Australian startup launches ‘in-car commerce’ to offer snacks to rideshare passengers

By Kristine Sherred contact

- Last updated on GMT

Grabox has worked with companies like Coca-Cola and Mars Wrigley to provide some complimentary snacks. Pic: Grabox
Grabox has worked with companies like Coca-Cola and Mars Wrigley to provide some complimentary snacks. Pic: Grabox

Related tags: Convenience foods, Convenience stores, Snacks, Mars wrigley confectionery, Coca-cola, on-the-go, mobile apps, Australia, Cargo

Grabox – like a similar American company called Cargo – aims to capitalize on the captive audience in rideshare vehicles by selling snacks through a cashless system.

The Australian startup recently introduced a ‘vending machine’ that straps to a car’s center console next to the driver.

To buy a snack, passengers use their phones to scan a QR code on the console, which sends them to an online payment system.

Once processed, the driver receives a notification and unlocks the box for the passenger to retrieve their snack.

Drivers earn $1 per transaction and 20% commission on the cost of all products sold. They do not pay for the snacks or the equipment.

According to co-founder and chief operating officer Dhruv Kohli, the company calls itself an ‘in-car convenience store,’ offering beverages, chewing gum and other snacks.

It has partnered with brands like Coca-Cola and Mars Wrigley to offer free product samples, which account for up to 30% of each Grabox console. Drivers receive commission for complimentary products, too.

Kohli said he conjured the idea for Grabox after noticing Uber drivers giving away mints, lollipops and water. (Cargo provides a similar service and launched in the US in 2017.)

“There must be an opportunity to monetize this service for the benefit of drivers, riders and brands,”​ said Kohli, who has experience in the retail and logistics sectors.

“Becoming a ‘vending machine on the go’ will provide drivers with an additional source of revenue to cover the cost of petrol, insurance and other running expenses.”

Driver and brand benefit

“The rideshare industry has become a mobile retail outlet for major brands wanting to connect with consumers. It’s a win-win for everyone: riders get access to free products and drivers are paid to give out free products,” ​added Kohli.

Grabox estimates that drivers can earn $100 to $200 in additional revenue every month after installing a snack console.

In-car commerce in the US

Cargo, which launched a similar in-car snack service in July 2017, has since expanded its participating fleet ​to nearly 25,000 drivers in 12 cities.

The New York-based company told BakeryandSnacks that approximately 60m passengers will purchase 15m products in 2019 – thanks in large part to a partnership with Uber​.

Cargo said its drivers have earned more than $7m in additional income, or up to $300 per month. It, too, has partnered with leading snack companies, including Kellogg’s, Mars Wrigley Confectionery, Hershey, General Mills and Mondelēz, to stock its snack consoles.

In January 2018, Kellogg’s venture capital fund eighteen94 invested $5.5m​ in Cargo last January as part of a push to explore untapped distribution channels.

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