With India going through the second wave of the widespread Covid-19 pandemic, while a lot of businesses are still struggling to reclaim the lost momentum, many of them have gotten back on track. Rapido is one such brand that has shown some strong signs of recovery and now with the country reporting all-time high Covid-19 cases, the taxi service provider is geared up to face the challenges. So, in order to understand how the business got affected, the recovery pattern, and how the company plans to deal with the even unprecedented situation, Express Drives recently had an insightful interaction with Shravya Reddy, Vice President, Rapido. Here are the key takeaways from the interview.
Express Drives – What demand is Rapido seeing with Rapido Auto services in the new normal?
Shravya – In the aftermath of the ongoing pandemic, autos have emerged as a preferred way of commuting after bike taxis. There is a growing demand for safe, affordable and accessible rides, and Rapido Autos complete that gap, while also providing a familiarity of experience and standardization of pricing. The highest demand is seen in Hyderabad.
In how many cities Rapido Auto is operational at present and how many Captains are on-boarded so far?
Rapido Auto was launched recently across 25 cities we are present in, with an aim to provide an alternative safe commute option to customers to avail while traveling in this time and we have on-boarded more than 1 lakh Auto Captains so far.
How do you see Rapido Auto growing and which are the cities you plan to focus on this year?
We will continue to focus on making the service available to all cities Rapido is present in and are planning to expand to cities like Bangalore and Kolkata next.
How did you manage the operations of India’s Largest Bike Taxi platform during the lockdown? What steps did you initiate in the first phase to avoid/pivot from loss?
Our bike taxi business came to a complete standstill when the country went into lockdown. Backed by our technology prowess, we realised that we still had the potential to maintain business continuity to support the livelihoods of people dependent on Rapido like our Captains and employees. By pivoting our focus on accelerating our existing logistics business model, we introduced the following initiatives:
Essentials at home: Rapido has been operating delivery services for e-commerce companies for close to 2 years now namely Zomato, Swiggy, Delhivery.com, Myntra, Eat.Fit. SuprDaily, Mapprr, 24*7 Stores, Kalerya, Bharatpe. During lockdown due to COVID 19 pandemic, we accelerated the existing Rapido-Delivery services to provide for the delivery of essential goods and partnered with major online companies like Big Bazaar, Big Basket and Spencer’s for delivery of essential goods.
Supporting state governments: We supported the Delhi Government in delivering essentials items like milk and food packets, under the DCPC Node, in underprivileged areas across the city. Additionally, we also partnered with Bruhat Bengaluru MahanagaraPalike’s (Karnataka Government) COVID-19 Home Delivery Helpline as a delivery service partner in a move to resolve supply-chain challenges amidst lockdown.
New Services Launched: The lockdown brought mobility to a standstill with restraints in everyday commuting for Indians all across. To ensure a quick, safe and cost-effective exchange of essentials amongst users in these challenging times, we extended our logistics offers and launched Rapido Local, a person-to-person delivery service. Where customers can request pick up and drop of food, groceries and medicine on the App, from or to another customer. Post unlock we launched Rapido Store, a one-stop solution for all business deliveries. Rapido Store, as a service, is a convenient tool for offline and online businesses to help them reach out and deliver products to their customers in these challenging times. People were hesitant to step outside and thus, relied more and more on such delivery services to complete their daily chores.
Ensuring Safety Measures: We recently introduced Rapido Safety Shields, a first-of-its-kind safety measure program by a bike taxi player in the country, to further increase the safety aspect of using bike taxis during this ongoing pandemic. The Rapido Safety Shield, which weighs around 400 gms, is a lightweight, PVC board that is attached to the Captain’s back like a rucksack. The shield covers the Captain’s body and makes for a considerable distance between the customer and our Captain. Apart from the usual measures, like using masks, sanitizers, and the Arogya Setu App, that we have taken, we felt the Safety Shields will be an added measure of safety during the ride.
What are the trends you see in the three-wheeler market that will support the Auto business?
Auto service is already an existing market, but commuters have to face challenges like haggling for ride fares or look for a ride outside the safety of their homes. And while the auto service industry is highly penetrated, it has only 5% of its existing market online. With the markets slowly opening up in the midst of the pandemic, auto drivers have witnessed a change in the behavior of the Customers as everyone is looking for limited interactions with others. This trend has led to the rampant increase in the demand of our Auto business as well as leading to onboarding Auto Captains who are looking for daily rides through an online platform.
Can you share Pre-COVID vs post-COVID level data for rides, for both auto and bike taxi services?
Rapido Auto was launched post-pandemic as an alternate option for safe, daily commute for commuters. We have crossed 1 Million Rides within 5 months of operation which speaks to the demand and need of the service in the market. Pre-COVID, we were doing 0.5 million Bike Taxi Rides daily. We have now recovered 75% of Pre-COVID levels, overall. There are some cities like Delhi and Guwahati where our recovery rate is 100%.
Are you prepared for the ongoing second wave of COVID-19? If yes, how?
Last year when the pandemic hit, it was an unprecedented situation for many businesses as we were not prepared to face a pandemic rising to such scales, leading shutting down of countries. But with time, we figured out a way to overcome our fear and build the business in a way that we have stayed relevant and maintained continuity. So, the learnings from this will certainly stay with us for the times to come and we expect only to grow more from here.
We have implemented innovative safety measures like our Rapido Safety Shields, a first-of-its-kind safety measure program by a bike taxi player in the country, to further increase the safety aspect of using bike taxis during this ongoing pandemic. Apart from the usual measures, like using masks, sanitizers, and the Arogya Setu App, that we have taken, we felt the Safety Shields will be an added measure of safety during the rides.
We are trying to help change consumer behaviour towards safety and make it the new normal, by helping them embrace the new norms through best practices when it comes to precautions, like bringing their own helmet, sanitizing hands, wearing a face mask. While we are prepared from our learnings of last year, we also believe in education and continuous training for our Captains and customers to fight the current and next wave of Covid-19.
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