Ridesharing platforms such as Uber and Lyft have become major disruptors in public transportation, and one company wants to leverage their popularity to offer passengers products such as phone chargers, beauty products and M&Ms while in transit.
Cargo Systems recently launched Cargo in New York and Boston. The company has access to Uber’s Driver API and gives preferred access to drivers who sign up using their Uber profile. Drivers in other ridesharing programs such as Lyft can join as well.
“We can work directly with brands and provide products that are really suitable for people as they’re on the go,” said Sabina Rahaman, Director of Brand Partnerships at Cargo in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “They fit regular needs for the average person. Think about the amount of times you’ve been low on battery, or you needed some gum after a late lunch, or you needed a snack after a long flight and you’re coming home from the airport. In those moments, there’s an opportunity for us to serve consumers in a way that isn’t really being done right now.”
The Cargo team identified specific “need states” such as snacking, replenishment or charging, which helped provided a guideline to understanding the type of companies to partner with. Cargo has exclusively collaborated with CPG brands such as Mars, Kellogg’s, Michel et Augustin, Emergency Stain Rescue and Leaders Cosmetics USA to power the ridesharing experience.
Additionally, the company seeks to use the service as a platform for product discovery. For example, Cargo introduced sample complimentary full-size Labotica Green Tea Skin Soft Masks from Leaders Cosmetics USA as part of its offering. While these masks may appear to be a quirky throw-in to the product mix, they can connect a brand with a completely new audience.
“When you’re in a car and it’s idle time, you’re often just sitting there staring and gazing out the window or you’re on your phone,” Rahaman said. “It’s an opportunity to us to engage with cool brands, bring new products into the mix and have riders discover them while they’re on the go. That discovery platform is where Leaders came in, and they’ve fit in well because it’s a great product that’s trending right now. They are just focused on getting more people to try their product and driving more brand awareness.”
Cargo is willing to branch out into new categories — the company recently introduced Blowfish effervescent hangover remedy tablets into its offering —if they feel the product fits a unique customer need.
Payment Is Easy, And App-Free
Riders in Cargo-equipped ridesharing cars can order various products through a simple process on their mobile phone:
Visit www.cargo.menu on their phones and enter the unique code on their driver’s Cargo box;
Select a product from the menu; and
Enter credit card or mobile payment information and check out;
The driver receives a notification for the order and hands the product to the passenger once the car is completely stopped.
Drivers Get Free Products, Extra Income
Drivers can carry various objects within a custom Cargo-labeled display equipped with USB charge ports, and place orders through Cargo’s mobile site when they run out. Cargo’s proprietary inventory management system tracks all drivers’ orders in real time, and automatically ships replenishment products directly to their homes. Cargo provides all hardware and products to drivers for free.
The drivers also get the benefit of earning supplemental income — and even possibly improving their ratings.Cargo pays $.50 for every item a driver hands out, with a $10 bonus after 10 items sold per week and a $50 bonus after 100 items sold per month.
Within the next year, Cargo is planning to increase its presence across major markets, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and the southern U.S. Thousands of drivers have signed up for the program in 47 states in anticipation of national expansion.“
We basically decide what the next big market is based on driver signups,” Rahaman said. “Where the demand is highest is where we start prioritizing next.”