A Devwalks Case Study
The Providence Flea is a community flea market run in locations across Providence in the state of Rhode Island, USA. Managing the markets was a very time consuming process requiring multiple spreadsheets per market, hundreds of application and support e-mails from vendors for each market, tracking of vendor suitability for each market and payment status for each market date. Market sites were also required to be manually assigned on a weekly basis of each market, while trying to ensure fair treatment for each vendor and food truck owner.
This is an incredible task for a single market, but even more daunting when there are 6 or more markets to be managed in a single year. The total time for managing each market was in the hundreds of hours.
Automating Away Repetition & Process
Automating away repetitive work that has been traditionally managed by email and spreadsheets is one of the classic ways that a cloud software product can help your business.
Thousands of man-hours can be saved every single year by creating some simple automation software that meets your specific requirements. The key is to make sure that you’re not making it even harder for your employees to get their jobs done, so it’s crucial you create a great product!
A well planned software project could alleviate many of the pains being experienced by managing the market and our goals for this project included:
- Automate as much of the vendor application & management process as possible.
- Create a single source of truth for the data for each market and each vendor, including vendor approvals, applied dates, product photos and vendor details.
- Streamline the process of vendor onboarding and vendor market applications.
- Remove the need for spreadsheets.
- Functionality to run multiple markets in parallel, including short-term and pop-up markets.
- Ability for multiple "admin" users to manage the markets.
- Ability to assign vendors to market sites using a market map.
- A market manager can create custom market site maps using a flexible site creator.
- Ability to see at a glance the assignment of vendors, food trucks, non-profits and musicians across the range of available dates for a single market.
- Printable reports for managing vendors during market days.
Project Planning and Scope
The Providence Flea project was completed over two distinct phases:
The first phase created the base product, with the ability for the market manager to manage a single market at a time and allow vendors to apply online, rather than the traditional method via email. The manager could assign sites via a map and print reports for individual market dates or the market as a whole.
The second phase implemented much of the learning created by interacting with the first version and allowed for much greater flexibilty regarding vendor accounts and applications, as well as customisable market location maps, running markets in parallel and much more.
"I’m very happy with how the project turned out, and I was impressed by the flexibility and attention to detail by the devwalks team to make it perfect. I’m convinced the progress we’ve made into automating as much of the process as possible will translate into cost savings for our team and increased profits down the road."
- Maria Tocco, Market Manager
Managing the Providence Flea is now significantly easier and less time-consuming now that it can be primarily managed via the online web application. Vendors can easily apply to be a vendor via the online form and then apply and manage their requested dates for future markets at their leisure. Thousands of hours will be saved in the coming years by impmementing this project.
Creating an interactive market map creator has given Maria much more
The project was assessed for a number of months during its initial release and much of the learning was then distilled into the second release of the application which then led to many new helpful features and adjustments, creating an even more effective piece of software.
Future versions of the market management software may include payment processing using Stripe and Paypal, along with invoice tracking, email notifications and more, streamlining the management of the market even further. There are also exciting opportunities for the product to be further enhanced in the future to allow other market managers to use the software for their own purposes, creating a new revenue stream and business opportunity for the Providence Flea team.
A Small First Version
Depending on the goal of a software project, a small first version is often a smart way of testing the most valuable features in the real world and learning as a result of that testing.
The learning from the first version can then be compiled into potential features and adjustments for the future versions, creating a very smart way of managing both the budget and effectiveness of the end product.