The second part of our ‘ten part’ innovation series, we look at Bangalore based bus ticketing company RedBus and map how it is innovating through forming Networks and Alliances.
The idea of private luxury bus service has proven to be successful for quite sometime now. Corporate helpdesks have been setup to help employees book their tickets have been unsuccessful, when brokers started to block bulk tickets directly during festive seasons, which are sold at an atrocious price later. On the other side bus service providers were also helpless because of the lack of a channel through which they can reach out to customers directly. This led to a desperate need for a ticketing platform bridging the bus service providers and customers.
RedBus (http://redbus.in) did just that by creating a platform for purchasing bus tickets. The venture started off with a capital of 5 lakh rupees, RedBus partnered with multiple private bus service providers by bringing their ticketing information online. Backed up by a strongly back-end system, this new platform was able to make bus ticket purchase easy with minimal service charge. This by effectively building a network of bus service providers and by also forging strong alliances with them. RedBus has today emerged as the single largest platform in India for bus tickets. Below, is a list of innovations by RedBus:
First, RedBus integrated the fragmented bus service providers through a common platform backed by technology. For a ‘not-so-tech-savvy’ service provider hosting and maintaining an online ticketing platform is a task, which only established players (example: KSRTC, KPN) have been able to do successfully thanks to their large network. The integration became a huge success mainly due to the large scale alliances formed with the service providers, which offered more options to customers to choose from. As the platform became successful, more and more service providers signed-up to rake in on this huge opportunity.
RedBus created multiple ordering channels associated with appropriate delivery mechanisms for customers. For example customers can place an order through phone, online or their mobile phone (SMS as mobile application) which opened up the market for travelers who don’t have access to internet. The delivery side also offered multiple options for customers like door delivery, online receipt printing and mobile confirmation number depending on the ordering channel chosen.
The RedBus website was one of the well designed e-commerce website which stressed on the user experience. This simple, intuitive and easy to use website allows customers to purchase tickets within minutes where one does not need to create a login id. Thanks to this careful yet simple design, it was also has successfully scaled to providing vernacular language interface as well. Today it has interfaces in Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil which is very critical to capture tier two and tier three markets where English is an entry barrier.
The network through the bus service providers is getting leveraged for providing other value added services like group bus hire, going beyond just providing bus tickets for individuals. This could create multiple future opportunities which are yet to be unlocked. In some way RedBus can be compared with what IRCTC has done for train tickets in India, but it is different in the way they went about implementing it – by forming network and alliances.
Today RedBus has more than 500 bus service providers covering over 5000 plus routes across India. It is ever growing and definitely offers more compelling opportunities in the future. As their website claims, “India is beautiful — Experience it by road”.