Minimum Viable Product Validation of Vansah
This is the third part of the module IT Venture Design, where we — a study group of four people — designed and evaluated a business idea. Here you can check out the business idea and product idea validation.
The minimal viable product (MVP) to try out our business idea needs to provide some necessary functions. For example, a product directory, customer and vendor management, and payment functionality. Also, it should work on all devices, especially on mobile phones.
An easy and quick way to achieve this is by using frameworks. The core functionality of our MVP is working with WordPress, starting with version 5.4, meanwhile at version 5.6. The main reason why we chose WordPress is the enormous market of additional Plugins. We used WooCommerce, a free Content-Management-System, to create an eCommerce system in WordPress. It contains many useful aspects of our MVP, like product management, and saved us a lot of time to use this instead of building it by ourselves. Also, there are many additional WooCommerce Add-Ons like PayPal or Stripe, which delivered accessibility to the payment providers. To administrate several foodtrucks on the page parallel, we needed a management system of the vendors. For this issue, we implemented the WordPress plugin Dokan, which transforms the eCommerce system into a three-sided marketplace.
This results in our MVP a website with the following main features:
- Location overview
- Product overview
- Product detail site
- Checkout with time selection
- Vendor Dashboard
Some features were too individual to use a plugin. Mostly because we needed connections between many different plugins. One of our key features is the time selection at the checkout when you want to collect your order at the food truck. For this issue, we needed a time and date checkbox, which in the background checks the capabilities of this timeslot for this food truck. The available plugins on the market could only ensure a time picker, but without checking the orders of this specific food truck. The reason for this is, that the plugins only work on an eCommerce platform creating with wooCommerce. A multi-vendor marketplace with Dokan is not supported with these plugins. So, we created this plugin on our own.
Besides, we needed an administration and selection option for the customer on our website. This case is heavily linked to the time picking issues, because it also depends on many plugins working together, so we also build this self. The main feature is a list of available food truck locations with a link to the product site of these vendors. In the background, the selection of the customer is saved into a session to check the capacity of the timeslots in the checkout process.
Also, the food truck needed an overview of the orders, sorted by timeslots. The primary overview provided by wooCommerce is not suitable for this particular issue. So, we created a primal solution for this.
After test runs, we detected several subjects, which the food truck workers raised.
Within an interview, we presented our MVP to the business leaders and allowed them to comment on missing features. Most of the learning we had was in the conversations with the employees. On one hand, we talked to them about what could be improved and on the other hand, we observed them at work to see where there were problems or misunderstandings in the interaction with the website. It was important to ask open questions and let the employees speak. It has been better to chat with them for a moment longer than to end the conversation quickly because they usually think of more during the conversation.
In the course of observation, we saw, for example, that the columns of the individual orders need to be visually better separated from each other or symbols for a takeaway of the food or direct consumption because the employees could already pack the food and otherwise time pressure arises when the customer wants to have it packed instead of eating it directly. If some suggestion were made by only one employee and this would result in a high implementation effort, one should weigh whether the effort is worth it. We had a case where we asked other employees at other events, but they did not complain about the same problem, so we decided to note it with a lower priority but not to implement it directly.
After the first suggestions for improvement were implemented, we showed them to the food truck employees and they continued to work with the platform. After that, the cycle started all over again and we expected new feedback. We went through the cycles of feedback and innovations with the food truck employees and improved the way they work and their comfort in working with the platform.
For the product evaluation, we interviewed customers on-site and sent out a survey after a Vansah Day. For further analysis, we used Yandex and Google Analytics. Yandex helped us to better understand user behavior and patterns and also where is room for improvement on our website. For example, we were able to find out that a special back button we introduced was not necessary because it was not used by a user. This button was introduced by an assumption of a founder, which was not confirmed. With Google Analytics we could find out how much traffic was on our website. For example, it was interesting to see where the customers came from, i.e. whether our Instagram marketing campaign was successful.
The implementation of the tools was easy and quick. Just install the plugins and change some little settings and add some lines of code to our website.
In summary, we are glad we used WordPress with WooCommerce to build our MVP. This allowed us to build the website for basically free (except for hosting costs) and to implement and try out more features. The development was comparably fast and could be quickly improved directly with customer feedback. The complete functionality with pre-ordering and online payment could be implemented and has already passed some test runs successfully. Another benefit is, that we are able to manage different locations online at the same time through the location feature.
It is important to gather customer feedback as early as possible. Focus on the essential features and small design adjustments should not be a high priority for the first MVP.