If you’ve been around Manchester over the last few months, you’ve probably seen one of those silver and orange bikes zipping past you - well, that, or left abandoned on the side of a pavement. You’ve heard of the smartphone revolution, well now you can experience the smartbike revolution; Manchester’s answer to London’s Boris bikes, but with a twist.
Back in June Mobike, the Chinese ‘smartbike’ firm, rolled out 1000 of its dockless bicycles across Manchester City Centre and MediaCityUK. The Mobike scheme already plays a key part in daily life across 130 cities across Asia, with 5 million bikes being used by 10 million users.
The truth is, Mobike is unlike anything else out there. Sure, cities across the world have their own bike sharing schemes but Mobike is the only scheme that is 100% cashless, 100% operated through a smartphone app, and, best of all, 100% dockless. Yes, you can literally leave them wherever you like - within reason - this means not at the bottom of Manchester Ship Canal. There is a fine and banning system in place in an effort to stop that kind of thing happening!
The User Journey
We thought we’d see what all the fuss was about, and put Mobike to the test. After downloading the Mobike app from the app store, I was instantly impressed. The app is central to everything Mobike stands for, and there isn’t any compromise with the user experience (UX).
Once you’ve registered, created an account and paid the £29.50 deposit, you are pretty much set to go. The whole process took no longer than 5 minutes.
Next, you need to actually locate your nearest bike, which is little bother with the smart GPS interface which highlights all the bikes in your local radius. As you can see, 7 bikes were a short walking distance from my current location:
Once there, hit the unlock button and scan the QR Barcode situated on the frame of the bike. After a couple of seconds, the bike was unlocked and I was good to go. Charging just 50p a mile, the app will revolutionise the way we make our short, inner city trips. Eliminating the need to take a cab, the hope is that carbon emissions will be slashed, traffic congestion reduced and that using Mobikes will promote a more active and healthier lifestyle.
The user-interface’s sleek and minimalism design results in the whole user journey feeling effortless. Text is used sparingly, instead neat symbols are positioned exactly where you would expect them to be positioned. UX is an essential component for any brand, especially a digital start-up, on first impressions it seems Mobike has nailed it with its no-nonsense approach. For more information on how to improve the user-experience on your website or app, then look no further than this previous article we wrote.
Admittedly, it hasn’t all been sunshine and daisies for Mobike. In the first few months of operation, it had to face a couple of ‘teething’ issues. The bikes that have been described ‘indestructible’ and ‘vandal proof’ by their designer have been reported to be trashed or stolen. Nevertheless, Mancunians aren’t ones to give-up hope that easily. Speaking to The Guardian, Steve Pyer, Mobike UK’s General Manager stated “Mancunians love the bikes, and are now taking 4,000 trips every day - even when it’s raining.”
Embracing The Sharing Economy
With Mobike’s intent and commitment to stay put in Manchester and the majority of Mancunians ready to incorporate and accept the smartbike revolution, the only way is up. The whole concept of integrating technology into our daily lives is a continuously growing trend and the Cottonopolis of Manchester is making strides towards its ultimate goal of being ‘one of the world’s top digital cities.’
With plans to bring Mobike to London already in motion, such fantastic benefits and advantages should not be confined to major cities alone. With Mobike ushering in and contributing to social and environmental change, every city in the UK should be looking at adopting the scheme.
The sharing economy and the digital environment are a match made in heaven. Providing people with a digital platform for the sharing economy to thrive in is the direction that we, as digital marketers, should be moving in. The concept has already taken the hospitality industry by storm, with the likes of Airbnb being a prime example. Therefore, why not implement the model into our day-to-day life? Mobike is undoubtedly a huge step in the right direction, and we here at Fast Web Media hope its early days of success continue.
Have you had the chance to try out Mobikes yet? Let us know what you think over on Twitter @FastWebMedia