NICOLE
edited.png

mundo

Mundo: Freight Shipping Service Inspired by the Balikbayan Box / ongoing personal project

Mundo is an online marketplace app for freight shipping services to the Philippines. Users can refer to this app for sending balikbayan boxes of goods to their families in the Philippines, comparing and choosing local freight services, and communicating with other users for advice and concerns. ‘Mundo’ in Filipino means ‘world’, which refers to this central system in which overseas Filipinos around the world can connect with freight services and with each other when sending balikbayan boxes.


—Research and Empathize

It is a common practice since the 1980s within Filipinos outside of the Philippines to pack bulks of food, toys, clothes, and other items into large corrugated cardboard boxes to send to their families in the Philippines. We refer to these boxes as balikbayan boxes, with balikbayan referring to any person of Filipino origin living outside of the Philippines. As a Filipino-American born to immigrant parents, I often see my mom buying items such as Skippy peanut butter, Folgers coffee grounds, and SPAM to pack into our balikbayan box that we send to our family almost every year.

This practice often deals with playing a game of tetris when packing items, laboring through securing the boxes with tape and rope, going through documentation and contacting the best and safest freight services. Users often express concerns over the security of their shipments and the difficulty of finding the best freight services. Due to new rules enacted by the Bureau of Customs in August 2017, balikbayan boxes would need to be supported with declaration form and list of items due to the duty and import tax. There also seems to be an unofficial community in which overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) express both concerns and suggestions through multiple platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and personal blogs. It is clear that the balikbayan box is a common part of our culture that resonates how Filipinos truly value the family regardless of distance, and it would be great to take this practice a step further.

Fun fact about this photo —as I was researching information on balikbayan boxes, I came across this photo on Google of an impatient Filipino couple (on the right) at SFO bringing a load of balikbayan boxes with them to the Philippines. I then realized this scene looked so familiar and that the impatient couple are my own parents! This was a part of a trip my family and I took in 2007 when we traveled to the Philippines for the first time since my parents migrated to San Francisco—you can see part of my 9-year-old head behind the orange duffel bag. Apparently someone took this photo without our consent, but I personally think this is a wonderful photo regardless, and it only made me even more excited to pursue this personal project!

Fun fact about this photo—as I was researching information on balikbayan boxes, I came across this photo on Google of an impatient Filipino couple (on the right) at SFO bringing a load of balikbayan boxes with them to the Philippines. I then realized this scene looked so familiar and that the impatient couple are my own parents! This was a part of a trip my family and I took in 2007 when we traveled to the Philippines for the first time since my parents migrated to San Francisco—you can see part of my 9-year-old head behind the orange duffel bag. Apparently someone took this photo without our consent, but I personally think this is a wonderful photo regardless, and it only made me even more excited to pursue this personal project!

See collected research in this InVision board.

—Define the Problem

There is currently no sole system in which Filipinos can refer to for tracking their shipments, organizing their packed items into a list, and comparing freight services to send large shipments to the Philippines.

How might we…

  • establish a central network that users can refer to for comparing, choosing and contacting freight services when sending balikbayan boxes to the Philippines?

  • provide a way for shipments to be secured from theft so that balikbayan boxes reach recipients safely?

  • develop a community among OFWs and their families to help make the idea of sending balikbayan boxes a wonderful experience?

See analysis and insights in this InVision board.

—Ideate and Low-Fidelity Sketches

The primary idea that came into mind was a central website or app that lists out local freight shipping services to the Philippines. To address the questions above, features that could be integrated into this central network came into mind:

  • users can compare and choose the best freight service to use for their balikbayan boxes through the app

    • this omits the need to browse through services individually whether it is online or in person

  • users can track their shipments through this app

  • users can easily fill out a list of items within the shipment through the app itself

    • not only does this address the need to fill out a declaration list of items, it also provides proof of items in the original shipment to address theft of any missing items

  • users can fill out the declaration form through the app

  • the app can serve as a primary forum that users can refer to for concerns, instructions and advice

  • users can follow a provided instruction guide to follow to assure an easy, secure process

Low fidelity sketches—tracking shipment and step-by-step shipping instructions

Low fidelity sketches—tracking shipment and step-by-step shipping instructions

Low fidelity sketches—adding to itemized list and comparing freight services

Low fidelity sketches—adding to itemized list and comparing freight services

—High-Fidelity Prototype

Home screen showing tracking info of user’s current shipment.

Home screen showing tracking info of user’s current shipment.

Step-by-step checklist to help users carry out shipping process.

Step-by-step checklist to help users carry out shipping process.

Filling inventory for the declaration items list required by BOC.

Filling inventory for the declaration items list required by BOC.

Add manually or scan item barcode to add item to inventory.

Add manually or scan item barcode to add item to inventory.

Compare and select local freight services to schedule pickup or drop-off

Compare and select local freight services to schedule pickup or drop-off

End screen after user selects freight service and hits “submit”.

End screen after user selects freight service and hits “submit”.

Mundo workflows—adding to inventory manually, scanning item barcode, selecting freight service, deleting item off inventory, processing a shipment.

Mundo workflows—adding to inventory manually, scanning item barcode, selecting freight service, deleting item off inventory, processing a shipment.

Interact with the prototype of Mundo here on InVision.

—Test and Next Steps

I’ve asked a couple of people to user test this prototype and have received several points of feedback:

  • There were a few “clunky” moments in the flow of adding items to the inventory; for example, users have expressed the possible inconvenience of calculating the total cost of certain items when adding items manually

  • Viewing more detailed customer reviews on freight services would have helped users more in choosing services

  • Two of the users, who have experience with sending balikbayan boxes, are used to talking to freight services in-person or on the phone and have expressed that they were “not used to this”

Referring back to the user flow would be a first step in addressing the “clunkiness” of adding to the inventory. For example, the cost of items could be calculated automatically by the app itself if I were to integrate item suggestions with corresponding prices in a drop-down menu that would appear as users manually type in an item. I would also integrate contact information for each freight service in the “select a shipping service” page so that users who are not used to this system could still choose to contact services verbally.

This is still currently an ongoing personal project as I have not yet prototyped mockups for features such as the Mundo forum in which users can refer to for questions, suggestions, and advice. However, this would also be part of the next steps I would take in taking this project further.