Push Cart Tech : How to make them digital and solve last mile delivery

Tony Mathew
5 min readFeb 13, 2022


Push Cart vendors form a significant part of the people who are employed in the unorganised sector in India. They may vary from street vendors who are stationed at permanent locations on a street to those who move around in a neighbourhood, like vegetable vendors.

Two signficant factors about pushcart vendors are :

i, Big trust among customers , especially for the long serving vendors

ii, Great knowledge of all details of the areas they cover in their routes

Currently most of the push cart vendors in major Indian cities use phones with mobile interent connections and accept UPI payments from their customers . This blog suggests how to add a further digitisation layer to them to help them gain better customer reach and thus more income and also how they can be utilised for last mile deliveries.

1, Publishing of photos of items available at the start of a day

For many vendors, their regular customers would love to see the items available on a day, once the vendors have stocked their carts at the start of a day. There should be a common portal where vendors can click pictures of their carts and upload them at the start of the day and maybe even few times during the day to show current stock status. This can also attract new customers who looking to purcahse a particular item and want to see the nearby vendors who sell them.

Pushcart vendors should be able to upload pics of the items they are carrying in their carts

2, Video call option to do shopping from stationary vendors

Regular customers may want to shop for perishable items like vegetables , fruits, etc during the start of the day to get the best available stock. In such cases , if the customer is not able to visit a vendor in the morning, a video call feature should allow them to shop and pay for the required items. The customers can then pickup the packed bags later as per convenience or get the bags picked up by a delivery service provider like Dunzo or Swiggy Genie.

A video call option maybe a good feature to enable vendors selling a large variety of items like books, utensils so that the customers who do not have a particular item in mind, can see all the available options and choose the ones that interest them.

Customer may want to video call a vendor and see all items available and know price

3, Option for customers to indicate purchase interest to moving vendors

Push cart vendors who keep moving throughout the day have certain fixed routes which they cover everyday. By enabling a digital list of the items sold by such moving vendors and their approximate route information, customers can know beforehand the vendors that cover their neighourhoods. There should be an option for customers to notify the vendors about their interest in buying certain items on a given day . This will ensure that a vendor who sells a particular item will cover the interested customer’s route.

Such an option is very useful for items for which a customer’s demand may not be daily and is more random, like few days in a week.

A tender coconut vendor is a good example of someone carrying a product for which a user’s demand may not be daily and hence a user would like to inform them of a purchase intent on a given day to ensure availability

4, Map based tracking of moving push carts vendors

Currently almost all pushcart vendors who are moving use two options to inform their customers when they are passing through an area :

i, Conventional mode of shouting out the main items they are selling

Example of a moving vendor using own voice to indicate items he is carrying

ii, Tech mode of using battery powered loudspeakers with pre-recorded messages

Digitisation of the route plans of such vendors with approximate map based tracking of their current positions can be used to enhance this process. With this sort of digitisation, customers can know in advance which vendors selling what items are covering their area on a given day, can give purchase interest if needed and then can get alerts when the particular vendors are currently in their areas.

5, Use of stationary street vendors as pickup locations for ecom

Many stationary vendors have fixed locations on the streets for many years and the customers in a locality have a great amount of trust on them. They are an untapped option for serving as a pickup location for eccommerce deliveries. For situations where the ecom customers are not at home during delivery, customers can be given an option to choose from list of nearby known street vendors as pickup locations for the items.

Stationary vendors can be chosen in each street for keeping ecom items for asynhrounous pickup by customer

6, Use of moving street vendors to complete last mile delivery for ecom

Most push carts a spacious bottom layer that can be used for carrying ecom items that are to be delivered to customer locations in the planned route of a pushcart vendor

Moving pushcart vendors who have been covering the same areas for a few years or more typically have great knowledge of details of the localities . They can easily identify customer addresses and landmarks. They are an untapped option for completing last mile ecommerce deliveries of easy to handle and non urgent items like clothes, books, etc. They can help ecom companies with asynch delivery problem . The companies can deliver items for a customer to a nearby hub or pickup point. Later when the customer is at home, she/he can either pick it up or can use delivery by a pushcart vendor. Based on the customer’s indication of the time they are available at home, a particular vendor who is covering that route can be assigned to pickup the item and deliver to the customer. This create additional income source for vendors.



Tony Mathew

Passionate about technology, startups & sports