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It has shopping carts, shelves, refrigerated sections and cash registers. But it is not a supermarket.
It’s a place where to collect donations for basic necessities. But it is not a food collection.
It redistributes food and essential goods to those most in need. But it is not a distribution service of food parcels.
It is Portobello, the Social Store of Modena, and its logic is slightly different from almost everything it looks like: a supermarket, a food collection, the distribution of food parcels.
Therefore, a group of volunteers expert in the computer field has decided to help to develop a software solution specific for this reality, “Portobello POS” (Point-of-sale).
The managerial software allows the operation of the cash register just like in a traditional supermarket: the products are run on a bar code reader and added to a receipt, which is printed at the end of the shopping. Every product that comes out of the cash register is subtracted to the availability of the stock, in order to be always updated on what comes out and what stays.
The similarities stop here.
At Portobello do not circulate money, credit cards or loyalty cards. Customers are recognized by the health card (or fiscal code card) and a photo stored in the computer system, which appears in the cash register when the card is run through the card reader. This choice is dictated by the rapidity of use of the fiscal code card (which everyone should have in his/her own pockets, even foreign citizens) and by the respect for the environment (we avoid printing unnecessary plastic pieces). Each client is assigned a credit limit in “points”, which can be spent each month, and a series of purchase limits to ensure that the most rare and necessary products are not subjected to hoarding.
Also the warehouse is managed in an original way. The entry of the products in the computer system is very simplified, within the reach of an inexperienced volunteer: a few product categories, few data to be provided to the system to let it know a new product.
And there are no suppliers, but donors whose archive of donations are accurately tracked down.
The software has been developed by following the same logic of sharing that is at the basis of Portobello. Volunteers started from an existing software program whose source code was freely available (LemonPOS) and they publish all corrections, customizations and improvements with the same Open Source phylosophy. In this way, in case any other institution will be born in the future, anywhere in the world, it will be able to get completely inspiration or to use again the solution developed for Portobello.
Below you can monitor the progress of the development of Portobello POS. This project is carried out by professionals volunteers. The following graph quantifies the value of donated work, according to the average statistics of labour costs and professional efficiency.