Thanks to Google Maps Platform, Fleetizen improves their mobility technology by enabling a better dispatch of vehicles, price route calculations in real time and at better costs.
Complete mapping of the taxi fleet at any given moment
Optimisation of travel times and corresponding prices
Reliability of addresses thanks to the vast community of users
Streamline ordering interfaces
A dispatch system for managing the taxi fleet
Founded at the end of 2017, Fleetizen is a mobility sector startup that offers products and services to modernise taxi booking businesses. The co-founders of this French company have 40 years of expertise in the mobility sector. Their adventure started based on a strong observation: taxis are here to stay, so long as they modernise. Fleetizen, therefore, offers a dispatch system to optimise vehicle fleets, as well as digital payment methods and various tools to improve the customer service of traditional taxi companies.
In a sector where innovations are created almost on a daily basis, technology alone does not ensure a successful digital transformation. This is why Fleetizen also describes itself as a true consulting partner. "We offer technology that covers all of the administrative needs of a taxi booking business with real-time dispatch. However, above all, we show our customers how to use these tools because we know that software that is not used properly does not provide satisfaction and cannot be used to the best of its potential", explains Xavier Henry, Fleetizen's CTO.
Geolocation obviously plays a key role in an application designed for managing taxi fleets. Fleetizen uses GPS data from Google Maps Platform not only to determine the exact location of each vehicle and each customer, but also to suggest the best route and calculate the price of each trip based on various criteria. A large amount of location data is accessed via APIs, but this is expensive. To optimise its use, Fleetizen contacted Web Geo Services, Google's preferred partner in France and Europe, to market Google Maps Platform to companies.
Adapting for a better modernisation
The mobility sector is developing at a fast pace, and there are many competitors. Driverless cars are becoming more believable by the day, and the very notion of urban transport has changed. In towns, a trip from A to B no longer involves just one form of transport. You need to think in terms of combined methods of transport (bike, underground, scooter, taxi, etc.). Fleetizen's founders are confident in the sustainability of taxis: "We firmly believe that we are on the right track because the taxi truly is one of the players expected to survive in the urban mobility landscape". Effectively, in spite of well-established competition from vehicle for hire giants, such as Uber, there is still a high demand for taxis. Nevertheless, to remain competitive, this traditional trade must keep ahead of the game, i.e. transition towards green vehicles, work over shorter time ranges, or even target specific areas. This modernisation means that strategic decisions need to be made based on the analysis of data, and in particular location data.
Fleetizen is the perfect solution for taxi companies that have a fleet that is large enough to need automation and optimisation, but that do not have the capacity or the financial resources to develop tools in house. Typically, this applies to taxi booking businesses that have between around one hundred and up to five thousand vehicles. The French startup also knows how to be flexible and innovative. Its partnership with Taxis Verts, which is the largest taxi business in Brussels, started from a small parcel transport activity. Despite the lockdown, this was an ideal trial run to test the dispatch solution before applying it to the entire Taxis Verts fleet in May 2020.
Because indeed, as for the entire mobility sector, the health crisis was a shock: people were moving around less. Even so, after the lifting of the first lockdown, Fleetizen did note an immediate recovery of its customers' activity, but without getting back to pre-Covid activity levels. However, the energy invested by its sales teams is appearing to pay off with highly promising outlooks for 2021.
"Fleetizen opted for Google Maps Platform, due to its reliability and its easy integration, with 99.9% availability, unfailing execution speed and a community of several millions of users daily for years."
— Xavier Henry,
CTO Manager at Fleetizen
Geolocation at the heart of the service
In order to stand out from its competitors, Fleetizen relies firstly on its distinctive technology, and secondly on customised assistance. When it comes to technology, even though the taxi trade existed long before the smartphone, digital transformation is a must. Pooling an entire fleet of vehicles and optimising their journeys in real time is a win-win situation for everyone.
The notion of geolocation is a fundamental part of urban mobility in general, and of the taxi trade in particular.
There is also another reason, such as intuition: "When an individual is satisfied with a service on a personal level, they are reassured that they will find it on a professional level. I knew that Google Maps was satisfactory for 90% of my personal needs, so I figured that it would be the same for my customers", says Fleetizen's CTO.
95% of Fleetizen's needs are currently covered by Google Maps APIs. The "One-Stop-Shop" dimension is one of the American platform's many advantages. Fleetizen uses Maps Geocoding API to convert GPS positions into textual addresses: Google's mapping data are the most up-to-date on the market. If they aren't up-to-date, users can easily make suggestions, which are rapidly checked and updated by Google's teams. Maps Directions API calculates travel times and tells the customer how long their journey will potentially last, taking traffic density into account. In addition, Google's reliability gives Fleetizen a distinctive advantage over its competitors. Maps Directions API analyses and divides up the route as accurately as possible according to geographical sectors, and Fleetizen very accurately estimates the price.
Maps Distance Matrix API is the most strategic tool for Fleetizen. It calculates an exact ETA (estimated time of arrival) and answers a crucial question for all taxi users: when will my driver be here?
All of these various data are accessible from a platform established by Fleetizen, in the form of dashboards, and are summarised on a regular basis in strategic reports according to each customer's needs.
Full customised assistance
In addition to these various technological tools, the French startup offers full assistance to its customers, with an after-sales service, a Helpdesk and CRM to reduce costs, driver monitoring for the most profitable routes, or even a Soft Phone system to optimise the process. Indeed, the phone channel remains essential for the taxi business. A certain number of customers still prefer to use the phone to make their bookings. Fleetizen meets this requirement by using Place Autocomplete API and Place Details API predictive input to speed up customer order entries.
Fleetizen's aim is to automate phone channel orders to save money for its customers: the call centre still currently represents one of the taxi booking business's main costs. "Obviously, we provide all of the necessary tools so that customers can order in a digital, automated way, if they so wish. This reduces the number of calls and therefore human monitoring. By automating the process using Google Maps tools, the customer can manage their journey independently. We can also put the driver and the customer in contact with one another without systematically passing through the call centre," explains Xavier.
One of the main arguments for switching to digital is that the customer base is getting younger. "Young people compare everything. When they want to go home after an evening out, they compare the prices from three, four, five applications. These technological and human measures mean that taxi companies are now able to offer a similar service to those of the major vehicle for hire competitors that have invested enormous resources. With around a dozen engineers, we can currently offer equivalent solutions, in particular thanks to Google Maps tools", says Fleetizen's CTO.
Automating and improving the reliability of geographical data
Fleetizen's teams have integrated Google Maps Platform products into the heart of their offer. "The time saved for our customers means that they no longer have to spend time maintaining a mapping database for their town in their own system. They now continuously benefit from the entire Google products community", says Xavier Henry. He also says that these technological products are integrated in a streamline way under ideal conditions: the technical documentation intended for developers is perfectly clear and full of illustrative examples. "Google has even offered us credits to test various APIs", he adds. "Although these APIs are easy to integrate, they must, however, be perfectly understood and mastered in house because they have a highly strategical importance for every profession, from the UX designer to the marketing manager."
To get a better understanding of the scope of Google Maps API features, and optimise the costs related to a very large number of calls to the American platform, Fleetizen decided to use Web Geo Services, Google Maps preferred partner in France. "Technology-speaking, we still use Google Maps, but we go through a Web Geo Services billing account that not only allows us to have visibility over our consumption, but also to add monitoring and reporting tools", explains the CTO. The startup makes remarkable savings, in particular by grouping certain API calls according to use cases. Fleetizen is currently focusing on a fully-developed technical roadmap so that it can soon offer a turnkey solution to its customers that can be rolled out in record time.
From the customer's address to the exact location of each vehicle of the taxi fleet, including the fastest routes depending on the traffic, geolocation data plays a central role for Fleetizen. "Google Maps constitutes the best solution on the market, and for our business. We don't want to give a second thought to whether geolocation will work properly, or if the address directory is exhaustive", concludes Fleetizen's CTO.