San Fransisco-headquartered Tax hailing company Uber has been considering the possibility of allowing users to book cabs without the app. After breaking their own traditions and introducing cash payment system in India, Uber is also on its way to experimenting various options such as usage of social media platforms like WhatsApp to book cabs.
Economic Times reports a conversation Uber's head of engineering Apurva Dalal, who said that the company’s R&D centre in Bengaluru is currently working on this project. "In India and in other emerging markets, the application is not the only way to get an Uber, there are other ways in which we communicate in India - we call, we SMS, we WhatsApp," said Dalal.
"We are looking at all these areas -be it people who don't want to download the app, who want to download the app but it has to be very light for them, people who are in poor network areas, and channels outside the app itself be it SMSs, chats, social media, etc," he said as reported by Economic Times.
The Indian market is largest after the US for Uber and it seems the move may be a way for them to dig deeper into the market. Uber’s biggest rival Ola had earlier introduced a method for offline booking by sending the location of the user via SMS.
Responding to Ola, in the past one year, Uber has rolled out several features that are specific to India, such as cash payments, Dial an Uber and call centre support for drivers. According to Uber, the response to "Dial an Uber has been quite positive, especially in tier-II cities, where users with feature phones or limited data connectivity have used the service more frequently".
Economic Times also reported Jaspal Singh, a partner at Valoriser Consultants, as saying “In India, if you really want to capture the bigger market then you have to increase your touch points with the customer instead of having one traditional mode of booking. The more touch points you will have, the more bookings you will get.”
However, Uber is looking to maximise its approach by booking through social media platforms like WhatsApp. "WhatsApp is certainly very ubiquitous, so we are asking, is there a way to do something through any of these chatting channels or social network where they can book a ride directly," Dalal was quoted as saying by Economic Times.