Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Uber wars

Today sees the next round of 'Uber Wars' in London.   Uber is an app which allows you to hail a Cab and know how much it will cost.

If like me you travel frequently between Northern Ireland and London it provides the additional benefit of not having to bring English notes as London Cabbies have a reluctance to accept the Queen's Northern Irish Sterling. 

It also provides an alternative supply source - using Uber doesn't mean you can't also use Black Cabs!

Nevertheless, the Black Cabbies are out in protest today, I think 12,000, through fear of what digital might do to their business model. I've previously discussed Digital Procurement Strategy and how we should embrace it but this is an angle I hadn't touched upon.

It's a strange protest insofar as it has actually pushed people to find out more about their competitor, 
 Uber, and its benefits, I suspect has led to a marked increase in Uber app downloads. I also assume, Uber provides some sort of 'trackable' history which means it may be safer as well as cheaper. Meanwhile Uber stole a mark on the Black Cabs today by adding Black Cabs to their app. I'm not sure how the Cabbies will respond to that.

Will the protest work? Actually I don't think so. The existing dominant provider has signposted to its competitor. There are negligible switching costs, if any. 

To have an impact Black Cabs will need to think smarter in communicating whatever benefits they have and delivering a more customer focussed service - something which is erratic. The previous benefits of 'The Knowledge' may no longer be worth investing in if you have aspirations of being a Cabbie - could Uber become a tool for Black Cabbies too?

Then the protest suffers from too many alternatives available today - a parallel protest with a Tube Strike may have led TfL to revisit its position. It's also a lovely day here in London - walking is fine!

From a commercial point of view, will firms no longer accept Black Cab receipts and ask for evidence that you first tried Uber?

Digital is changing taxis - have you thought how it is changing procurement?

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