Software is an essential part of your vehicle-sharing business. And it doesn't matter what vehicles your customers are going to share. They will do it through the mobile app. So here is the decision to make – are you going to create the vehicle-sharing software from scratch or choose one of the existing solutions on the market. Hopefully, this article will help you with this decision.
Which one of these two options should you choose? There is no one correct answer and there are advantages as well as weaknesses to both of them.
Imagine that this is your first vehicle-sharing business and you have decided to do everything on your own. You are full of enthusiasm and you approach your CTO or IT partner and promise to come up with the brief. The task doesn't seem too complicated for the software you need. However, the vehicle-sharing business is the one that makes creating the brief so complicated. There are many small details to consider.
First step - long and costly research
If you really have decided to start to develop software from scratch, you should take one step back. Your CTO or IT partner must start with the investigation on what functions you might need and how one thing might lead to another. This might take a lot of time and money. In addition, sometimes you can get an impression of what clients need only by operating in the market. For example, ATOM is operating in 23 countries. Their software that is also a white label solution for vehicle-sharing businesses already includes over 100 different features and settings that users might need. And those features are a collection of suggestions from users made over the course of several years in those markets.
However, the aim of the research is to understand what the vehicle-sharing software might look like. If the investigation is done, you can start to prepare the brief and documentation for developers. Here is a list of some other things that you should consider before starting work on a technical solution:
- backend, as well as frontend of the solution - both should be developed and supported so your team can manage operations;
- there should be two versions of the mobile app - one for users that has a device operating on iOS. Other - for the owners of devices that run on Android;
- whenever Apple or Android updates their operating systems or other 3rd party makes an update, you should be ready to check if everything works on your apps;
- apps should be compatible with smart locks in the case of bikes or IoT solutions in the case of scooters, mopeds, cars that are used on the vehicle;
- the IT solution must be properly tested and debugged - the industry average shows that testing the app takes approximately two-three months;
- if your vehicle fleet has over 100 vehicles, most likely you will have a service team. The most convenient way for the service team to operate is by using the phone app. This means that there should be one more app for the service team. And your team members might also have iOS as well as Android operating systems on their devices. So again – there are two more apps for you to build;
- additionally, you must have an invoicing option and also the option to create reports, see statistics, analyze routes, distribute promotions, launch referral programs, etc. And this list can go on and on.
The software development usually costs from EUR 100,000-400,000 depending on the complexity and features that you might want to include. In addition, you have to keep in mind that nothing ends with development. The software requires testing, private launch, debugging and support. And only then will the software be ready for the public launch. However, more bug fixing should probably be done.
One year and you are ready to go!
This whole process mentioned above takes approximately one year. Of course, fingers crossed that the solution as well as the integration with smart locks or IoT solutions works. There is just one problem - the vehicle-sharing industry is changing very rapidly - new players are coming in, others are expanding, new means of transportation are used for vehicle-sharing. And there are a lot of things that might happen and change in a year. It might be hard to catch up.
Furthermore, competitors are constantly offering and creating new features that were not in the market previously such as subscriptions, which is currently a new trend. For example, ATOM Mobility has created a white label solution for the vehicle-sharing market that constantly collects knowledge from their clients and adds new features. Later those features are integrated into solutions offered to other clients so everyone is up to date. In the case of a custom-made solution, everything is on you - it might take additional time and money.
One more thing that speaks in favor of the white label solution - let's imagine that your business is very successful. You have developed a vehicle-sharing software for the one-vehicle type and you would like to grow by adding other vehicle types. Sorry, not possible. You will have to make significant changes to the existing software or develop the new one. So probably you will have to start over again.
The same problem might apply to extending the fleet. If your business becomes scalable, the software might not be appropriate for a fleet with 20 000 vehicles. White label solution providers are usually ready for such success of their customers as they have already supported thousands of vehicles for some time.
When it is worthwhile developing a custom solution?
However, there are times that it is worth considering developing a custom solution - your own software for your vehicle-sharing business. It is worth doing this, if:
1) You already know that you might need some very specific features, but the company offering white-label solutions can't provide them to you. For example, you want your car sharing software to run on the blockchain. Or you want to create a decentralized sharing service. However, it is only worth investing in such a specific solution if it is a real game-changer for you and you have the data to proof it;
2) You have EUR 500,000 or more available in funding and you have a very strong team of developers that you would like to keep working for your company. You consider them to be your asset. Then, if you are lucky, after some time, someone might be interested in buying your company just because of the team and, of course, the solution you have developed;
3) The co-founder of the company is a very good CTO with high-level technical skills and the ability to lead the team. Then it is probably worth building a team. However, most likely you will build a technological and not a vehicle-sharing company in the end and spent more on development than actually on vehicles.
4) For some reason one of the requirements is to have a source code. Companies offering white label solutions won't be able to help you with that.
There is a power in sharing and this doesn't just apply to vehicle-sharing. You always get access to a strong network when you are working hand in hand with the industry leaders. That's what we at ATOM emphasize in collaboration with our clients. We are ready to share as much as we can because we do really care about our clients’ business. It is important for us that they grow and constantly have access to the latest achievements within the industry.