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Be safe be Saffy!

Saffy is a system that applies wireless technology to help small shopkeepers to inform customers about the disinfection of the shop

Photo of Cristina Lavazza
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The idea was born observing the problems of our friend Tiziana. She has small shop in Rome, a bio perfumery that must re-open after the lockdown.

Here's how our idea works.

1. The shopkeeper subscribes to the service and has the possibility to create an account via web/app on the platform that will allow to enter the messages and information that the beacon will send. The shopkeeper physically receives Saffy, the already profiled beacon that it will place inside the shop, the shopkeeper will also receive a sticker to stick outside the shop.

2. Customers are invited to download the Saffy app and activate bluetooth on the sticker. The customer will read that Saffy is a real-time information system about when and how sanitization took place inside the shop.

3. Every time the shopkeeper sanitizes the shop, a button on the app will record the action, the tapping of the shopkeeper sends an automatic message to the beacon that, via bluetooth, notifies the customer when come into the shop.

Advantage: this technology has the advantage of not being expensive for small shops and not being invasive for customer privacy. In this moment so economically difficult the choice of this technology is important for the following reasons:

  • Low impact on battery life
  • The devices automatically turn on when they approach a beacon
  • No internet connection is required and data store locally, on the device
  • Low costs.

Another key advantage is that Saffy is a reuse-oriented sustainable service: once the emergency will be over, Saffy may continue to be useful, the shopkeeper will use it for other purposes: to inform customers about products, ingredients, offers or discounts.

Plus: In the future after the pandemi will be over the shopkeeper might give back the X-shaped beacon to obtain another with a new shape and new messages to convey. In short, something that represents the end of the emergency and a rebirth for your business.


About Saffy: we choose the name Saffy because we would evocate a friendly, simple service that allow to get through the drama of Covid19 experience. The photos represent how might work Saffy in a real shop of our friend Tiziana.

What is the need are you focusing on?

1. Small shops are in economic difficulty and must accelerate economic recovery

2. Small businesses find it hard to reassure and encourage the return of customers to small closed places such as shops

3. Customers are afraid that places like shops are infected

Which type of submission are you sharing?

  • Sharing a pivot idea your organization is considering or could consider

Describe the business pivot or adaptation in 3-4 sentences.

Impact. The project restarts the small local economy: people will feel confident and spend money, merchants must sanitize the shop by law, but it will become a way to communicate it better at low costs. Through a simple, no-expensive, sustainable and reusable service, we think could increase the customers confidence in small businesses.

Do you plan to implement this solution?

  • No

Describe the impact that this solution will create in the world.

Saffy will allow for a faster economic restart of small, local and distributed businesses. Not being expensive and based on a very simple technology, it can be used on every area of the world. The beacon Saffy can become an iconic object of the challenge to be won and after the war that has been fought together.

What is the name of your business or organization?


What does your business/company do? Whose needs does your business/company address? Who do you serve?

We help companies to design their customer and people experience. We design services, objects, processes with all the people who have interest in them. Every time we choose the right path for that specific company, because we believe that each one is unique and different.

What is your profession?

head of Experience design

Where are you located (country)?


Where are you located (region)?

  • Europe

What industry is your business/company in?

  • Customer Experience/Service

How many people does your business/company employ?

  • 0-10

How old is your business/company?

  • 5-10 years old

Which classification describes your organization/business?

  • Business

What do you think are the main barriers to implementing this solution?

There are two critical points: • persuade the shopkeepers that Saffy is not a control system about their disinfection of the shop but a dialogue with customers • make customers understand that bluetooth technology is a "gentle" technology that does not steal their data or harm their privacy.

If you are currently working on a pivot, what have you learned so far?


Are you aware of any open source efforts, hackathons or other collaborative efforts related to your solution? Are you participating in these efforts?


Website URL


Join the conversation:

Photo of Susan Jackewicz

Hello Cristina Lavazza  very interesting idea! Small, local shop owners just might see a strong increase in business when people start to shop again in physical locations, avoiding larger retail locations with more people in them. I really like the service journey map you did! I agree with you shop owners might see this as someone controlling their disinfecting process. What if you focused on the "dialogue with customers" approach, and presented the idea as part of a pivot in their marketing approach? It could even be combined with an app that shows how many people are usually in the shop at what time of day. Anything to reassure shoppers there's less risk to them. And if they get special promotions on top of this reassuring information, how cool would that be! I'd love to come shop there!

Photo of Cristina Lavazza

Yes, super great idea! The marketing approach help us to overcome the fear of control of the shopkeepers. We imagine the transformation of Saffy (before and after pandemia) to avoid this feeling but we were afraid it was not enough...

Photo of Susan Jackewicz

Do you think it would be possible for your friend to form a "shop local" group with the other shop owners in the area? They could all use the Saffy app and become known as a "safe destination" for shopping, while being assured the shops were sanitized. This way shop owners might form their own community, maybe even comparing best ways to stay "clean".

Photo of Cristina Lavazza

Absolutely yes, even now that are close Tiziana and the other shop owners are always in touch helping each other, indeed they are several small shops in the center of Rome with a similar situation. Create a "security-community-district" in the area could also be very important for foreign tourism visiting the neighborhood. In the future I imagine that it will be difficult as a tourist to understand how shops in every place will re-think their models.

Photo of Susan Jackewicz

Love the idea of a "security community district"!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi. Interesting idea! I live in New York City. I think it would be extremely useful to have access to information about what is happening in local businesses, before venturing out to shop. Would Saffy work on an Honor System?
The things that concern me, regarding supermarkets/pharmacies, are whether or not the businesses enforce social distancing. Are they doing it and if yes, how? Also, are they enforcing the use of facemasks?
I was reassured at a small local food market when I saw a hand sanitizer dispenser on the wall, as one enters, and a sign asking customers to use it before moving further into the store. They also posted a sign on the door stating that they are closed from 12 pm - 1:30 pm in order to sanitize. This is the only market where I have seen these two interventions in my local area, to date.
(When I take walks I have been checking out what is going on in local stores. I noticed that in some supermarkets social distancing is not practiced very well. I have read in the news that some markets have created a system where the store aisles now go in one direction only. I like that idea. i have not seen this locally.)

Would it be possible for businesses to provide further details on their safety practices using Saffy?

I also really like the idea of a security community district!

Good luck developing the project!

Photo of Cristina Lavazza

Thank you for appreciation. In Italy where I live, the situation changes a lot from area to area from north to south. In Turin, for example, you can enter the local outdoor markets a few people at a time, before entering there is a person who checks the use of gloves and a mask and measures the fever for customers. It seemed to me a very interesting experience. In Rome, however, each store is trying to understand and organize itself as it can, there is no orchestration. Saffy would like to be a tool but also a way to connect people in difficulty (small shopkeepers) and maybe put them in contact. Actually, Saffy can communicate any emergency and non-emergency information. I liked the idea of a resilient object that changes use like the situation we are all experiencing. In Italy the mantra is: "Everything will be ok" I hope so.