Vancouver service offers free grocery delivery to seniors

Anjel app allows aging shoppers to place orders online or via mobile with minimal swiping and scrolling

A Vancouver nurse has developed a free grocery delivery system for seniors.

Ian Li, who called himself a “tech entrepreneur by day and a registered nurse by night,” said his goal for Anjel was simple: “To create a self-sustaining service where seniors, persons with disabilities and others who truly need grocery delivery the most, get free grocery delivery, at a store of their choice, and with in-store prices.”

His solution lets users log onto Anjel (through a mobile app or on their computer) and order their groceries from a handful of discount grocers such as No Frills or Superstore.

There is no formal arrangement with any of the grocery retailers and Li adds items himself to the Anjel site with in-store prices, creating a virtual catalogue from which users can place their orders. Volunteers pick up and deliver the order at a day and time of the customer’s choosing. There’s also no credit card needed: users e-transfer cash to Anjel and the money is added to their account.

As for the suggestion seniors are generally technology adverse, Li said that was only partially true.

“Many don't like ‘technology’ simply because software, devices and many of the everyday technologies are not designed with seniors in mind,” he told Canadian Grocer.

“As a nurse, I am aware that as we age the moisture of our skin, especially in our finger tips, begins to diminish,” he said. This makes tactile actions like swiping difficult. “And seniors often wouldn’t know where to swipe to navigate the app,” he said. So Anjel was designed with minimal swiping and scrolling. “And for functions that required scrolling or swiping, I added indicators to facilitate them doing so.”

Anjel was designed by taking those unique challenges into account, but that doesn’t mean users won’t need help to get started and Li is working on ways to provide that assistance to users. “Our challenge right now is having the manpower to show seniors how to use the app.”

Li also suggested having a family member or caregiver place the order for them.

The idea for Anjel was sparked in one of Li’s classes in the Master of Health Leadership and Policy program at the University of British Columbia. Li used some of his business classes to learn more about grocery stores and delivery and do some market research. He got some early help on app development from UBC engineering students, though he handled much of the design work himself.

To this point, Li said his main focus had been on creating a usable and simple service for seniors and the volunteers who will be the backbone of the service. So far there has been little interaction with the grocery retailers, but that will change. “It is certainly my intention to do so,” he said. “I believe that such relationships will become integral to the sustainability of the service.”


This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds