If you spend even a little time in Los Angeles, there’s a 99.9999 percent chance you’ve been stuck on the freeway between meetings and desperately in need of a snack or some lip balm.
That’s good news for Cargo, whose in-car commerce platform just rolled into the City of Angels, where it’s available in rideshare services like Uber. The service gives passengers access to “must-have” items, like snacks and toiletries, and rideshare drivers an opportunity to earn extra income.
When a driver signs up for Cargo, which uses Uber’s API, they’re sent a display box with a unique code, along with a selection of snacks, cosmetics, electronics, and even a couple hangover cures. Cargo delivers replenishments monthly to drivers’ doorsteps.
Having a Cargo box in hand basically lets a driver turn their car into a convenience store on wheels: Passengers access Cargo’s mobile menu, enter the unique box code, and select items they want. They can pay via credit card or mobile wallet, and when it’s safe to stop the car (at a red light, for instance), the driver will hand over the purchased items.
“We’re spending so much time in ridesharing vehicles,” Cargo CEO, Jeff Cripe, said over the phone. “Part of what we wanted to do was innovate on that service and give people a more connected experience.”
It’s a potentially fruitful opportunity for drivers, too. According to Cargo’s website, drivers get 25 percent of retail sales, plus $1.00 per order. Active drivers are said to earn up to $300 per month (in addition to whatever they’re getting from the actual rideshare service).
Cargo is already in several markets, including NYC, Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Dallas. The company also recently launched a partnership in Singapore with rideshare company Grab.
LA, of course, has a rep as one of the most car-centric cities in the world, which Cripe, an Angelino himself, thinks will help boost Cargo’s appeal. Compared to a more pedestrian-friendly place like NYC or Boston, he notes that, “In LA, things are a lot more spread apart. You’re on a freeway, you don’t have access [to stores]. And a lot of things close earlier.”
“From a product-market fit standpoint, we’d be more valuable to the average consumer,” he adds.
For this particular launch, Cargo has partnered with SnackNation and Snapchat, both of which are also based in LA. SnackNation is already a popular supplier of healthy edible goods for offices around the city. Says Cripe, “It’s really going to be that ‘better for you’ brand that’s going to be relevant for people in LA.”
Snapchat, meanwhile, will provide a QR code (called a Snapcode) for each Cargo box. Users will be able to view the Cargo menu, order, and pay via the Snapchat app.
Cargo is part of what Cripe refers to as the “other space” in consumers’ lives: It’s not home, and it’s not the office or your personal vehicle. But with more people leading on-the-go lives and also opting for ridesharing over their own wheels, the amount of time spent in these types of vehicles is increasing. In fact, the total distance covered from Uber trips over the last five years is greater than a trip around the planet Saturn. Meanwhile, the average citizen no longer needs to own a car to live comfortably in a growing number of cities.
Cargo raised $5.5 million in a “seed preferred financing” round earlier this year. According to Cripe and the company, Cargo will be in over 20,000 ridesharing vehicles by the end of 2018.
While there are no specifics yet, Cripe does note the company’s potential to move beyond the “need-to-have” items and into the “nice-to-have” products. In-car wifi and gaming are two possibilities, in theory, at least. “I think it definitely does go beyond the commerce aspect of the vehicle,” he says.
In other words, there’s a pretty limitless bunch of options in terms of what could eventually fill this “other space.”