Bianca always wanted to be a writer - to craft fantastic stories or to be a professor at an Ivy League university. But since life decided that wasn't the path she should take, she yelled "PLOT TWIST" and became a communication professional, having the chance to work with challenging projects. She enjoys it, nonetheless, but still believes there is a huge need for dragons.
We are given the opportunity to live in exquisite, revolutionising times. From smart assistants to mobility, everything is reinventing. Especially the latter, in big cities, where traffic seems to be in a perpetual stage of congestions. We are talking about ride sharing apps, such as Uber, Taxify, Didi or Lyft, who offer you the opportunity to take out your phone and request a ride.
However, the road to innovation was not easy. We all know the giants of ride sharing apps had to fight countless challenges to survive and grow, from the legal battles with the local administrations, the fierce competition among them to market grabbing, to the pressures from the old players in city transportation solutions – especially the taxi companies, trying to reinvent themselves in order to be on top.
Yet, in the past year, the incumbent ride sharing apps started facing another serious challenge from a surprising alternative in mobility: electric scooters. Why use cars when you can take an e-scooter from point A to B? This seems to be the right choice, especially in cities with exploding density, where you have to leave early to make sure you will be on time.
Later, we will explore how this new wave of transportation is influencing the very business model of the ride sharing businesses.
Ride Sharing Apps: whim or necessity?
When it comes to how many people use ride sharing apps, the numbers do not reach half of the population, with one exception. According to a survey conducted by Dalia Research in 2017, less than 40% used them in Europe, 30% in US and 50% in Asia. Coming to think about it, the numbers are not incredibly high, although maybe everyone we know is or have used at some point a ride sharing app. For instance, the average American spends around $4,000 a year on hail rides. Suffice to say this is a high amount.
However, from a practical point of view, we can perceive ride sharing apps beneficial and there is a real reason why they are on a rise. For instance:
- Owning a car is expensive. This study made by the Dealroom says that the average European spends around $1.1 trillions on mobility, out of which 56% is on fuel and maintenance. Also, not to mention the lack of parking spots and the concerns about exhaust emissions.
- Ride shares are a safer solution. When people get hired for a ride sharing company, they get a full background check. However, even with this, the media has presented a few cases of rapes, murders and other issues.
- It can be a great alternative source of income.
- No more drunk driving – now there is the opportunity to find a ride home, at the tip of your fingers.
To conclude, we can say they seem to be quite the necessity. Therefore, let’s get down to business and see what the most used ride sharing apps look like.
The basic components of a ride sharing app
In the past 10 years, ride sharing apps businesses have become billion-valuable companies. For instance, Uber is valued at $60 billion, Lyft $15.1 billion, Taxify $1 billion and Didi, the largest ride-hailing business in China was valued at $50 billion in the past year.
What’s interesting about the aforementioned businesses is the fact that they all have something in common – and that is the main tool of their business: the app. All of them have two different types of apps to use, one for riders and one for drivers. Now, let’s take them apart and see what the main components of each.
Rider’s app or in other words the one used for hailing contains these features:
- Registration based on personal phone number and e-mail
- Payment method – both for personal or business use
- Location tracking to find nearby cars
- Pickup & Destination location
- Map view – to see available cars nearby
- Price range estimate
- Ride requesting
- Driver communication tool – chat, notification or call.
- Trip status & current location, with sharing possibility
- Automated payments on arrival
- Ride history tab
- Discounts & other promoting tools
The other end is the driver’s application, which usually contains the following features:
- Personal account based on e-mail address and phone number
- Driver validation: Licenses, Interviews or other screening methods
- Live Ride Requests
- Location tracking – recommending the closest requested rides
- Map view – to get around the city and estimate the arrival times
- Ride status updates
- Rides history
- Financial management
- Vehicle management
What sets them apart?
We are aware they have the same pattern and way of working, but we all know that any business that launches on the market has their own unique value proposition, tailored for their target niche. Therefore, let’s see how do they set apart:
- Uber has different types of cars, such as UberX, UberPool, UberXL, UberSUV, UberSelect, UberBlack and UberLUX. You can find more about each one of them here.
- Taxify also has a business option, where you can ride from the most affordable vehicle to top-notch luxury ones.
- Lyft launched the all-access plan and the round-up and donate tab.
- Shebah makes a difference with the fact that all their drivers are female, ensuring this way that the travels are safe for women and children.
- Didi uses Big Data, cloud computing and AI to algorithms to maximise traffic capacity.
E-scooters: the bright future of ride sharing apps?
We mentioned at the beginning of the article that e-scooters seem like the best alternative of bulky vehicles, stuck in continuous traffic congestions. We have heard of many startups that got notoriety, such as Bird, Lime, Skip, Spin, Scoot and Ride – which are electric scooter-rental services. You have probably seen their vehicles buzzing along city streets, around the world.
You may be wondering, why scooters. Well, there are a few reasons.
- They’re electric. This means no noxious fumes, hence not harming the environment.
- They’re cheap. Cheaper than grabbing a cab or another ride-hailing service. They cost less than $3 per ride.
- They’re easy to get-to. You see, traffic jams in huge cities are a reality. Most of the time you have to get going in time to make sure you’ll be there when the meeting is due. Fortunately, in cities that have bike lanes, e-scooters make your trip faster. No jam, no hassle.
- Are easy to dispose. When choosing a bike as a mean of traveling, you have to dock it. Not necessarily with the e-scooters, though. You use them and leave them when you reached the destination, somewhere it doesn’t block the traffic. Then, another user finds it, uses it and so on. Although, there are some apps that require you to leave the scooter next to a bike rack.
But, enough chit-chat from our side. Let’s walk you through how an e-scooter ride sharing app looks like.
- Registration account based on phone number & e-mail
- Onboarding screen
- Payment method
- Nearby available rides. What’s best is that you can see the charged percentage of the scooters
- Bluetooth unlocking
- Safe disposal
- Few minutes reservation
- You can also register yourself as charger – to track scooters through GPS, collect a dozen of them, take them home to charge and then return them on the streets.
Developing an e-scooter ride sharing app
This year, we had the pleasure to develop an Australian e-scooter ride sharing app, called Ride.
The app was developed in native iOS and Android, where there used technologies such as Stripe, Twilio and NFC. User-wise was developed to be used by riders, chargers and admins. As other features, you can find the scooter through the app on map, you can ring it and you can unlock it through bluetooth. It also gives you the opportunity to reserve a scooter for a half of hour.
Until now, Ride had two stores updates, 115 scooters 258 active users in the first 28 days, 300 rides, 180 oficial riders and 6 charges.
On short, the development went pretty smoothly, the main challenges being 3rd parties involved, short time for the go-to market and the lack of scooters for testing. But since our Product Manager had plenty of experience in working on IoT related apps, she made sure everything goes well.
What to expect when planning on developing a ride sharing app?
Before you decide “yes, this is what I’m going to do, I’m going to be the next [insert famous ridesharing company]”, there are some things you have to take into account, such as:
Who your target is. There are several opportunities to choose from, so to whom would you like to address your product? For instance, Shebah, a ride sharing app from Australia focuses on hiring women-only drivers, hence targeting women and children as their sole niche.
How will the product stand out in front of the alternatives? What will it make it special? Why should a veteran of ride sharing apps pick yours instead of one of the aforementioned? Will it be cheaper? Will it have drivers who own a certain type of car?
What user value would your product bring? Safetiness? Environment-friendly?
Find your marketing strategy and your unique selling proposition and focus on it
Create the appropriate business model for your app.
Look into the most appropriate monetisation.
Look into the legal requirements when it comes to launching such a business
And last, make sure to look for a product partner who can help you with the development process of the app, in case you don’t have a technical team. In case you are uncertain of the first mentioned things, such as target, user value and so on, make sure you
Find a product partner who can help you either with the whole development process, in case you don’t have a technical team or with the Product Definition Phase, in case you are not sure about the first 6 questions.
These being said.
Do you plan on developing a ride sharing app?