Uber has announced plans to launch a convenience store home delivery service to be piloted in some areas of Washington DC. The Corner Store feature in the Uber app will allow users to order and pay for products such as nappies, soap, deodorant, condoms, razor blades, batteries, etc., at no additional cost: delivery charges are factored into the price of the goods.
The service aims to capitalize on the idle time of the company’s network of drivers, providing a service that regular taxi drivers do not provide. In effect it turns the Uber app into a service hub: in the same way that you can arrive somewhere and find your driver, pay him or her directly through the app and tip them with a five-star review if you feel like doing so, you can use this app to order and pay for goods to be brought to your home quickly. This added value could prove decisive in giving Uber a strategic lead over competitors.
Meanwhile, in New York, Uber is also working on Uber Rush, a bicycle messaging service costing between $11 and $26 depending on the zone, along with a dollar surcharge that goes toward BMEF, a messengers’ accident compensation fund. The idea seems to be to launch services that convert the app into a logistics hub, whether it is moving people or goods, services characterized by low friction and convenience. Once you have developed a secure and easy way for people to order and pay for things, via their smartphone, then it makes sense to think in terms of expanding its use as widely as possible.
When Uber was launched, a lot of people thought that that its value was justified by disrupting an industry like the taxi sector, which is mainly composed of small companies using self-employed people, better organizing it and providing customers with improved service. But it now begins to seem that this will be just a small part of Uber’s future, and that its plans include providing a potentially wide array of logistics, an activity that could bring a much more sounding justification for the skyrocketing valuation of the company. And the way things are going, those services may well end up being provided not by its team of drivers, but by vehicles that do the job themselves…
(En español, aquí)