After an influx of investors turned the rental scooter market into a multibillion-dollar industry, startups in the space are clamoring for capital and customer loyalty. Players like Bird, Juice Bike and Spin are all revamping their approaches to user design and comfort in a world where loyalty can be hard to win.
Rental scooter services offer many benefits for consumers in busy cities, and chief among them are low prices. Most startups in the space charge from a few cents to less than a dollar per minute for scooter rides. But with cost no longer a major differentiator between rental scooter companies, many are turning to new tactics to lure customers.
One such industry player is Lime, which is now valued at more than $2 billion thanks to a recent rush of capital. Lime Senior Director of Business Development Ryan Foutty told PYMNTS that it works to earn users by focusing on personalization and customization. That often means the company must support multiple payment methods and offer bespoke features to meet customers’ varied needs. Options, Foutty said, are key for Lime when it comes to payments and customer experiences.
“It’s a very collaborative approach, and very much a local approach in terms of what works best in that market,” he said.
Keeping Payments Invisible While Enhancing Mobile Features
The rental scooter market is quickly expanding, but it’s experiencing growing pains, too. Today’s consumers are mobile-savvy, and they’re quick drop services that saddle them with clunky experiences.
This reality has made Lime focus on offering smooth services, and has been central to its product strategy as it built its mobile platform. Foutty said the company’s mobile app allows customers to sign up within minutes, meaning their initial payments experiences must be smooth regardless of which methods they use.
Lime’s effort to consistently improve and upgrade its riders’ experiences has been instrumental in its decision to accept and experiment with multiple payment options, Foutty said. The company has seemingly taken a DIY approach by developing its own scooters and customizing features users are familiar with through other sharing platforms, such as the ability to review and rates their trips.
The company looked to markets outside the U.S. for inspiration in building out its products suite. It implemented features like QR codes — which are rare in North America but more popular in Asia — that can be used to unlock Lime scooters and bikes, Foutty added.
“It’s shown a use case for QR codes that I don’t think people thought you’d see in this market,” he said.
While the company has taken inspiration from markets abroad, its approach has been local and focused on personalizing the experiences of each market’s users. Customers can choose from number of payment methods available on its app. After linking their chosen payment methods, they can either pay as they go, ride per ride or add money to their Lime wallets for future transactions.
Foutty explained that offering localized payment options has been essential to the company’s growth and success in the 15 countries where it’s available. This has also enabled the scooter platform to ensure that it’s offering payment methods that cater to the various audience on its platform: the riders as well as the “juicers” — those who find, collect and charge the company’s eScooters when they’re low on battery power, and get paid to do so.
“On the rider side, we set up the payment foundation to allow us to launch a new market and accept the payment options that people most want to use in that market,” Foutty said. “On the juicer side, we work with our local team to understand how people want to get paid locally, whether it’s instant payouts, a debit card or something else.”
This invisible payment capability is paired with other features and initiatives Lime has undertaken, including its attempts to connect with younger consumers. One such effort has seen it partner with several college campuses in North America to target mobile-savvy students.
Alternative Payments and the Rental Scooter Market
Lime is keeping a close eye on the payment methods to which consumers are flocking and those they’re leaving behind, including alternative wallet services built into phones themselves, Foutty said.
“Apple Pay has been something that we’ve integrated form the early days, and [it] has been a real benefit for riders being able to add that option and pay as quickly for Lime as possible,” he said.
He said customers have also responded well to Lime’s own eWallet offering, which allows users to take payments out of the ride-booking experience. The wallet was a key feature for Lime from the start.
As the rental scooter market continues its expansion, the influx of new capital and competitors is sure to lead to new features and experiments to gain customers’ loyalty. As brands works to figure out how to attract — and keep — customers, it’s uncertain just which one will end up on top.