Dimeji Timothy is the Business Development Representative, inDrive. In this interview with journalists in Lagos, he speaks on how inDrive has taken advantage of data to cater to drivers and users, navigated the dynamic problems in the ecosystem, tapped into emerging opportunities, and rolled out models to stay competitive. Abubakar Ibrahim brings excerpts.
How significant is the power of data in the ride-hailing business?
Data serve as a guiding beacon in the realm of ride-hailing, just as it does in various other industries. As we strive to deliver justice and fairness, it is crucial to comprehend the desires of our users. We understand what people consider fair through data, not merely through intuition. It is not just a matter of emotions; it revolves around their actions and how they perceive fairness. The available data assist us in charting the course on how to provide these values.
Mobility is an inherent characteristic of human beings. As living creatures, we need to move from one place to another. By leveraging data, we are well-informed about delivering justice to an aspect that impacts each and every one of us. As I mentioned earlier, this approach serves as a means through which we achieve justice.
Given the growing level of smartphone adoption in Nigeria and the increasing youth population, how well can ride-hailing companies such as inDrive take advantage of the data?
Utilising data is key to enhancing the quality of the products we provide. As underscored during the presentation, the assumption that cities within a country share common traits should not deter us from leveraging available data to refine our products. It is critical that we depend primarily on data to elevate the quality of our offerings.
This is a fundamental principle we adhere to, employing available data to enhance our product development process and customize solutions. More specifically, this involves examining the models we have on offer. At present, we provide a range of modules including courier, cargo, freight, and ride-hailing services.
The use of data significantly shapes these offerings; it guides the manner in which we deploy them, the demographic we cater to, and the target audiences we identify. All these decisions are driven by the data at hand. Therefore, these product enhancements are strategies we employ to harness data effectively for our ride-hailing services.
How well is inDrive leveraging data to gain insight into consumers’ demands and behavior?
Data aren’t just an engine that powers our business operations and optimizes efficiency. It’s a compass, guiding us to better serve our customers with solutions that boost their satisfaction and loyalty. We’re not merely chasing metrics; we’re pioneering an understanding-based business model, one where data help us listen, respond, and adapt to our customers’ needs.
Our users’ satisfaction isn’t just a promising business opportunity—it’s a necessity, a clarion call from the communities we serve. As a people-centered business, we’re deeply committed to addressing this demand. We leverage data insights to tailor our offerings to local contexts. For instance, using Pidgin in Nigeria and Swahili in Tanzania has significantly improved communication with our customers and deepened our market penetration. Our rebranding in Q4 2022, overwhelmingly embraced by our users, bears testament to this success.
Yet, we understand the uniqueness of each market—no blanket strategy fits all. Our data analysis reveals the subtleties of each region. For instance, while Swahili resonates in Tanzania, English is preferred in Kenya. This granular understanding of customer preferences allows us to tailor our operations accordingly, heightening customer satisfaction.
Moreover, data drive our innovation. It illuminates patterns and habits, unearthing untapped opportunities. Recognising the frequent use of our cars for package delivery was one such data revelation. This insight paved the way for a new business vertical, leading to the launch of our courier service.
Looking forward, with the burgeoning E-commerce sector, we identify a substantial demand for enhanced mobility solutions. Our ride-hailing services, informed by our data insights, are primed to cater to this need. As long as trade and commerce continue evolving in the ‘E-way’, we’re committed to leveraging the opportunities that lie in wait, ensuring we stay at the cutting edge of service and innovation.
So, for us at inDrive, data is more than numbers. It’s our guide to better serve our users, innovate our offerings, and continually adapt to an ever-changing market landscape. We remain dedicated to utilising these insights, not just to fuel our growth, but to foster connections, meet demands, and, above all, satisfy our beloved customers.
What competitive advantage does inDrive have over competition in the ride-hailing ecosystem?
Our competitive edge in the industry is predominantly driven by our unique customer-centric approach. Distinct from all other operators in the sector, we empower both passengers and drivers to take control of their rides. It’s the passenger who proposes the price initially, but the driver can negotiate, ensuring the final price is a fair deal for both parties. We stand out in the market with this pricing model that sets aside algorithmic calculations, creating a tailored, and fair experience.
Moreover, we maintain a non-intrusive stance when it comes to pricing. We respect the driver-passenger dynamic and don’t interfere with the price setting, regarding it as a personal matter between the two parties. This approach underlines our commitment to valuing individual preferences and negotiation skills.
Another significant competitive advantage is our highly competitive service fee. Unlike our competitors who charge around 18-25 percent, our maximum service fee is only 9.99 percent, exclusive of VAT. This lower fee enables our drivers to take home a larger share of their earnings, contributing to their job satisfaction and motivation.
Our commitment to fairness and empowerment doesn’t change even in the face of uncontrollable variables such as weather or traffic. With us, the price you agree to at the start of the ride is what you pay at the end of the ride, enhancing the predictability and transparency of our service.
In essence, our unique, people-first model positions us distinctively in the marketplace. By empowering our drivers and passengers to negotiate terms, we ensure a mutually beneficial, fair, and satisfactory riding experience. It’s these innovative practices that set us apart from our competition.
What are the challenges faced in the ride-hailing ecosystem in Nigeria?
The fluctuations and unpredictability inherent to the market we operate in, coupled with the economic influences involved, make a significant impact, down to even the smallest details. For instance, consider the challenges faced by the supply side such as the cost of fuel. In Lagos, we are presently witnessing a drastic increase in fuel costs, soaring from N185 per litre to nearly N500, with different rates being applied across the nation.
These substantial challenges will undeniably affect our operational modules and ultimately, the consumers whom we aim to serve. Additionally, environmental conditions and the ease of conducting business are significant factors to consider.
Despite these hurdles, our business model remains robust, having demonstrated considerable market fit across various markets and weathered numerous storms. However, it’s impossible to ignore the distinct characteristics of each market. The economic factors, particularly in Nigeria, though not as pronounced globally, significantly influence the market fit of our product in different markets. These factors are seemingly minor when compared to the broader economic context, yet they undeniably affect the market fit of our product.