A spare parts delivery app for the plumbing industry that was inspired by Deliveroo is making it easier for plumbers and gas engineers to work during the Coronavirus pandemic, according to its founder Viktor Muhhin.
Viktor is a gas engineer with more than 10 years’ experience, and says he knows how much of the day can be wasted trying to source parts, and was inspired to create the Snap-It app to find a more efficient way to get products delivered to site.
He says: “A lot of my guys on site didn’t have their own vans, so they’d call and tell me what parts they needed, then I’d go and buy them and take them to site. But as our business grew, we needed to find a better solution.
“I’d see Deliveroo moped riders parked up all over London waiting to be called to collect an order, and it made me wonder if we could create a similar platform for plumbing spare parts.”
The idea quickly took shape, taking advantage of the existing delivery infrastructure of delivery riders, many of whom are quiet until lunchtime when the lunch orders begin. Viktor says gas engineers tend to need to source parts first thing in the morning, when they’ve been to site and assessed what repairs are needed, and in the mid-afternoon when they’re part-way through a job and need something unexpectedly. And these are the times when many self-employed Deliveroo and Uber Eats drivers are quieter and looking for additional work.
How it works
The Snap-It app has now been running for three months, and is operating predominantly in central London, offering more than 2,000 plumbing and heating spares such as controls, zone valves, pumps and fittings.
Engineers can download the app, create a free account, and then log in on their mobile device to search for the parts they want. Once they’ve placed the order, the app automatically sends it to the merchant nearest the engineer’s location. If the merchant has the items in stock, they can accept the order for processing and dispatch. If not, they reject the order and it is sent to the next nearest merchant, and so on, until the order is accepted. The whole process takes just a few minutes, Viktor says.
The engineer can track the order at each stage and deliveries are usually made around 30 minutes after the order is placed.
So far 12 merchants have agreed to provide spares through the app, and 130 moped riders are signed up to deliver.
Tackling the coronavirus
Although Snap-It wasn’t created with the coronavirus lockdown in mind, its timely launch has unexpectedly helped gas engineers. Viktor says: “Ordering parts through Snap-It instead of going to merchant branches helps plumbers maintain their social distancing and protects shop staff, because they don’t come face-to-face at the merchant and they don’t have to touch the PIN machines – it’s all contactless. When the rider comes to collect the goods, they can be left in a secure place for contactless pick-up, and the goods are released in a similar manner. So there’s no human contact in the process – it’s something we are encouraging more people to use.
“We are witnessing more people queuing outside shops because there are limits on the number of people who can go inside the store, so the whole process of buying and collecting spare parts becomes more time-consuming for engineers,” he says.
Cutting down the time spent off-site sourcing spare parts also means engineers can get the jobs done faster, as they can carry on with the rest of their work while waiting for the part to be delivered.
Snap-It is focused on central London for now, but Viktor and his team are already making plans to expand the area it covers. The app is free to download for iOS and Android devices.