Quick… it's Raining, Double the Price

Not to attach myself to the British stereotype but it's fair to say I'm a bit obsessed with the weather. So much so that a few years back I wrote a script that checks the weather every morning and sends me a push notification if I need my umbrella. Recently, I have been thinking about how weather affects the way we use all apps from games to eCommerce and everything in between.

For example, there are many reports detailing how weather has affected retail store sales:

These articles are focusing on how retailers can use long-term forecasting to adjust stock levels. Undoubtedly, this data is useful for these large companies allowing them to be more efficient and manage surplus stock better. However, there is also a new type of weather forecasting available. This forecasting is hyperlocal, real time and is known as Nowcasting.

Nowcasting

The forecasting of the weather within the next six hours is often referred to as nowcasting.

One of the pioneering apps in the Nowcasting space is Dark Sky, an app that lets you know within the hour whether it is going to rain (or snow). Even more interesting is that the data that powers the app is available to developers via the forecast.io API. It's incredibly cheap as the first thousand API calls you make every day are free and every API call after that costs just $0.0001 per request.

With this data built into your app we can start to understand how the weather affects engagement and retention. Here is a list of some of the hypotheses we can test with this data:

  • What type of weather is the app used in the most?
  • Do in-app incentives increase engagement during poor weather conditions?
  • Do push notifications have better success during certain weather conditions?
  • Can you drive user actions based on weather conditions?
  • Should UI change based on the weather? What effect does this have?
  • Should the prices or offers shown change due to weather conditions?

One company that charges more due to weather conditions is Uber.

Uber

It is well known that it is difficult to get a taxi in the rain. Uber knows this and as demand increases so does the price. Not to everyone's liking:

For a better user experience, what if the Uber app let you know it was going to rain within the hour? It could send a nice friendly push notification, based on your past usage stats:

Uber: Hey Stephen, It’s about to start raining, quick grab an Uber ☔️

Knowing Uber was on your side would increase customer loyalty and ultimately repeat sales.

Conclusion

How can your app benefit from knowing the weather conditions of your users? I'm going to try and answer this question with that app I'm building. I would love to hear if anyone has collected any data on this in the comments below.

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