hope to have a recipe/home project tool soon, we have a sorting algorithm we would love to add that sorts lists for efficiency and even have a flyer experience,” Opersko said.
“We would also obviously like to grow the store count with new geographic areas, brands and categories.”