Freed from the responsibility of driving, ride-sharing passengers have a lot of time on their hands. A new startup hopes to capitalize on that. Cargo wants to put mini-vending machines capable of dispensing everything from snacks to Advil in ride-sharing cars. The company has received $1.75 million in seed funding and is already operating in three U.S. cities, according to TechCrunch.
Drivers sign up for free, and receive a display case from Cargo that sits on their cars' center consoles. Each display case has a URL and an identification number unique to each car. The actual transaction is done online by punching in the URL and ID, and using a credit card or digital wallet like Apple Pay. Once the transaction is complete, the driver gets a notification on his or her phone, and hands the customer the items.
Cargo tracks sales and automatically sends more inventory when supplies run low. Drivers get paid $0.50 for each item they sell. Cargo claims the majority of its drivers currently make at least $100 a month on average from the system. The company pays per item rather than a percentage of sales, because some items are distributed to customers free of charge. Some companies distributing their products through Cargo feel the publicity is worth enough.
In addition to giving companies a way to reach a captive audience of ride-share users, Cargo can also provide them with valuable marketing data. It tracks information like the date and location of each transaction, which can be passed on to marketers. As with so many other digital services, consumers have to sacrifice a level of privacy for convenience.
Cargo is currently operating in New York City, Boston, and Chicago, but claims to have received requests from drivers in 49 states.