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Street vendors (baitšokoli) will soon have their own tills, just like in big supermarkets, but on their phones. Their tills are an online app! “With it, street vendors will keep accurate record of their sales,” said Khotso Mohanoe, the former student of the National University of Lesotho (NUL). “If someone is doing selling for you as a street vendor, you can still just log into the app anytime of the day to see how the sales are going!”

Imagine you are a street vendor and you have this app on your phone.

This is how your typical day might look like. First you decide what goods you are going to sell. Maybe you decide to resell bananas, apples, oranges and sweets.


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You go stock them.

You have already created a barcorde (or a QR Code) for each of the four items.

After stocking, you now log into your app and tell the app how many of the bananas, apples, oranges and sweets you have baught on that day. Then the selling begins.

Oops! The first buyer is already here!

She wants five bananas, one orange and two sweets. You open your app and scan the banana barcode/QR code. Then you put in the quantity of bananas being baught, which is five in this case, into the app. You do the same for the orange and the sweets.

The app immediately calculates the total amount the buyer pays and how much change she should get back. But before a change is given, the app asks you, the vendor, if that was all the buyer wanted. It could be that the buy still wants to buy more. If she does, more scans are made and more quantities are put in. More totals are counted and the change is given.

If the buyer no longer has anything to buy, then that specific purchase is closed.

But it has been recorded!

This is very important because in the end, the records might say something about the deeply hidden behaviour of buyers. The record could show the vendors that many buyers are more likely to buy oranges only if sweets are also there. More on what the records can tell later.

Then, oops!

Another buyer is already here.

A new purchase starts. This guy just needs an organge and an apple. Thats all. The same process is repeated.

Now it could be that both of these first buyers are not neccessarily interested in having reciepts. But what if they are? Well, this machine, can also generate a reciept! Buyer one gave M30, and got back M5.30 in change. Unlike normal receipt, this receipt is not printed on paper. Rather it is just sent though whatsapp to the buyer and there she goes.

Sounds good so far.

The day goes by and several sales are made and it’s now time to go home. Once at home, you log in to your app and a whole new world opens up. Before this app, you tried but it was hard to keep these kinds of records. Now everything is here. You know which items were sold, in what quantities, what cash was given and how much change was returned in each case.

In fact you can even see the kind of cash people are more likely to bring in the morning versus in the evening and you plan the next day accordingly.

Again, in the past, you were just kind of selling and selling—and selling. You didn’t give much attention to which of the items you were selling were actually the most popular in the market. At least you couldn’t say for sure. With this app, the trends are clear. Oranges are wildly popular and bananas are sluggish. In fact, it seems, you could make profit buy focusing on selling exclusively oranges 🍊and dumping bananas🍌.

Severals weeks later, you wake up one day and you dont feel like going to work. You’re kinda sick or something.

You note a loitering dude in the street, teach him a thing of two about the app and, there he goes. However, in this case, you want to be careful. You don’t want this guy going deeper into the app and, for instance, seeing how much money you are make a month (ngamla o etsa nyoko e baya). “So you restrict him only to the selling functions of the app,” Mohanoe said.

Off he goes.

At lunch, you are still on your bed but you want to know how he is doing. No, you don’t call him. You just log into your app and, oops! This chap has just sold a dozen oranges. If it were you, you could have already sold two to three bags by now.

You ring him, “pull up your socks dude!”

Mahanoe says he credits his supervisor, Mr Seforo Mohlalisi, both for raising this idea in his final year project at the NUL and for supervising him through it all.


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