How Grab’s Indoor Maps serve as a powerful last-mile enabler in Southeast Asia

As Southeast Asia’s mall culture continues to thrive, malls are becoming more complex, creating potential last-mile obstacles for Grab delivery partners. Finding merchants indoors can be tricky, and delivery partners may spend a lot of time tracking down a merchant’s indoor location, increasing delivery time. This can be incredibly challenging for new or less tech-savvy delivery partners.

To help address this challenge, Grab has developed Indoor Maps. This feature offers users easy access to directions inside large malls or retail complexes, providing delivery partners with a cost-efficient solution for finding their way indoors and reaching their allocated merchant quickly.

Helping delivery partners find their way quickly

We want to boost the overall efficiency of delivery partners while providing them with a better experience that will enable them to complete more jobs and potentially increase their take-home pay.

Without reliable indoor navigation, delivery partners typically head to the merchant’s level and go through nearby stores one by one until they locate the right one, or they look for someone who can provide directions, such as security or mall personnel. This process can be time-consuming and frustrating for delivery partners.

Our indoor map experience enables delivery partners to cut short their walking time and avoid getting lost, reducing stress and frustration. We’ve built a feature that helps users navigate different building levels, changing the app’s view to show where they need to go next after stepping off an elevator or escalator. While indoor mapping solutions by third-party providers can also display multiple mall levels, they typically do not offer a cohesive and dynamic route for users.

The cross-level feature of Grab Indoor Maps is particularly helpful for delivery partners on wheelchairs or carrying multiple food bags. It also helps them find the nearest bathroom or the fastest way back to the parking area.

Guiding delivery partners turn by turn

Indoor Maps provides directions in three ways. First, delivery partners who want to navigate on their own can look at the different levels of the building’s indoor map to figure out which direction or escalator/elevator to take.

Next, quick-walking delivery partners who want to immediately see the best path can input where they are. Indoor Maps will then create a route by identifying all the turns they need to make. Road maps typically instruct drivers and riders to turn at a certain distance (e.g., “turn right at 75 metres”), but navigating indoors requires more context. Indoor Maps tells the driver to turn at a specific store (e.g., “turn left at McDonald’s”). Embedding many merchants in our indoor mapping makes the experience easier and more localised for delivery partners.

Lastly, delivery partners can get turn-by-turn navigation, seeing only the details on-screen that help them get from their starting position all the way to the merchant. We see high usage of this function among Grab delivery partners who are new or not so well-versed in technological devices and want to rid themselves of any confusion. It allows them to swipe the indoor map left or right, so they see only the stores and signs they need to be catching every step of the way.

Keeping the mapping data relevant

Stores inside malls and complexes constantly change, so an indoor map needs ongoing data collection to stay relevant. This requires a continuous investment that malls or third-party map-makers may not be willing to make.

It’s common for malls to create their own indoor map by hiring a third-party map maker. But maintaining these maps can consume a large chunk of their marketing budget. Hence in-house indoor maps can become outdated, creating a fragmented user experience.

But Grab has skin in the game and can collect data regularly. We developed a reporting function where delivery partners can provide feedback on store closures, issues in the proposed route, and more. The current version of the function now also allows delivery partners to write reports in their own words.

What’s next for Indoor Maps?

While many third-party map makers are focused on the Western markets, Grab has started early to provide a last-mile solution in Southeast Asia. Our indoor mapping solutions are already live in all Southeast Asian countries, with a focus on Singapore, where the percentage of food merchants located in malls is highest. But we are slowly expanding the coverage to multiple merchants across different cities.

Beyond delivery partners, Indoor Maps could offer benefits to merchants, such as increased visibility to customers in terms of locating different stores inside the same building. Follow us for updates on Indoor Maps.

Komsan Chiyadis

GrabFood delivery-partner, Thailand

Komsan Chiyadis

GrabFood delivery-partner, Thailand

COVID-19 has dealt an unprecedented blow to the tourism industry, affecting the livelihoods of millions of workers. One of them was Komsan, an assistant chef in a luxury hotel based in the Srinakarin area.

As the number of tourists at the hotel plunged, he decided to sign up as a GrabFood delivery-partner to earn an alternative income. Soon after, the hotel ceased operations.

Komsan has viewed this change through an optimistic lens, calling it the perfect opportunity for him to embark on a fresh journey after his previous job. Aside from GrabFood deliveries, he now also picks up GrabExpress jobs. It can get tiring, having to shuttle between different locations, but Komsan finds it exciting. And mostly, he’s glad to get his income back on track.