In an endeavor to evade India's patchy Internet and reach a larger customer base, certain ride-hailing services like ixigo, Baxi, Jugnoo and AHA Taxis have introduced an offline feature that allows passengers to book the service without using internet.
The offline feature uses the last known location or most frequent boarding location as a guesstimate for the customer to choose from. Once a location is chosen, a text message is generated and sent to the server, which then sends a message to the customer with the booking details.
Praveen Samariya, co-founder of AHA Taxis - an online taxi booking portal providing cabs for outstation trips - says, "There were multiple customer complaints about not being able to book cabs because of low internet connectivity. This drove us to work on our technology and come up with an offline feature."
ixigo's CEO and co-founder, Aloke Bajpai, who rolled out this feature about four months ago said, "Since we are a metasearch engine, the app tries to find the nearest cab or auto and customers can get an Ola or Uber using the offline feature in our app. We receive more than 100 bookings through this feature, contributing to 10 percent of the total requests."
Though experts think, the offline feature is a good solution for smaller companies because trip lengths would usually be smaller and relatively cheap, Uber and Ola don't plan to launch a similar feature in future.
"Uber and Ola have their own parameters of assigning the trip, they want to be accurate and prompt," said Jaspal Singh, a transport analyst from Delhi-based Valoriser Consultants.
He further added, "For them, it's important that everything happens online because the accuracy level will be much higher. I don't think they will look at adding the offline option very soon. However, they are looking for a solution where in the app works efficiently with a low-speed internet connection."