Roof Space is a peer-to-peer marketplace connecting people needing to send their oversized sporting goods (e.g. surfboards, kayaks, bikes, etc) with people already on the road driving that direction.
The problem first arose out of a personal experience by a client of mine, Jack, who was trying to ship his surfboard from Christchurch to Gisborne. After being quoted $450 (half the cost of his board), he looked for another way and found someone from a community Facebook group willing to do it for $100.
Naturally this sparked some curiosity – surely he’s not the only one who’s come across this before…
After a newly formed Facebook group dedicated to these sorts of transactions and 1000+ active members later, we knew this was a problem worth solving and decided to see about turning it into a platform of its own.
But first, seek to understand
With an active Facebook group & an excited client wanting to take the next steps, this is where I jumped in to offer my expertise and help bring the idea to life.
As with any design project, I always begin with first understanding the context, the problem, and the users’ needs to essentially answer the question, who and what are we designing for?
I helped Jack formulate interview questions for his user research efforts to better understand first-hand the problem people were looking to solve by using the Facebook group, why it was a problem, and the pros/cons of doing it through Facebook.
Here’s what we learned after interviewing ~10 people:
Key problems the Facebook group was addressing
Using traditional freight to send oversized equipment is expensive.
Freight handlers are notoriously “heavy-handed” with their shipments, often resulting in damage to the customers’ goods.
The timeframe to ship from A to B is often much longer than it needs to be because shipping single-item oversized goods is not as common or easy as shipping small, everyday items. Simply put, it’s a PITA for freight companies unless you’re set up for it (most of which aren’t).
Pros of the Facebook group
It consisted of like-minded people that already knew how to transport and care for different types of equipment.
The ability to connect with people on the road you wouldn’t otherwise be able to connect with.
The ease of arranging pick up/drop off times via chat once 2 parties connected with one another.
Cons of the Facebook group
The Facebook group lacked an element of trust. How does one member know another member isn’t going to steal their stuff? Or that the Driver is actually going to get paid? Facebook was a great place to start as a proof of concept, but it lacked the extra trust & security that a dedicated platform could offer.
Finding driving gigs was difficult & cumbersome within the group as that’s not what a Facebook group is meant for. Essentially, discoverability was completely missing.
Inspiration & Ideation
With a better understanding of who and what we were solving for, it was time to start looking at potential solutions.
Given this was such a young and risky project, we wanted to avoid re-creating the wheel as best we could by looking at what already exists to find inspiration and then cherry-picking what works, repurposing what we could, & filling in the gaps as needed.
So where could we draw inspiration from? Do we go with the classic Uber or AirBnb comparison?
While there’s a lot of similarities of these two, the comparisons broke down fairly quickly. Instead, we realised this was most similar to your typical job board.
People wanting to send their gear were like employers listing a job and people willing to drive their gear were like contractors looking for work.
Identifying this helped give us a solid foundation to start from so we could focus on what really mattered.
Putting together the pieces
Using the job board as inspo, I was able to map out some user flows of how Drivers & Senders would interact.
In addition to the core functionality of connecting Drivers & Senders, the two main things we focused on based from our interviews with FB group members were:
- Building safety & security into the platform to create trust.
- Making it quick and easy to find driving gigs
To create trust within the platform, we decided to include these 3 things:
- Driver verification
- User profiles
Sign up, onboarding, & Driver verification
As part of the sign up process, Users were given the chance to sign up to either send equipment only or drive & send equipment. Anyone was able to sign up and send equipment, but if you wanted to drive equipment & earn money, you had to go through a Driver verification process by uploading a Photo ID & their date of birth.
Given this was an MVP with a limited budget, we were trying to focus on the core functionality of the app first and foremost & so initially left out user profiles.
As things progressed though, it became apparent that user profiles were actually part of the core value that we were trying to offer: trust. And so we decided to include them after all. It also tied in nicely with the Reviews giving them a place to live within the greater context of a user.
Reviews were always part of the plan as that’s an easy and common way to build trust between users. The question wasn’t whether or not to include it, but how do we incorporate it into the flow of an interaction between users?
This is what our initial flow looked like. After an item was delivered and confirmed by both Sender & Driver, we were going to trigger an email similar to how AirBnb does after your stay.
What we decided to do instead though, was quickly capture this review at the same time users were confirming the item was delivered. If they’re already on the platform, why not use that as an opportunity to capture a review?
So the revised review flow actually looked more like this:
Finding driving gigs
In addition to building trust, the next main bit of value our users wanted from us was making it quick & easy to find driving gigs. We did this through a combination of filters & search functionality.
Let’s talk about impact
Although the goal was a prototype, we managed to quickly progress it to a functioning MVP using Bubble.io based on these learnings, initial wireframes, & user flows.
Some key results:
- 1800+ people have joined the FB community
- 440+ users signed up to the app
- 52 successful transactions have taken place with earnings of ~$1350
What lessons did we learn so far?
The biggest obstacle we were facing and continue to face is getting people to make the jump from Facebook to a new platform. Although lots of users expressed concerns about trust with the group, it’s still a challenge for some of them to actually make the leap.
The other biggest obstacle we face are hesitations around submitting a photo ID for Driver verification. Again, although users expressed concerns about trust with other members, the new concern is now around submitting a photo ID on a new platform they’re not yet familiar with.
Obviously there’s still more learning to be done :).
🚗 On a roadtrip? Be sure to hop on Roof Space & check out the listings before you go! Who knows, you might be able to have your entire petrol costs covered & meet some cool people along the way.
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- Roof Space went from identifying a personal pain point to building a Facebook community of 1800+ people looking for a similar solution (how to send oversized sporting goods).
- After interviewing ~10 people, we identified 3 key things that made this such a pain point: expensive to ship, poor handling of equipment, and slow delivery times.
- Additionally, we discovered that the Facebook group lacked an element of trust and had poor discoverability when looking for listings. Members did, however, knew their gear wouldn’t be mishandled by others in the sporting community.
- We designed and built a platform to address these issues by connecting verified drivers with people looking for ways to ship their gear creating a win-win for everyone involved.
- 1800+ people have joined the FB community
- 440+ users signed up to the app post-launch
- 52 successful transactions have taken place post-launch with earnings of ~$1350
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