mobility applications

Mobility Applications are Helping Travelers Ride for Free

What if mobile shopping on your commute to work could help you ride for free? By using artificial intelligence built into mobility applications, infotainment systems, and loyalty programs, your next free ride could be a few clicks away.

It’s the thorn in the side of many employees around the world: the daily commute. This time spent traveling to work really adds up in the Bay Area, across the United States, and around the world1. To give you an idea of the length of these journeys, here are a few examples2:

  • London, United Kingdom: 84 minutes
  • Los Angeles, California: 86 minutes
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 95 minutes

It’s not all a waste, though. For people who travel by bus, train, light rail, or ride-hailing service, this free time does have its benefits. Some workers might spend it responding to emails or setting goals for the day. Others might read through business-related news or tune in to their favorite podcast. And others, still, stay productive by getting their online shopping done. Clothes, shoes, groceries – you name it.

The industry known as “commuter commerce” is bridging the gap between mobility and e-commerce. It represents a potential $230 billion opportunity and startups such as Enroute are leading the charge3.

“It’s a smart wallet installed in existing mobility apps, whether ride-hailing or mass-transit. It allows people to shop on their favorite apps or sites, and every product that they purchase decreases the amount they have to pay until their ride is free,” describes Aviv Frenkel, CEO of Enroute.

More Transportation Data, More Personalized Rides

Founded in 2018, Enroute prides itself as a personalized commerce platform. But, it takes a ton of data for the company to understand the right product to send to the right rider at the right time. That becomes critical for consumers who are, more and more, shopping on smartphones and tablets. In fact, mobile commerce is projected to make up nearly 45% of all e-commerce sales in just the United States in 20194.

Enroute founders Aviv Frenkel and Sagi Levanon pose for a photo.

“The data that we analyze, first of all, is the context of the ride: time of day, weather, mode of transportation, destination, and day of the week. Personalization is key,” Aviv Frenkel explains.

In a typical commute, there are many data points to consider. Not just where you start and where you finish, either. There are also personal data – anonymized to gauge a rider’s interests, demographics, behavior and more. By using cloud-based machine learning, Enroute is able to understand and organize commuter data to help match unique passenger profiles with specific product offerings.

Fine-Tuning Mobility Applications for Passenger Experience

So, what does creating personalized shopping experiences for commuters look like in practice? The Israeli-based company partnered with the largest railway company in Germany5, responsible for transporting over 4.6 billion passengers in 20186. To fill their platform with products commuters might love, Enroute worked with a suite of popular retailer partners.

Enroute’s strategy was to offer ride credits for travelers on select routes who shopped on their platform. This trial run brought together three important datasets: consumer spending habits, transportation patterns, and shopping preferences. By pulling insights from this data, the startup found a way to turn commuting into an active, incentivized experience.

“We bridge this golden triangle of data to know your mobility habits, your location preferences – anonymously, of course – and your shopping preferences,” says Aviv Frenkel.

A Win-Win-Win for Passengers, Retailers, and Mobility Companies

The mobility industry continues to transform with ride-hailing services, connected cars, autonomous vehicles, and more. Data is playing an important role for industry players to discover and act on new business opportunities. The two biggest benefits are the opportunity to grow revenue and build customer loyalty.

“For mobility companies, we are offering a new revenue stream, loyalty, and lots of data. For retailers, we allow access to passengers in the time of mobility. And, for passengers, well, you can ride for free,” Aviv Frenkel shares the benefits that Enroute offers.

Dr. Andreas Hamprecht, CIO of Germany’s largest rail company and Aviv Frenkel at the main train station in Berlin; Photo Credit: Boaz Arad

Online retailers can offer contextually relevant shopping offers to commuters, which can sell more products and keep people coming back for more. Travelers can earn ride credits that decrease the cost of their travel, while taking care of necessary shopping. It’s almost like getting a reward for doing your chores.

Location-Based Mobile Commerce and Beyond

As your commute takes you through towns, cities, or suburbs, data could expand the possibilities for your mobile spending. Perhaps, you indicate in Enroute that you are in need of new workout clothes. As you travel, you pass by a local athletic apparel store. Using predictive AI, a shopping offer for products in that shop could be pushed to your phone and order placed and prepared for pickup.

As riders pass by local stores, mobile shopping offers for these shops could lower the cost of their trip.

But, why stop at just location-based shopping? Aviv sees his company as a digital platform for service providers to engage with commuters. Imagine getting ride credits for watching a video trailer of an upcoming blockbuster movie. Or cutting down the cost of your commute by renewing your automotive insurance, ordering a refill of prescription medications, or managing finances through mobile banking apps.

Shopping to ride for free: an ideal blend of commerce and travel. With platforms such as Enroute, the dreaded commute might just become the most productive part of people’s day.

“We started purely in e-commerce, but the next phase is location-based shopping,” Aviv begins. “Imagine you’re traveling back home. We tap into inventories of existing locations next to your destination to enable you to shop in mobility, ride for free, and collect the item when you get to your destination.”

What Could the Future of Mobility Look Like? We Explore Below

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