It’s just over a year since Dubai-based car hire company Indigo Rent-A-Car launched its revolutionary mobile application which facilitates GPS-tracked car rental delivery right to your doorstep within an hour of booking your chosen vehicle through the platform.
It’s an innovative concept which joins the recent explosion of tech-based innovations to traditional businesses such as food delivery, taxi hire and holiday home rentals and, with Indigo already among the most affordable car hire firms in the UAE, there is the enticing added bonus of a one-day car rental completely free of charge for everyone who downloads the app.
We caught up with Indigo’s entrepreneurial CEO Khizer Ayub to find out how the platform has affected the business, how it has been received in the UAE market, and what the future holds….
SFME: You became the first car rental company in the region to offer rent-a-cars delivered directly to a customer’s door through the Indigo app last year. How has this revolutionary move affected your business in this tough market?
Khizer Ayub: It’s been a very tough market for products or services that are not at par with consumers’ expectations, which are growing to greater levels each day. As far as Indigo rent-a-car is concerned, I think we invested into technology at the right time. We’ve enjoyed early mover’s advantage and are still continuing to do so. None of the big names are even remotely close to the services we deliver and hence we do have a comfortable space to capture this growing market. We have seen a phenomenal 100% growth on a monthly basis in new customer acquisitions. It gets us all excited and motivated to see such immense interest pouring in from our consumers who love the ease of booking. Ease of booking clubbed with superb offers is the key to our success.
SFME: What teething problems have there been for you along the way and how have you managed to resolve them?
KA: Down the road we used a lot of customer feedback to improve the service. We always wanted to create a seamless process of booking for the customer and we reduced the number of taps required to make a booking. We also introduced a ‘walk through’ experience where you don’t have to tap your way to the next step but the next step comes to you or pops up to take you further. Customers usage of our app increased and frequency of booking improved. They can even view the current location of the driver while awaiting delivery or collection. Moreover, our customer happiness ratio significantly increased because now if the car booked isn’t available, they get an upgrade immediately!
SFME: Amazon is the world leader in online delivery and they have forged their reputation through excellent customer service. The same could be said with the likes of Deliveroo, Uber etc. If a customer uses these platforms and has a bad experience, they’re unlikely to use it again. How crucial is it for Indigo to match the convenience that comes with the delivery and collection service, with a high level of customer service?
KA: Actually, our service starts where the services of Amazon and Deliveroo end. Their typical transaction would end when they deliver a product, ours start when we deliver a car. A car can potentially have an accident, it could require roadside assistance. We are introducing roadside assistance features into our app. The customer won’t have to call us, it will all be on the app and the customer can even track the progress of the roadside assistance team. We live in a smart city and I always look up to the government and the way they’re improving themselves. Just the ease with which one can register an accident on roads of Dubai is a classic example to validate my point. If we in the private sector don’t catch up to it, we won’t be customers’ preference.
SFME: When you launched the delivery service, the time from the customer ordering the car to it arriving at their door was 90 minutes. Have you managed to cut this down in any areas of the city and is there a target time you would like to reach?
KA: The first benchmark of 90 minutes was a task in itself. There was no such standard or benchmark available in the market so we created one for ourselves and that was our starting point. In the next phase we reduced it to 60 minutes for areas close to our branches within 6 kms radius and we’ve achieved that as well. Now we are targeting 40 minutes for areas within 6 kms of our branches or distribution centres. Ultimately, it will have to come down to under 30 minutes.
SFME: From a cost perspective, how does your rental delivery service compare to taxi prices and also what is the additional cost for the delivery and collection of the cars?
KA: In terms of cost, nothing beats us. The cost of a 24-hour self-drive car rental is usually less than the average transaction cost of a ride hailing service. When we deliver it at the customer’s doorstep in 60 minutes it gives us an extra edge in the consumer’s mind. So as long as someone has a valid driving license we would be their preferred choice to save cost. If you need a car for longer than 30 minutes you’d be better of using a self-drive car rental service as their price for 24 hours would be almost similar. It gives you the added comfort of having the car for a longer period at the same price. Add to that our delivery feature when it comes to your doorstep and it’s extremely convenient, in fact more convenient than hailing a taxi. The delivery cost is very nominal at AED 33 per instance and it is waived the booking is for 10 or more days.
SFME: Do you offer any incentives for people who download and use the Indigo app?
KA: Yes absolutely, if you download the app you get a car of your choice absolutely free for one day. No blackout dates, no strings attached – one day, one car, absolutely free. If you refer a customer, he gets a car for free and once he uses his free service you get a day credited to your account to be used on any car of your choice. Other than this we have flash sales as well. We have been able to create demand by enticing our customers from our offers when it didn’t really exist. A solid offer does that, it alters customers’ decisions. We have no hidden charges, no gimmicks, if we say we will give you a car for free it is free. It has created a strong buzz for us. We’ve serviced over 100,000 bookings so far and have created over 20,000 users for ourselves in this process. These 20,000 are just through the app since our launch and are an addition to our existing database that we already had.
SFME: How useful is the mobile app platform for enabling you to communicate with your customers and do you use this to offer special offers and discounts to users in the same way that Uber and Careem do?
KA: It’s revolutionary. I don’t have words to describe how amazing it is. It has surpassed all conventional means of mass marketing we’ve used in the past. Email, sms, post engagements etc. It’s all topped by one notification, it has the best CTA and because the customer can act on it right there and then it delivers results which are phenomenal.
SFME: What are your plans for the app in the future. You’re currently operating throughout the UAE – do you have any expansion plans?
KA: Yes we do absolutely. The UAE was our pilot project. It is the most adaptive market in terms of technology so it made all the sense in the world to start from the UAE. Now we have the model set and we can place it in any other market. We are working with a few partners in the Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi markets. By the end of this year we plan to be available in each of these markets, InshAllah. We are also planning to establish a unit in the Far East. I love the world we live in, technology has made everything limitless and that’s what excites me and drives me every day. If we keep innovating… even sky is not the limit.
DOWNLOAD THE INDIGO RENT A CAR APP IN APPLE STORE OR GOOGLE PLAY AND GET 1 DAY OF CAR HIRE ABSOLUTELY FREE!