Speed, plus security: Rappi boosts rapid growth and customer trust using Twilio

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cities served in Latin America

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The omnipresence of delivery apps predates the pandemic, but when stay-at-home orders hit, they became a staple in many of our daily, couch-ridden lives. Now, even as much of the world has begun the return to routine activity, app-based ordering still plays a significant part in how we spend our time.

The team behind Rappi wants their users to spend more time doing what they love, and less time running errands. And with the help of Rappi couriers, called Rappitenderos (rapid shopkeepers), consumers can save time on virtually anything—from ordering everyday things like food, groceries, and cash, to more personal services, like dog walking or shopping for clothing.

“We are in the business of saving people time and making their lives easier,” said Juan Pablo Ortega, co-founder of Bogota-based delivery company Rappi. “We’re giving them back their time to do whatever sounds good for them, while we do the busywork.”

Rappitenderos essentially serve as on-call personal assistants, necessitating a convenient yet secure means of communicating with end users. This prompted Rappi’s adoption of Twilio—and a wide array of channels including email, SMS, and Whatsapp to facilitate secure, fast, and scalable communications, including order confirmations, marketing re-engagement campaigns, customer service, and of course, in-app exchanges between users and Rappitenderos.

Rappi recognizes the availability of Rappitenderos as key to the customer experience, and uses Twilio Programmable Messaging and SendGrid to encourage users to place orders when more Rappitenderos are nearby. Users also receive text and email nudges to re-enter the app if they’ve been inactive for a certain amount of time, recommending favorite products or services they may want to re-order.

Rappi delivery driver
Rappi delivery driver

Protecting user privacy with Proxy and Verify

In the early days of Rappi, the team set out to create a seamless customer experience that allowed for end users to easily contact their Rappitenderos and vice versa. Being able to directly communicate with Rappitenderos to modify an order, ask for extra napkins, or request additional items was a novel and well-liked feature—however, it came at the expense of exposing personal phone numbers, which made both consumers and couriers vulnerable to harassment.

Rappi needed a way to enable businesses, Rappitenderos, customer service agents, and end users to easily exchange messages without revealing a customer or courier’s personal information.

That’s when Rappi decided to use Twilio Proxy and, in combination with Programmable Voice, to build a proxy service that masks calls within the app.

“When you create a new order, we create a proxy, like a session in one of the numbers we have with Twilio, and if either one of them needs to communicate with each other, they initiate the call and the proxy calls the other party,” explained Ricardo Blanch, a product manager at Rappi. “They can then talk through voice like they would in a regular call.”

Seamless communication with customers also gives Rappitenderos the ability to quickly troubleshoot issues with orders before they are escalated to customer support agents. With millions of orders placed daily, mistakes are bound to happen occasionally. “But if not for that communication piece, a lot more of those orders could go wrong,” Blanch said, and adding a customer service touch point “at the appropriate time” goes a long way toward making customers feel happy and cared for.

Rappi built another security measure into its app using Twilio Verify—when new customers create a Rappi account, they receive a code via SMS, which they then type into the app to prove their identity. The authentication process helps protect the user’s personal information and enables the Rappi team to crack down on fake accounts.

Rappi's delivery people working
Rappi's delivery people working

Infusing speed into the development lifecycle

One of Rappi’s differentiators is speed: products and services are delivered in a matter of hours, if not minutes. The company believes in agile development, too—since its inception in 2015, Rappi has become a multi-vertical super app, offering its wide range of products and services in nine countries and more than 200 cities across Latin America.

Twilio helped to accelerate that pace by equipping Rappi with self-service APIs that made it easier for developers to conceptualize, build, and test new features quickly. And in the highly competitive landscape of on-demand delivery, time to market matters.

“Many of our use cases came into fruition because I was just playing around with the Twilio dashboard,” said Ortega. Using Twilio Studio, a visual editor for building, editing, and managing communication workflows, he created quick feature prototypes, which gave developers a starting point from which to build and refine. “That changes the perspective, because you open up [ideas for] the developers to do cool things that maybe we didn’t think were possible.”

Now, for every new use case that surfaces, Rappi turns to Twilio for communications functionality. From a product manager’s perspective, Blanch said the tried-and-true quality of Twilio’s partnership is especially valuable.

“We don’t worry too much now about the communication needs, because that’s one thing that’s taken care of,” he said. “We know that it’s going to work, and if it’s not working, we have support. We have ways of troubleshooting things.”

Rappi SMS notification
Rappi SMS notification

Transforming financial services in Latin America

With communication flowing freely and securely on Twilio, Rappi is focused on innovating for the future. Through analyzing user behavior, the team identified financial services as an area of opportunity to improve service for Rappi customers.

“We saw financial services were at the heart of people’s transactions and people’s lives,” said Ortega. “In Latin America, we’re lacking a good customer experience in financial services. And also, a huge part of the population—almost 70 percent—are unbanked or under-banked. So even though there are banks, a big part of the population does not have a bank account… And if they do, they don’t feel that their financial services providers offer something for them.”

Rappi is tackling this problem head-on, offering a complete financial services solution in partnership with local banks across Latin America. Rappi Bank is a 100-percent digital bank that meets users where they already are: on the Rappi app.

“So if you want to apply for a credit card, it’s easier than ordering a hamburger,” Ortega said. “In less than 30 minutes, a courier is at your house with a physical card that you can activate right away.”

Fraud is another challenge in financial services in the region. How will Rappi grow Rappi Bank without increasing too much exposure to fraud? Rappi can use the Verify API service – like they have for acquiring new users – to validate phone numbers and authenticate their customers. Their Twilio account is ready to help them build, test and scale.

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