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Uber's delivery service rebrands as uberESSENTIALS

Originally launched as Corner Store in August, Uber expands it with more products

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
December 1, 2014 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3ab9

Uber has always had an interest in the delivery space. What started as on-offs, like when it delivered kittens for National Cat Day, and then Christmas trees for the holidays in 2013, more recently has become a more serious experiement in the company using its fleet of drivers to move around goods instead of people.

In August it released two pilot programs, one for food delivery called uberFRESH, and the other called Uber Corner Store in Washington DC, as a way for users to get over 100 items, such as allergy medicine, diapers and toothpaste, delivered right to their door.

Apparently Corner Store was a success, because Uber revealed on Monday that it is not only expanding the service, but it is rebranding it as well.

Now called uberESSENTIALS, the company, which says it can deliver items "in 10 minutes or less," has expanded its list of products to include "holiday essentials" such as batteries, Hanukkah candles, scotch tape, wrapping paper and celebration mini lights, along with year round items that include drinks, snacks, cold and flu remedies, tissues, razors, pain relievers and condoms.

Here's how uberESSENTIALS works: all the user has to do is set their delivery location throughout DC and confirm their address, go to Essentials and start adding products, place the order and then meet the driver on the street to get them. Items are charged to the person's Uber account. 

Uber users can access the service from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and until midnight on Saturday and Sunday. 

While the service got more products, it is not expanding geographically just yet; is still only available in Washington D.C. and is still being called "a limited-time-only experiment," this seems to be indication that Uber sees a future in this space.

"We're always experimenting and finding new, creative ways to leverage the Uber app to provide even greater value to our riders and driver partners," an Uber spokesperson told VatorNews. "From fresh lunches to flu prevention to your everyday items, we routinely hear from users excited about the latest offering on the Uber platform, and we look forward to continuing to innovate and meet that growing demand."

The same-day delivery space

In the past couple of years, same-day delivery has become a hot commodity for large Internet companies.

Google's same-day delivery service, which was unveiled in March of 2013, allows allow shoppers to purchase items online from local retailers and get their items during a time window of their choosing. The company recently expanded it to more cities, with more partnerships, and with a subscription service.

By paying either $95 a year, or $10 per month, shoppers will get free same-day or overnight delivery on eligible orders over $15, as well as first dibs on delivery windows. They can also share membership with other members of their household. If they don't want to pay for a membership, users still have the ability to pay $4.99 per eligible order.

The other big name in this space is Amazon, with Prime. The company charges $8.99 per shipment, and an additional 99 cents per item, for local same day delivery. Or users can sign up for Amazon Prime for $99 a year and pay only $5.99 per shipment.

Interestingly, Amazon recently entered into a partnership with Flywheel that would put in direct competition with Uber.  The two companies have partnered up in San Francisco and Los Angeles, in a deal that allows Amazon to summon cabs that use the software to its mini-distribution centers. The cabs are then loaded with up to 10 packages, which are all going to the same ZIP Code.

There was one other big player in the same-day delivery space: eBay, whose eBay Now, announced in October of 2012, offers the rate of $5 on orders of at least $25. That experiment seems to be over now, though, as the standalone eBay Now app was recently pulled from the App Store. 

Credit to TheNextWeb for spotting this.

(Image source: blog.uber.com)


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