A potential for consumer value creation: Citymapper


Introduction
Founded in 2012 by Azmat Yusuf (Tanasoiu 2018), Citymapper is a UK-based company which aims to transform the transportation industry. Through its application, Citymapper helps its user navigate a given city’s transportation grid and provides users with the ability to search for the desired destination, after which the app displays a number of travel itinerary alternatives. Since its inception in 2012, Citymapper has grown internationally and currently operates in 39 cities around the globe (Citymapper 2018). The company creates value for its user by providing them with a travel companion that generates personalised travel options.

But can the consumers become of more value for Citymapper by creating value other than Citymapper capturing their value through the search engine?

Current business model
Citymapper’s currently offers value in the form of efficiency and usability to the users of its transit application. The company exploits its current IT infrastructure, collected data and easy to use user interface to deliver digital content to consumers. On the digital business model framework (Weill et. al 2013) Citymapper’s business design and knowledge of the end customer most closely correlate with the supplier business model.

One way information stream

Citymapper currently gathers partial knowledge of the end users such as search and location (start and end point) data (Citymapper 2018). Other data such as name, address, demographics or search history are not being collected. Therefore, the main information stream flows through the Citymapper application to the user.

Potential consumer value creation
Citymapper can capture a great deal of value by giving its users the ability to co-create value for the application. This can be done by allowing users to give inputs, that are in turn shared with the rest of the Citymapper users. In the current situation, Citymapper supplies users with information about public transport and allows users to plan their public transport trips. The urban transport information shared by Citymapper is limited to the information that is supplied by large public transport companies or private companies gathering transport data. Citymapper has the option to turn their business model from a supplier model into a two stream model.

Two stream business model

How can consumers co-create value for Citymapper?
By starting to use one of their greatest assets they have, a large user-base. Citymapper has the possibility to crowdsource the rating system and the supply of information to their customers making it possible to better understand and support their own customers. Not only are they able to deliver more precise and real-time data on transportation and planning, but also they get more insights in the demands and needs of their own customers. A few of many options that can be crowdsourced are listed below.

The crowdedness of the vehicle
Users could indicate the crowdedness of a particular vehicle signaling that there are no seats available, encouraging users to opt for a different train. Other users could be notified while they are still at home about the crowdedness of the trip, and come prepared, saving them from the surprise of a crowded train, which is one of the greatest pain point related to public transport, according to Fellesson and Friman (2008).

Unexpected delays during the trip
Users could indicate unexpected events that would delay the trips. This live information can be sent to other users, notifying them that the vehicle will be running late, and suggesting an alternative trip. This is all done much quicker than first having to signal the transit company, which in turn must notify users through the rail stations.

Supplier reliability & comfortability
Users could rate transportation providers on their service, both looking at reliability and comfortability. By rating cleanliness, politeness of the driver and price/quality consumers get insights in the overal quality of the transportation modes. This would help other users to select their company of choice.

By gaining more knowledge on what the users, both as a whole and individually, like and demand recommendations can be given. For example, someone who never uses the bus does not want to have the bus in their itinerary. By receiving ratings of services, crowdedness and delays better recommendations can be made. Even more interesting, customers create recommendations and insights for other users, creating a C2C environment.

In order to improve the customer experience for Citymapper users, an in-app payment system could be introduced as well as a ticket management feature. These additions to Citymapper’s value proposition effectively introduce two additional steps in a typical user journey: Once a given user has gathered the desired information regarding his public transport itinerary, instead of leaving the Citymapper ecosystem, the user is given the option to directly purchase the tickets corresponding to the selected journey. Furthermore, once the ticket purchase is completed, tickets are stored within the ticket management feature of the new Citymapper app. This enables the user to remain within the company’s ecosystem throughout the physical public transport journey, using the app as a digital ticket. Overall, the addition of in-app ticket purchase coupled with the ability to use the app itself as a digital ticket greatly improves the overall customer experience while increasing the time a given user spends within the Citymapper platform.

Additional options
Multiple other options open up when turning Citymapper into an open platform environment. By adopting one of many other open platforms for ride sharing and including them into the transportation itinerary would really turn on consumer value creation. Imagine the option to join someone in the car, scooter or motorcycle for a part of your trip. Think of what would happen when Citymapper includes Blablacar, Snapcar, Felyx, Lime, Mobike, Car2go and many others in their system. The options to travel from A to B would become endless.

References:

Citymapper (2018) Making Cities Usable. Citymapper.com. Available at: https://citymapper.com/company?lang=en  

Crunchbase, 2018. Available at: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/citymapper-limited#section-investors

Weill, P. and Woerner, S. (2013). Optimizing your digital business model. MIT Sloan Management Review, 54(3), pp.71-78.

Fellesson, M. and Friman, M. (2008). Perceived Satisfaction with Public Transport Service in Nine European Cities. Journal of the Transportation Research Forum, 47(3), pp.93-103

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