How redBus touched 2 million app downloads across OSs [Interview with Prakash Sangam, CEO, redBus]

Bus ticketing portal redBus has crossed 2 million app downloads last week across its three platforms — Android, iOS and Windows. The ibibo-owned company achieved this feat within 22 months.

redBus completed its first million downloads in 18 months while the next one million came in just four months’ time. redBus is now one of the highest downloaded travel apps in India with a rating of 4.3 plus across its three apps.

Read: Why e-commerce companies will eventually become m-commerce entities?

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redBus is focusing deeply on its mobile customers by releasing some key product features like real time travel tips, live tracking on mobile, directions to boarding points, suggest best dropping point, one-touch payments & cancellation etc.

The above features have not only helped redBus build a loyal customer base for its apps but also reach new customers organically. redBus mobile now accounts for about 35% of its online transactions and half of its traffic comes from mobile.

Prakash Sangam, CEO of redBus.in, says, “At the ibibo Group, we have a disproportionate focus on the mobile platform. Over the past year, most of the innovation and go-to-market at redBus has centered around mobile. This strategy seems to be paying off well making redBus possibly the most downloaded apps in the OTA space. And with an average rating of 4.3 across all store fronts, it is certainly the highest rated app in its category. Mobile will witness continued investments in the days to come.”

Earlier in July, the company crossed the three crore ticket milestone through its platform since its inception. Importantly, the last crore tickets came in 1/8th the time in comparison to the first one crore. According to the company, the last one crore ticket largely attributed to its mobile apps.

Founded in 2007, redBus owns three products — redBus, BOGDS, and SeatSeller serving the fragmented bus industry in India. BOGDS is a cloud solution built for bus operators. Thousands of bus operators in India use this platform. SeatSeller is GDS for bus inventory distribution. Over 10,000 retail agents and 100 plus corporates, including the OTAs use SeatSeller to sell bus tickets to their customers.

Prakash Sangam tells YourStory how they did it.

YS: What literally worked while making redBus’s app popular and drive downloads among smartphone users?

PS: From the beginning redBus kept the ‘Mobile Only’ customer at the centre of its product development process. Instead of trying to bring all our desktop features on the app, we focused on delivering truly mobile experiences that customers would value more. As a result we were the first to the market with mobile features like ‘Bus Tracking’, ‘Virtual Boarding Points’, and ‘Password-less logins’ etc.

These innovations have helped us differentiate our mobile offering in the market and achieve top rating spot in all app stores. In our last TVC we promoted the mobile app exclusively with downloading the app as the primary call to action. As a result we’ve seen our downloads grow exponentially over time.

YS: Which channels did redBus use to drive downloads? We see a lot of e-commerce companies extending rewards on app download. Did redBus do that?

PS: Most of our downloads have either come organically through the app stores or tactically prompting the app to our web customers whenever it has more to offer than the website. For example, we prompt our customers to download the app if they have booked a bus that has live tracking available — a valuable feature that can only be accessed from the app. Our team also works towards ‘App Store Optimization’ (ASO) which has helped us improve our discoverability on the app stores.

Apart from this, we have tried some paid marketing channels and at times rewarded the customers to use the app, but the bulk of our downloads still come from organic sources.

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YS: Could you throw some light on usage pattern of app users? How are they different from desktop users?

PS: App users behave quite differently than our desktop users. Apps witness the most activity on weekends — goes on to show that mobile is preferred over desktop when one is at home. There are more last minute bookings on apps. One interesting trend we’ve seen is that the percentage of single seat bookings have gone up on the app, which makes sense since mobile is a more personal device.

YS: At present 35% of redBus’s overall booking happens via mobile phones. What is the split from mobile and app only driven transactions?

PS: Apps account for more than 70% of all mobile bookings with majority of them coming from the Android  app.



Jai Vardhan

Jai Vardhan

Starting his career as a crime reporter with 'The Indian Express', Jai Vardhan is a storyteller, erstwhile entrepreneur and a habitual prankster. He is inclined towards entrepreneurship, philosophy and startups, not necessarily in that order. He likes connecting the dots, breaking news, nose and beliefs - ‘To wake up in life one must fall asleep’.