TAKING MOBILITY TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Online banking and shopping are now widespread and well-established. Digitalisation continues to become more and more a part of everyday life. However, digital mobility is still in its infancy. This might be about to change, as was shown at the BIKE BIZ REVOLUTION conference prior to the EUROBIKE show.
Due to the shortage of parking spaces and high volume of traffic, urban car ownership is now becoming less of a status symbol and more of a luxury item. Car sharing schemes are becoming increasingly popular and mobility apps, such as Blablacar, are enjoying growing numbers of users. As a result, Thomas Sauter-Serveas from the University of Applied Sciences in Zurich argues that:
The car is becoming an appendage of the smartphone.
He sees mobility as becoming more and more digital – in particular on mobility exchange platforms – and cites the example of “Reach Now” by Daimler and the BMW Group. The two car manufacturers are combining forces to implement their vision of a “new mobility for all”.
Users can now choose which offer best meets their needs to move quickly from A to B on their urban journey. Whether public transport, care hire, bike rental, e-scooter or finding a parking spot – in future it will possible to choose from various mobility options worldwide. Customers will book and pay for services directly via an app. Providing a one-stop service is particularly important to ensure the success of the system, says Thomas Sauter-Serveas. Instead of working through different apps from individual mobility providers, users want to access everything through one platform. The transport research expert sees this as the “Spotifyication of transport” and draws a parallel with the internationally successful music streaming service. Users are spontaneously selecting the mode that best meets their requirements – and are becoming more efficient in how they use transport. This, in turn, is attracting new mobility providers to the market. Google, Apple and Facebook have the customer data to be able to quickly suggest suitable options. “Today Uber knows more about transport behaviour than Andreas Scheuer, the German Minister of Transport,” says Peter Post from creative agency Scholz & Volkmer. As a result, cars in future will look completely different to today and bikes might change a great deal too. “People will stop buying products and booking mobility options instead,” concludes Thomas Sauter-Serveas.
An example of what that might look like in the bike sector is already available with Swapfiets. The company from the Netherlands invented a new portmanteau word combining ‘swap’ with ‘fiet’ – the Dutch word for ‘bike’. Swapfiets started just one-and-a-half years ago with a bicycle subscription system and now has over 100,000 customers. The distinctive bikes with their blue front wheels are available in 21 cities across Germany – and demand is growing.
We don’t sell bikes – we sell service
The range of bikes is secondary. Swapfiets has only two models and most shops just offer one bike. The priority is on giving customers mobility, not selling bikes. If there is a problem with your bike, the bike provider promises to repair it or offer a replacement. Information Technology data is essential for the user profiles. By starting right from the customer doorstep, Swapfiets is providing a personalised service.
The success story serves as a good example of how start-ups can establish themselves in the digital sector. By tearing up the rulebook and breaking away from existing structures, they are free to pursue and implement their own ideas. Rapid growth sometimes quickly leads to a strong market position, which is often further reinforced by effective lobbying. The resulting market domination is the point where things get more difficult, explains Peter Post: “You start to make mistakes. This is the reason why, for example, so many Google projects have folded.” Nevertheless, the agency director sees the digital bike as important as it will also shape the infrastructure of the future, among other things. For example, cyclists can now report risks and hazards to riders directly via apps to their respective local authorities to actively improve the cycle network.
Peter Post and his team are also involved in a further digitalisation project. Together with EUROBIKE, they have created the EUROBIKE CONNECT platform, which goes live in October. It offers a unique online network for the bike industry, where people and companies can interact and make contacts.
With EUROBIKE CONNECT we want to create a new platform that enables suppliers and manufacturers to meet up and exchange ideas the whole year round
As with all effective digitalisation services, it focuses clearly on the individual, who gets a user-friendly tool that meets their exact needs and requirements.