Free-floating operators diversify into retail and long-term renting
Hit by the pandemic and still searching for a profitable business model, free-floating services seek other revenue sources. American Bird is spreading its wings by selling some of its products in addition to renting them. French Zoov-Smoove is also diversifying by a new long-term bicycle renting solution at 69 euro per month.
While they weren’t in the best shape before Covid-19 hit, free-floating mobility services have an even harder job finding profit with the pandemic. Last year, American company Bird saw its turnover drop by 37%.
Since its creation, it hasn’t yet made a dollar, burning more than one billion to grow. The “giant” isn’t alone in this; even smaller, more regional actors also have difficulties finding a profitable business model. Diversification could therefore be the key to their survival.
From service to retail
Bird is making a step forward by selling its products in addition to renting them. Since 2019, it’s possible to purchase the Bird One, the company’s most popular e-scooter, but it is expensive and only on the operator’s website.
For some months now, Bird products have appeared on the websites of the American supermarket chain Target and electronic retailer Best Buy.
In France, a more affordable version of the Bird e-scooter is available on Cdiscount. Still, the operator confirmed that two electric bikes models would be available for purchase in Europe at the beginning of next year.
Are short-term, free-floating renting solutions the only way? According to French operator Zoov-Smoove, there are other solutions. The start-up born in 2017 continues to offer electric bicycles for rent in Bordeaux and Paris-Saclay. However, after its merger in March with Smoove, one of the group’s founders operating Vélib’, the company will launch a long-term renting solution.
For 69 euro per month, customers will benefit from an electric bicycle with a theft warranty and repairs within 24 hours. According to the company, this is a way to offer the complete service package instead of just the product. That being said, Zoov-Smoove isn’t the first to the party as such a service is already being offered by competitors Swapfiets and Decathlon Rent.