By Deepak Kiran, Chanakya Gujju, Sumanth, Santhosh Prabhu M
SMSbay is a platform that brings buyers and sellers together through single largest medium of communication in India - the good old mobile phone. SMSbay can be operated in different ways. We can operate it so that we are the single provider for the platform, and the buyers and sellers register with us. But better still, we can make SMSbay available to millions of people spread right across the world, and they can provide small platforms for buyers and sellers in their locality. This is possible because SMSbay needs no cutting edge technology, not even internet - just a computer, and a mobile phone connected to it. Whichever be the mode of operation, the philosophy of SMSbay remains the same - bring small sellers closer to their buyers. These sellers would typically be people who have little or no internet knowledge, and certainly without the money required for corporate shopping apps. Also, being a small business, they would be selling perishables, which can benefit from very short transaction times that SMSbay can provide. As already mentioned, for setting up SMSbay, we need a computer and phone connected to it. The mobile number for this phone will be the number which will act as the central contact number. Vendors (Bimala Sweet Shop from the IIT Market (better known as Tech Market) for example) register with the SMSbay provider, by providing their mobile number, and details of the items they wish to sell (They can add items later too). Buyers register with SMSBay by providing their mobile number, and their address. Every item in SMSBay is uniquely identified by an itemcode. For example, 'TMRICE' could represent a particular variety of rice, sold by a particular vendor from Tech Market. SMSBay advertises the codes for available items. The vendors too, may decide to advertise codes for items that are sold by them. When a customer decides to buy and item, he sends the following SMS to the predefined central contact number: <ITEM_CODE> <QUANTITY> For example, to buy 5 kg of Tech Market Rice, he can send the message: TMRICE 5 The customer can also place multiple orders in a single SMS. Moreover, it is not mandatory that all the items in an SMS be supplied by the same vendor. For example, if there is a vendor in Gol Bazar who supplies a rice variety with code 'GOLRICE', the customer may send: TMRICE 5 GOLRICE 6 SMSBay keeps track of the price and available quantities of every item sold through it. If a particular item is not available in sufficient quantity, the customer gets a message indicating the same. The remaining items(if any) in the SMS are still processed. On receiving the order, SMSBay updates the current stock information, and sends an SMS to the vendor, indicating the product to be delivered, quantity, address of the customer, and the customer's mobile number. The SMS also gives the vendor an Order ID. For example, the order 'TMRICE 5' will result in the vendor supplying 'TMRICE' to get the following SMS: 14, TMRICE, 5, ND 402 VSRC IIT KGP, +917501682448 Here, 14 is the order ID. This is followed by code, quantity, address and phone number of customer. Once the vendor services this order, he confirms it by sending DELV 14 to the SMSbay contact number. Even as SMSbay sends the order information to the vendor, it sends an SMS to the customer too, indicating the total amount he needs to pay. This is in addition to information about items that could not be supplied to him due to non-availability. It is possible that the customer may not know the code for the particular item he wishes to buy. Or, he might not know whether there is an item that suits his needs in SMSbay. In such situations, he may send an SMS as follows: LIST <query> to SMSbay. SMSbay searches the database, and sends the item codes, descriptions and prices of items that match his query. For example, we have shown a possible query, and its result. Query: LIST Market Rice Result: TMRICE Tech Market Rice 14.0 GOLRICE Gol Market Rice 15.0 If there are more than 2 results, the top two(cheapest) items are sent (with an indication that more results are available). The vendors are not obligated to make sales only through SMSbay. They can sell their stock from their stores too. When such a sale takes place, the shopkeeper can update the stock information by sending STOCK <ITEM_CODE> <CHANGE_IN_STOCK> The same command can be used to convey information on addition of stock. For example, 'STOCK TMRICE -10' deducts 10 from the stock, while 'STOCK TMRICE 10' adds 10 to the stock. Once the stock is updated, the vendor gets a message indicating the new stock. It has been enforced that only the vendor for a particular item will be able to update stock information for that item. The STOCK message can also be used to view current stock, by sending STOCK <ITEM_CODE> (without mentioning the change in stock). The vendor can update prices of items sold by them by sending 'PRICE <ITEM_CODE> <NEW_PRICE>' to SMSbay.