It’s been close to a month since I last saw a taxify ( BOLT) rider (at least for places I have been), and close to months without seeing an uber boda, in one way or the other I was forced to ask myself what happened to these ride-hailing companies, is Safeboda slowly creating a monopoly in the Ugandan ride-hailing space. Or is there something else we need to know about the consumer trends for ride-hailing services.
At the start of 2017, the ride-hailing business was at its peak with competition from international giants such as taxify, uber and the local ride-hailing startup safeboda.
However towards the end of 2018, the competition in the industry started taking a twist, first, ride-hailing company taxify faced allegations over rider misbehaviors from customers, people took to their social media platforms to complain about the riders, even though the company was still giving a deaf ear, rumors started moving around that taxify was probably considering an acquisition or changing management, taxify administration came out to rubbish these allegations and promised customers that the company was doing internal restructuring promising something bigger and better was yet to be unveiled.
Around March 2019, taxify rebranded to Bolt which meant a shift in their business model, taxify currently bolt was planning to introduce scooters as another way to compete both locally and internationally. However, ever since the crisis, the results aren’t there as yet for a company with the resources as they do.
Another ride-hailing company uber has also been moving in the same footprints of taxify, the company has been shifting strategies to compete on the ride-hailing market but the results on the ground are still not promising. The company was first faced with the hurdle of differentiating their riders from the regular bodas, this was immediately followed by the introduction of the blue helmets, however still from the customer perceptive, it’s still hard to spot an uber boda from a distance.
Unlike Safeboda, some riders from uber and taxify are continuously breaching the traffic rules. This is something we should least expect from organized ride-hailing company riders.
What I think are some of the causes for the fall of taxify and uber
Both taxify and uber have failed to blend in the local market like the local startup safeboda, take an example taxify and uber do not support the use of mobile money to top up credits which is the mostly used payment service by Ugandans.
The two companies have failed to brand themselves different from the regular boda boda riders. Safeboda is the only ride-hailing startup in Uganda which has done a recomendable job at this to the point that some of their customers take pride in using boda bodas as long as it was a safeboda.
Here are some of the things Uber and Bolt should invest in heavily if they’re to compete in the Ugandan market.
The two ride-hailing companies need to provide branded costumes to their riders that can easily be spotted from a distance.
The startups should add mobile money services as part of their wallet top up options.
The companies should have a budget for online influencers to help them reach more customers and create a social feeling that using an uber or bolt is cool.
They need to rethink about retraining and hiring more riders on their platform.
Taxify and uberBoda should either beef up their game or their days in the Ugandan market are numbered.
The opinions expressed in the article are purely the thoughts of the writer.