A convenient ride

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These days when it comes to pioneering new cashless, smartphone-led business models, China is generally at the vanguard. Yet another instance involves the rollout of in-taxi convenience stores in several major Chinese cities. These serve snacks and beverages and enable passengers to buy from an ‘electronic shelf’ by scanning a code with their smartphones. Hangzhou Taxi Group and Beijing Little Orange Convenience Technology Development, for instance, have just inked a deal to install the stores in its Hangzhou-based fleet. Jin Kai, a spokesperson for the taxi firm, told National Business Daily that drivers’ incomes had fallen as a result of competition from Uberesque ride-sharing firms like Didi Chuxing. The convenience stores offer drivers a chance to supplement their incomes, as they receive 20% of sales – giving them an incentive to talk up their merchandise.

Not everyone is convinced. Sohu reports that some passengers worry that if drivers are preoccupied with plying their food and beverage wares, they may pay less attention to the road.

Service provider Gogo+ claims to have been the first to install a taxi convenience store, having pioneered the model in Shenzhen. Its spokesperson says that it plans to deal with the public’s fears about safety through driver training programmes and assessing the fitness of drivers: “So far, there are no major problems. We have been developing this for two years and sold more than Rmb10 million ($1.56 million) worth of goods, and served nearly a million passengers. And there have been no complaints.”

Aside from Hangzhou and Shenzhen, taxis with convenience stores can now also be ridden in Chengdu and Nanjing. However, many cities do not have regulations covering whether such stores are allowed, reports National Business Daily.

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