For any company, understanding user behavior is key to mastering user retention. But what happens when those behaviors are heavily affected by world events?
Take Postmates. The on-demand service that delivers restaurant-prepared meals and other goods to doorsteps across the country has built custom measures that capture and balance their user data. And lately, they’ve been accounting for real-world events that have thrown that balance off.
“Consider a public health crisis where we are deemed an essential service but we must invent new ways to safely fulfill deliveries without contact,” Enu Herzberg, VP of data and analytics at Postmates, said. “Or national protests around Black inequities, where we are still deemed an essential service but curfews add a new layer of how our couriers can move through cities. Or extreme weather events, like a hurricane, that increases customer demand but decreases fleet supply.
“In each of those cases, we must ingest real-time data, store it, interpret it, visualize it and trend it so we can triage events in real time” Herzberg added.
It’s that type of balancing act that’s helped Postmates keep a close eye on their users’ behaviors. Built In SF spoke with Herzberg about what tools the company uses to leverage and capture data, and their most effective methods to increase user retention.
Postmates makes real-time adjustments in response to their users’ behaviors, and those decisions have a wide-reaching impact. “All at once, we’re delivering incremental revenue to our partners, earning opportunities for our fleet, and moving goods to our customers — which means we must build a three-sided ecosystem in harmony.”
What tools or technologies are you using to capture and analyze user behavior data?
We are one of the largest marketplaces connecting consumers, businesses and couriers in real time. So we have to pay close attention to how behaviors, appetites and thirst change on a dime — all while real-world events such as weather changes or national holidays affect utilization of our app. Put another way, we may be a digital app, but we operate in the very dynamic and evolving analog world. Elastic customer demand, an elastic labor supply to fulfill that demand and on-demand cash transfers means that we have to partner with vendors and third parties that can keep pace with our ever-evolving marketplace.
That’s why we are proud partners of mParticle, Amplitude, Braze and CartoDB, amongst others who recognize that latency, scalability and flexibility matters. The tools we deploy are more than just anonymous vendors or third-party applications — they reflect extraordinary partnerships that are able to address and reconcile multiple permutations of use cases that communicate across systems and users to ensure our services map to the needs of a country.
What specific behaviors are you keeping an eye out for or do you consider to be most important?
Postmates is in the business of adapting our delivery systems to the real-time adjustments of our users. If merchants are keen on selling more on a holiday weekend, we must scale workers to fulfill that demand. If customers are keen on ordering more items ahead of a hurricane weekend, we must ensure we have a sufficient number of sellers online. And if we are to encourage more workers to hop on our platforms during a playoff game day rush, we have to detail appropriate incentives to encourage that work because on-demand workers don’t sign up in shifts. We must always account for how real-world events can throw that balance off.
We have proprietary methods to measure and score our ability to surface what customers want via various conversion stats across platforms and channels. And that’s why we must keep a close eye on our market health via custom supply and demand utilization stats that can scale down to the narrowest geographic levels.
Beyond user behavior analysis, what's the most effective method you've used for improving user retention?
Build it into the product. Today’s consumers prefer the advantages of access over the hassles of ownership or even excessively repeated fees. When we launched Postmates Unlimited in 2016, the delivery industry’s first subscription program, we made a bet that delivery should be part of everyday life for all consumers. We bet that families who relied on Friday night meals may want to do so regularly. We bet that customers who were inclined to order with a consistent clip would opt into our service with a bit more loyalty and regularity. And we made a bet that the revenue netted from sales for Unlimited holders would outpace non-subscription holders.