Freetrailer is a great concept, sharing very similar values with Wiredelta®. These include demonetizing everything through software. For Freetrailer that means moving things around, for free! With more than 200,000 reservations in 2015 throughout Europe, it seems that the concept certainly has merit!
How does Freetrailer work?
Historically, these reservations are serviced in a very manual and non-technical manner. A typical customer renting a Freetrailer would be going through steps that look something like this:
1) You purchased goods at one of Freetrailer’s partner stores, such as IKEA, Silvan, Bilka, Stark or another of Freetrailer’s many partners. You then realize that you have purchased too much to fit in your car, and need a transporter of some kind. As you check out in the store, you see a sign showing trailer rental, for free! Following the sign leads you to a kiosk where you can indeed rent a trailer for 24 hours for free.
2) You book a trailer in the kiosk and get a contract.
3) Upon signing the contract, you get directions to the trailer parking lot and a physical key to unlock the trailer from a box that looks like this:
4) You go to your car, drive over to the parking lot, and find your trailer.
So, what’s to improve in this process? At the last step, when you are about to use the trailer you’ve just rented, three different things can happen:
Something is wrong with the trailer. When you arrive at the parking lot you see the trailer has been left by the previous customer with a flat tire, has been damaged, is dirty, or has some other defect. What do you do? The only thing you can do at this point is to go back to the kiosk and inform a customer service representative about the problem to get a new trailer for your reservation. That means printing another contract, signing it, and going back to the parking lot to retrieve the new trailer.
The trailer is not there. The Freetrailer system is smart enough to prioritize trailers that have been used the least. It also adds a buffer time to accommodate for late returns. Sometimes, however, the system assigns a trailer that is either in use due to a very late delivery or it is not in service. In that case, you have to go back to the kiosk to get another trailer.
Everything goes smoothly. Off you go!
As a company like Freetrailer scales up, it’s important to eradicate situations like the first two. The best way to solve this issue is… yes, you guessed it… to build an app. That’s exactly what Wiredelta was brought in to do: transforming an idea of an app into a rock-solid product.
If you look at steps 2-4, there is really no need for you as a customer to go to a kiosk to make a reservation, sign a contract, and get a key. Not to mention that when there is a problem, you’d have to go all the way back to the kiosk and ask for a new key!
All of that can be conveniently taken care of with your phone. So we at the Wiredelta team worked closely with the Freetrailer team to build native iOS and Android apps that solve four problems:
- Reservation: You can already make a reservation through Freetrailer’s website. All we had to do to make it work on a phone was just tie the app and the website together!
- Activation: When you log in from a phone, we can immediately identify you. Listing upcoming reservations for activation was straightforward, but what if something is wrong with the trailer? Having 200,000+ users activating reservations every year is a massive opportunity to crowdsource feedback on the fleet of trailers. What we did was prompted the user five key questions upon activation about the trailer’s condition before allowing the customer to open the lock. If a customer answers negatively to any question, the app automatically assigns a new trailer, and the Freetrailer customer service can see the report submitted by users on that particular trailer.
- Electronic locks on trailers: This was the tricky part, and the biggest change to implement in Freetrailer’s process. Instead of using manual keys, we exchanged them with electronic Bluetooth locks that could be unlocked with any Android or iPhone. The electronic locks on the trailer look like this:
- Return: When returning the trailer, the customer simply needs to open the app with the reservation and click “Return”. The app will ask the exact same questions about the trailer’s condition as when activating the trailer. In this way, Freetrailer will be able to go back to the reports submitted by users and see where problems started to occur for a particular trailer.
Here you can see what the Android application looks like. The app is currently
available in Danish, English, Swedish, and Norwegian, with more languages coming up!
The process of locking/unlocking the trailers is as simple as pushing a button; all you need is a Bluetooth-enable smartphone.
Freetrailer’s native iOS and Android apps are built in React Native as an underlying framework and PostgreSQL to allow for flexible data storage yet still keeping the database relational.
We are in other words taking humans out of the equation, only stepping in when there are problems the user cannot resolve. In case of problems, we at Wiredelta built a Freetrailer Partner app for the partner company to step in and help if required.
This allows everyone to do what matters in Freetrailer – moving things around for free! IKEA seems to approve this message and is happy about the upgrade:
You can see the full specs on freetrailer.dk/app. So if you come by IKEA at any point, don’t forget to pick up your trailer; you can’t miss the sign!