Zipcar was one of the first companies to showcase the potential of iOS apps using location services. The company’s demo during Apple’s 2009 WWDC keynote was one of early harbingers of the ways that mobile devices and data have become integrated with our daily lives. Zipcar continues to have its finger on the pulse of what’s possible when local services are transformed by iOS and other mobile platforms.
Speaking today at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith spoke about how quickly smartphone apps revolutionized Zipcar and the ways it interacts with its customers and offered insights into the company’s success.
While there are plenty of companies looking at how launch successful mobile strategies, the ones that succeed are the ones that fill a specific need and offer customers something that a traditional browser or desktop based experience can’t.
In that context, Zipcar is a poster child for mobility. Its car sharing service is literally all about mobility and finding a vehicle that’s part of the company’s fleet is all about location services. Griffith noted that Zipcar customers now longer seek desktop or even phone-based interactions with the company. The majority of interactions and transactions occur on mobile devices with the iPhone and Android handsets as lead devices.
Another key point is that successful mobile initiatives need to be simple and efficient in terms of the mobile-specific services they provide. That’s one of the hallmarks of Zipcar’s app versus its website. Users want to locate or reserve a car. All the features of the app are oriented around that. An iPhone app provides a better experience for that. Managing your account, however, can be easier to do using a desktop browser.
Asked if companies should think globally or locally, Griffith pointed out that for his company, thinking locally is paramount even as it grows and expands across three countries on two continents.