Mobile cab booking specialist saves by switching to in-house address-finding system

Mapmechanics helps Minicabster streamline minicab bookings with direct address lookup

MapMechanics helps Anycabs streamline minicab bookings with direct address lookup

Mapmechanics helps Anycabs streamline minicab bookings with direct address lookup

By adopting a package of postcode data products from Mapmechanics, fast-growing online minicab booking service provider Minicabster (formerly Anycabs) has been able to gain significantly better control over the cost and performance of its system.

Minicabster, operating under the URL, is one of Britain’s biggest and most successful minicab aggregators. Having been launched only two years ago, it already has access to more than 10,000 minicabs, and has operations in London, Birmingham and Manchester. Its mobile apps have consistently appeared in the Guardian list of 30 best apps.

Customers log on to the Minicabster web site either on a computer or on an Android or Apple smartphone, and simply type in the postcode of their location and destination, or points of interest such as street names, local landmarks or railway stations.

Details are then sent automatically to subscribing minicab operators, who can see the journey requirements and immediately quote for making the pick-up, allowing users to choose the best offer for their needs.

Originally Minicabster used a web-based third-party service to provide the address lookup capability. The customer’s pickup and destination data were fired out automatically to an external web site, which translated them into meaningful locations so that the Minicabster system could work out the journey requirements.

Irshad Khan, Minicabster’s head of technology, says:

This was not ideal. We had to pay a set fee for every lookup request, so the more enquiries we had, the more it cost us. Another problem was that we were dependent on the internet connection to the address lookup service, so any downtime in that link was outside our control.

The old system also required three clicks in order to activate the address search, “and we wanted the system to be as quick and simple to use as possible.” The company therefore looked for an in-house alternative, and chose Mapmechanics to provide it. Mapmechanics specialises in sourcing, configuring and delivering mapping and related data to customer requirements, and in this case has provided Minicabster with Royal Mail’s full Postcode Address File (PAF) at premise level for the UK, plus the  AMD Unit Postcode Points data set for the UK.

By integrating this data with its existing IT system, Minicabster has been able to bring the address lookup system in-house. This means it can now avoid the incremental cost of every address lookup, and is no longer dependent on the integrity of an internet link to a third-party web site.

The user input fields now integrate automatically with the data supplied by Mapmechanics, initiating the search process with fewer clicks and finding matches intelligently.

Irshad Khan says:

The company considered several data providers before making a choice. Mapmechanics provided the cleanest data and the best terms. They also offered us the chance to trial the system, which was really helpful.

He said that other suppliers who offered trial data tended to limit it to specific subsets. “One supplier offered us postcode data for Brighton, for instance, but we don’t have an operation there yet, so we couldn’t have drawn any conclusions about how well it worked.”

Minicabster has quickly become well established in the capital, and is now actively promoting its service in Birmingham and Manchester, and has plans to expand across other cities in the UK.

One of its key attractions for minicab operators is that although its system is automated, it allows operators to select journeys and make bids for them manually. “If an operator has a minicab near a pickup point, it can reflect that in the price. If a specific type of vehicle is required, it is easier to ensure that the right type is sent to the job.”