We built a Rapid MVP for a Retail Startup with No-code
More entrepreneurs are making a living out of their passion now than ever before.
The online startup culture has been booming for many years now. Countless young and old entrepreneurs are building thriving businesses around websites and SaaS to achieve their life's ambitions.
It goes without saying that for a SaaS business to survive today, a powerful website or web app is key. Yet, the starting cost and the inability to code and the effort of developing and iterating is a huge roadblock for many aspiring entrepreneurs. The perfect solution, we found, is to implement a cloud-based, no-code MVP first.
MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. An MVP is the initial iteration of your core product that you then improve on and refine to provide the best user experience. So, how does that help you as an entrepreneur?
Traditionally, building web apps and mobile apps took a lot of money and time, even if you could code. The Lean Startup methodology helps optimise this process by introducing an iterative approach to building a product or offering. An iterative process would surely help create a great product, but wouldn't it also be super expensive?
This is where our team at Blur Apps comes in. Our sole purpose is to create user-ready MVP web applications for start-ups like yours in a short amount of time and at a fraction of the traditional cost. Our methodology and tools ensure that an iterative process costs less - both in the short-term and in the long-term.
The MVP approach allows you to deploy fast and gather real-world data from real-world users as you can make the MVP available for the public to use. The data you collect from real-time feedback from your users can then be used to iterate on your initial product until you have a smooth user experience and great product-market fit.
Once you tell us your vision, we design and build it in a matter of weeks. It could be an app, a platform, a marketplace, a booking website, a social network, or anything else you can think of; we can create a fully functional MVP for it in a matter of weeks.
The secret behind such fast and reliable product development is our lean no-code approach to development. We create complex and fully functioning MVPs with little to no coding, with the use of the best tools for rapid development. These can be integrated with mobile, cloud, and physical devices.
Recently we created an MVP for a retail start-up. They needed a web dashboard that integrated with a mobile app and physical vending machines. We take you behind the scenes to show you how we make this startup’s idea a reality.
Planning and Designing the MVP
Our client provided us with a brief that outlined their business plan. Their goal was to build a platform that allowed the contactless and automated sale of retail products.
Three components were required to make this service a reality – a vending machine, a web dashboard, and a mobile app.
The dashboard allows the retailers to get real-time analytics of the inventory and performance of their vending machines.
The mobile app allows customers to log in, select products and buy them, without having to touch the vending machine at all.
Our design process followed the double-diamond approach. We used the 4 stages: discover, define, develop and deliver.
Our goal was to design an MVP in the shortest possible time with minimal cost, which will allow our client to collect honest user feedback quickly so that we could use those insights to make strategic decisions and iterations.
Keeping in mind that our client needed a reliable MVP on a tight budget, we carefully selected the tools for the job.
Picking the right Tools for Developing the MVP
When it comes to building MVPs, our low-code / no-code, cloud-based approach is is ideal considering that no-code drastically reduces production time and managed cloud services allow unlimited storage and automated scalability as needed.
Since our client’s offering consisted of 3 parts, we chose an appropriate tool for each component. Our choices were Bubble for the API server and web application, Flutter with Flutterflow for the mobile app, and Go scripting on a Raspberry Pi for the vending machine controller.
With Bubble for the web application, we didn't have to worry about user management, data security, or hosting issues. It would allow us to build the MVP, launch it as a customer-facing application, iteratively improve it with ease as we gathered valuable insights from our users, and even possible scale it there itself.
People have made applications that mimic Airbnb, Twitter, Instacart, and even Uber on Bubble. From a capability standpoint, there was no doubt.
For the mobile application, we used Flutterflow for the screens and then Flutter for the more involved functionalities. Flutterflow is the fastest-growing no-code platform to build mobile apps. It is an interactive UI designing platform for Flutter, a programming language. It allows the code to be exported and then enhanced with Flutter.
The final step was programming the Raspberry Pi for the vending machine controller. We used Go scripting and set up all the functionalities including I/O with the motors, communication with the Bubble Server, inventory management and more.
Developing and Deploying the MVP
A project with these many moving parts and components would traditionally take up to a year or more to complete. Our team was able to complete it in 4 months.
Bubble's interface helped us power through the database management, API integrations, user authentication, and inventory management really quick. With it's API functionalities, we connected the vending machine and the mobile app to the web dashboard via secure REST APIs.
We programmed the Raspberry Pi to accept purchase commands from either the mobile app or the touch screen on the vending machine using Go scripting. It validates the payment on the Bubble server and dispenses the purchased products through the vending machine.
The web dashboard and mobile app were completed in under a month each by using no-code tools. The Raspberry Pi took two months to complete, making it the component that took the longest time in this project due to more programming effort.
We completed two-thirds of the product with no-code. To add the finishing touches and custom functionalities, we used traditional programming as needed on top of the no-code base.
We integrated all three components while securely managing data flow between the devices on the Bubble database.
There is a reason Bubble has been named Fast Company’s ‘Most Innovative Companies of 2021’. It is a versatile and powerful tool that is reducing product development time by months.
Gone are the days when you had to spend close to 6 figures and over 12 months creating an application to run your startup. The no-code era has begun. You no longer have to worry about things like programming, data security, or hosting as your business grows.
To make it even better, we at Blur Apps are no-code experts and can create that MVP for you. Once we know your vision, we help you make it a reality.