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Truck Lagbe’s New App Uberizes Hiring Trucks, Sees Accelerated User Growth

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April 18, 2021

Truck Lagbe released a new version of its app on the Google Play Store a few months ago. An iOS version is in making to be released soon. The new app is a significant leap from its earlier version and comes with rich features and useful innovations.  

“The new version, which we launched in November 2020, is more optimized, organized, and has a ton of new features,” says Fahrina Ameen, Vice President of Product at Truck Lagbe. “Using our experience from the past few years, we added new features and have equally focused on functionality, experience, and look and feel.” Ms. Fahrina has been with Truck Lagbe since 2017 and looks after the product efforts of the company. 

Truck Lagbe, broadly speaking, serves three groups of customers. On the demand end — general customers, small and large businesses. On the supply end — truck drivers and owners. A general customer needs trucks for shifting homes, carrying furniture or appliances, etc. These are not daily use cases. To encourage these users to remember Truck Lagbe and come back when they need a truck, the app needs to be designed in a particular way. 

Truck Lagbe often works with business customers directly. The company has key account managers (KAM), who collaborate with business clients and is currently working on a web portal for large businesses to help them better manage their collaboration with Truck Lagbe. 

Finally, Truck drivers and owners — the most important users for Truck Lagbe — use the app daily. 

The new app addresses the needs of all three groups of users. 

“In the driver app, our priority has always been to make it simple, effortless to navigate,” says Ms. Fahrina. “Where look and feel are important for our shipper app, for driver app, simplicity and efficiency are the key factors. The driver app is in Bangla. Every feature is clearly explained so that one can easily understand what a feature means.”  

The company has made several changes based on feedback from drivers. For example, the app has filters that drivers can use to see trips they prefer based on location and other preferences. 

The company has introduced a fixed price feature in several categories to prevent a potential downward price spiral. It helps to maintain the pricing standard. The feature has been well accepted by both customers and drivers because it reduces the need for deliberation and decision-making. 

Truck Lagbe’s new shipper app is simple and intuitive. Someone who has no idea of hiring a truck could hire one easily using the app. The app guides people and has all the information and support one needs to hire a truck that was not in the old app. “In our previous app, we assumed that people know these things. So we did not add many features and information”, says Ms. Fahrina. “We have come out of that mindset. We now operate from a mindset where our users need all the help they could get and we have to assist them with everything.” 

Fahrina Ameen, Vice President, Product, Truck Lagbe

The new app is comfortable to use, thanks to a UX overhaul. You can find everything within the reach of your thumb. Moreover, it now requires fewer steps to hire a truck. “We have reduced the number of steps one needs to take to hire a truck”, says Ms. Fahrina. “Now you can create a trip with fewer steps which was not the case in the previous app.” 

The new app also does a great job in matching trips, which has improved the overall experience for both drivers and shippers. “Trips are shown based on the type of trips a driver wants to or can take. For example, a driver of a certain location only sees trips of that area and types of trips he wants to see,” says Ms. Fahrina. “We have improved trip matching. We could show a trip to everyone, which we used to do in the past, but now we show a trip to the nearest and best fit drivers first, which is more efficient for everyone.”


I.

The new app allows users to rent a truck from anywhere in Bangladesh with a few clicks on their handheld devices. To be precise: it takes only two steps to hire a truck on the new app. Users create trips, which then are sent to the nearest available drivers, and then a truck is being matched as per the user’s requirements — the ultimate uberization of the trucking industry. 

This is a big leap for Truck Lagbe and makes trucking truly on-demand. To make this leap the company had to make many things happen including standardization of pricing, ensuring enough supplies of trucks, and educating its supply-side users. Users now can hire small pickups at a fixed rate inside Dhaka city. Other trucks for all over Bangladesh are hired through a bidding process. 

The company has invested significant time and effort in understanding user behavior, taking user feedback over the past years, observing how people and drivers use the app, and standardizing various aspects of renting and hiring trucks. The new app is the culmination of all these lessons and insights. 

“Our MVP version was intended to see how people use the app and whether there is a real demand for app usage in the space since many people shared skepticism that people would not hire trucks using an app. The skepticism was even higher for truck drivers that they would not adopt tech easily”, says Truck Lagbe CTO Minhazur Rahman. Mr. Rahman joined TrucLagbe in February 2019 and leads its tech team. 

The general perception is truck drivers are not good at using technology — a rather prejudiced understanding. The reality, however, is quite different. Mr. Rahman explains his experience of building a technology product for this segment of the market: “When we launched our app to test the market truck drivers adopted it quite easily and many adopted it surprisingly fast. They are equally interested in the latest technology." 

Great tech products are intuitive and easy to grasp. You don’t need a manual to use a computer or a smartphone or an app. You intuitively know which button does what. “Our new app is much more intuitive than the previous version”, says Mr. Rahman. “From the beginning, we emphasized making an easy-to-use app”. 

The Truck Lagbe team engaged shippers and drivers in the design process to understand how people use different features of the app. “We reached out to our family members and asked them to hire a truck using our app,” says Mr. Rahman. “We observed how they use the app, tweaked accordingly and when we saw that they could easily navigate, we realized we were doing something right.”

Minhazur Rahman, Chief Technology Officer, Truck Lagbe

II. Uberization of trucking in Bangladesh 

Consumer behavior often follows certain patterns influenced by the dominant taste of its time. This is true for design and app. The dominant consumer app of today follows certain design principles and patterns changing broader consumer behavior along with it. For example, ride-sharing apps are one popular category of apps these days. Since a large number of people use these apps, they form a habit, and users seek similar speed and experience in other apps as well. 

Truck Lagbe could see this shift in user behavior happening when it comes to apps. “The app we had before this version,” says Mr. Rahman, “was fast, working well, and getting good traction. The reason we decided to launch an updated version is that: at a point, we realized people who use Uber, Pathao, etc. want a similar experience. This is a pattern we have seen across sectors.” 

This insight prompted Truck Lagbe to pursue a redesign akin to popular apps in the transportation segment in the market. Mr. Rahman explains familiarity bias is common and can’t be escaped. People are comfortable using familiar things. If you pay attention, this rule is in play in every area of our lives. 

Truck Lagbe learned from these examples. “Of course trucks can’t work like cars”, says Mr. Rahman. “But we have designed and improved the app so that people can have an experience they love and relate to. We have seen a meaningful uptick in positive feedback in the new version.” 


III. Simplified truck hiring

The company has introduced several new features such as saving driver’s contact information, blocking drivers, and selecting favorite drivers, etc. Contrary to popular ride-hailing services, trucks are different. In the case of Uber, it is not necessary to hire the same car every time. However, when it comes to shipping things from one place to another, you want a truck driver you trust. Being able to hire the same drivers has value for users. 

Finding location has been made easier by embedding Google maps into the app. The search feature has been made simpler and comes with assistance. 

The new version of the app introduced automation reducing the number of steps users have to take to hire a truck. For example, now when hiring a truck, you get a preset list of options to choose from the type of truck you want to hire. The system suggests the right truck for each type of product. The entire process of choosing the type of truck has been automated. In the previous version, shippers had to find out the right truck for their products by themselves. No more is the case. The app now has features that suggest the right truck for a user. The new Click and Drop feature shows the shippers different types of trucks along with types of products that can be shipped by each type. Shippers can also choose trucks they want to hire. 

For addresses and products, the app suggests right spelling because sometimes wrong spelling could cause major problems and complicate the user experience. 

The company has improved the supply of small trucks significantly and made the app ecosystem so simple that it is faster to hire a truck using the Truck Lagbe app than hiring a car using a ride-sharing app. “Suppose if you want to find a small truck, our app will find a truck for you faster than a ride-sharing app finds you a ride”, says Mr. Rahman. 

“You would not believe it but it takes about three seconds to tag a truck in certain locations such as Dhaka city,” explains Ms. Fahrina. 


IV. User-first design 

In the past, truck drivers would use the Truck Lagbe app when they had some free time for extra trips. It has, however, changed. Today, for a growing number of truck drivers, Truck Lagbe is the main source of trips. The company has worked hard over the years to ensure a steady flow of trips for drivers on its platform.

Truck Lagbe has separate apps for its two main user groups: shippers and drivers. Each app works differently, follows different design principles and philosophies, and is designed with keeping the users' needs in mind. The shipper app has been designed for everyone who wants to hire a truck, is fancy-looking, and is designed to meet the tastes of regular users. 

The driver/owner app, on the other hand, has been designed as a source of income. It is simpler and customizes based on the needs of a user. For example, if a driver has a 25-ton truck, they get trips suitable for his truck. The same goes for the small truck owners. 

“Shippers use our app when they need a truck to transport anything, which is not daily”, says Mr. Rahman. “They prefer something fancy. On the other hand, drivers use our app every day and they prefer simplistic features. The two versions of the Truck Lagbe app have different battery drainage, storage, and functionality depending on the type of users.” 

Truck Lagbe has developed a GPS device designed for trucks that it provides to registered vehicles on its platform. In the future, the company plans to use GPS to track road conditions using GPS data. These integrations are likely to change how people hire trucks and transport products in Bangladesh. 

Similarly, the new app takes the preference of truck drivers into account regarding the type of products they want to transport. “Our app is designed in a way that if a truck driver wants to transport furniture only and do home shifting trips only, the app will give him mostly those trips”, says Mr. Rahman. 


V. Engaging users

Mobile is a difficult ecosystem. Real estate is expensive on mobile. If an app is not something one likes and uses daily, they would not keep it. For example, Truck Lagbe has a consumer business where it has users who hire trucks for home-shifting, transporting furniture or home appliances, and similar irregular uses. These are not regular users. Generally, families shift their homes once in a few years. It means they need Truck Lagbe service once in a few months or years when they are shifting home or buying a fridge or something big like that. These users would not use the Truck Lagbe app daily.  

Businesses, both SMEs and large corporations are more regular users of Truck Lagbe service. But B2B companies necessarily don’t need to use apps to avail Truck Lagbe service. They can take the service using the Truck Lagbe app or they can take the service directly through Truck Lagbe's dedicated team who deals with B2B clients. 

Engaging truck drivers, who are the regular users of the app, however, is of a higher priority for Truck Lagbe. The company has made the app simpler for this group. At the same time, Truck Lagbe has managed to provide an even greater incentive — consistent trips. The company has made it predictable for truck drivers and owners to get trips — particularly down trips when they are returning after unloading a trip. Drivers now rely on the Truck Lagbe app for trips. These measures have helped the company to gain trust in the drivers and owners community resulting in increased and consistent app usage. 

“We try to ensure assignments during their down trips,” says Mr. Rahman. “Because after unloading goods when a truck is returning it's better if they get assignments rather than returning empty. We can’t give trips all the time of course. But we try to find trips most of the time.”  

Small trucks have no challenge finding trips on Truck Lagbe platforms. They get consistent assignments through the Truck Lagbe app including intercity trips. “In the past, we had to oversee the operations of small trucks. Now we only do that when they are going to remote areas. Small trucks easily get return trips.”  

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Truck Lagbe users accepted the new app well. “Usually people resist change,” says Ms. Fahrina. "When there is a new version of an app, say for example Facebook, users usually react negatively initially. We experienced that with changes in the past. But this time around, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.”  

Truck Lagbe has seen excellent growth in usage since the launch of the new app. Truck Lagbe driver-partners spend a lot of time in the app. The new features such as fixed price have made both drivers and shippers happier. The app has also seen a sharp rise in referral users. 

The company says it is continuously improving the app experience with feedback from the users and plans to introduce more exciting features in the coming days. 

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Ruhul Kader is a technology business and technology policy analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, technology policy, and society. He can be reached at [email protected]

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